War flick, Taiwan yokel film lead Golden Horse pack

Thu Dec 4, 2008 4:18am EST
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By Doug Young

TAIPEI (Reuters Life!) - A Hong Kong star-studded historical drama and a Taiwanese comedy pocked with a colorful local cast are vying for center stage at this year's Golden Horse awards, widely regarded as the "Oscars" of Chinese-language film.

Hong Kong film "The Warlords," with martial arts star Jet Li, leads this year's nominations at the awards that will be given out on Saturday at a glitzy ceremony in the city of Taichung.

The Golden Horses are considered the "Academy Awards" of Chinese-language film, although they have no affiliation with the Hollywood honors.

Close on its heels is "Cape No. 7," a low-key Taiwan film that has taken the local market by storm, garnering 10 nominations including best film and best director for Wei Te-Sheng.

"Warlords," with 12 nominations for best film, best director for Peter Chan and best leading actor for Li, tells the story of a 19th century general set to become governor during the turbulent years of the waning Qing dynasty.

"(The film is) about human nature and the plot brings out certain gray areas, about how every person has two faces and weaknesses," said Hong Kong film critic Law Kar. "The screenplay is rare among Chinese historical movies in having a certain subtle ambiguity, so that you can see both sides of things."

"Cape No. 7" is much less serious or subtle, centered on a motley cast of small town folk in southern Taiwan who form a rock band that opens for a Japanese superstar.

"Cape No. 7 is the big story this year," said David Frazier, a Taiwan-based arts and film writer. "It condensed a lot of local identity issues into a very audience-friendly film."   Continued...