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  Beijing Scene


Beijing Scene, Volume 5, Issue 26, September 17 - 23

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon
Lusciously lihai (formidable) femme fatale meets dapper cantokiller in a new kung-fu fantasy flick by Taiwan auteur Ang Lee filmed on location in Beijing, Xinjiang and the misty mountains of Anhui.

After dabbling in Civil War drama (Riding With the Devil) and probing the psyche of small-town America (Ice Storm), Lee brings his lens to bear on a Qing dynasty punch-up which stars Bond girl Michelle Yeoh and Hong Kong heartthrob Chow Yun-fat.

Currently shooting behind a phalanx of tight security at the Beijing Film Studio, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is Lee's first Mandarin film since the 1994 art house hit Eat, Drink, Man, Woman and features Yeoh as a ruthless bounty hunter tasked with tracking down China's leading liumang (fugitive). Martial arts magic will be provided by Hong Kong fistmaster Yuen Wo Ping, who schooled Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne in the slick moves that spelled success for Hollywood timebender The Matrix.

Peking Prophets
Leading underground label Badhead Music will commemorate a half-century of class struggle in October with a triple-barreled sonic salute from the mainland most promising audio anarchists.

The alternative arm of hugely successful Modern Sky Records will soon out a long-awaited second album from noise kings NO, as well as debut efforts from mandogoths Mu Ma and edgy experimentalists She Tou.

Industry insiders say the label is also eyeing Nanjing punk prophets PK14 as well as tapping other waidi (provincial) bands to push China's garage rock horizons beyond Beijing's borders.

But Badhead's alternative steamroller may be frozen in its tracks after an expected year-end album release by overdrive surffuzz wizards Cold Blooded Animal, whose ultraintense live shows have jaws dropping among capital sound cynics.

Fashion Assassins
Rag traders from Peking to Canton are turning their backs on monochrome copy with a revolutionary series of mass-market magazines targeting the country's growing ranks of cash-flush nouveau-cool. Capitalizing on surging interest in non-official culture, the radical chic reads promise an injection of enlightened ideas for an industry dominated by foreign fashion fetish and mindless Mandomush.

Forging the way is Nanjing literary lout Wang Gan and New Culture Monthly which deals up a heavy dose of post-modern punk in columns such as "Fashion Assassin and workshop: Mianmian.

Guangzhou-based art critic Chen Tong will join in the New China paper chase with Vision 21, a funky, revved-up read which will highlight the works of 20-somethings as they take pop potshots.

Sexy Shanghai scribe Zhao Bo will lend support by giving the high-culture Writers and Artists a stylist spin by canning interviews in favor of open-ended 'dialogues' between well-known cultural pioneers and not-so-famous wannabes

Silent Scream
Beijing punks are mourning the loss of their leading breeding ground following closure of the gritty westside Scream club in early September. The seminal Haidian university district venue gave birth to a new generation of Chinese hardcore and nurtured infant bands such as Brain Failure and Anarchy Jerks to spiritual maturity. But crass culture does not money make and the doors were shut after posing took precedence over profit. Closure came just weeks before release of the mainland's first-ever punk compilation-a two-tape, 40-song magnum opus which sold a stunning 20,000 units in its first three days on the market. Oi!

And finally, Hong Kong's tourist authorities have tipped their hat to screen siren Shu Qi for boosting the former colony's flagging tourist tally. Droves of domestic day trippers have descended on the outdoor set for I Love 007-a made-in-Hong Kong action flick which stars the sultry former sex queen as a leather-clad, spike-heeled spook.

The frenzy fueled a boom in overseas arrivals as shrewd Japanese profiteers flogged weekend Shu Qi scoping trips for the true believers. But the tide will quickly ebb as Shu is set to spend the next few months in Japan shooting a series of Wulong tea commercials, a prize project which forced her to turn down a leading role in Ang Lee's chopsocky star fest.


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