Hong Kong-born actor Donnie Yen is set to reach new heights, starring in prominent roles in two Hollywood blockbusters – Star Wars’ Rogue One (2016) and xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (2017).
The Ip Man-famed action star plays Chirrut Îmwe in the Lucasfilm production. Here is the official description of his character:
“Deeply spiritual, Chirrut Îmwe believes all living things are connected through the Force. His sightless eyes do not prevent him from being a highly skilled warrior.
“Though he lacks Force abilities, this warrior monk has rigorously honed his body through intense physical and mental discipline.”
The first full trailer, since releasing on YouTube on August 11, 2016, has effortlessly clocked over 13 million views. Check it out!
Along with renowned actor Jiang Wen (Baze Malbus), they are believed to be the first Chinese characters to appear in a film franchise that has been the target of discussions of diversity and representation.
His next project in Hollywood, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, would seem to break some new grounds as well.
The 53-year-old star plays a warrior Xiang, and from the looks of the adrenaline-fused trailer, he’s certainly someone you don’t want to mess with!
Describing Xiang, Donnie says:
“It’s a positive role, I am the new xXx agent who will team up with Vin [Diesel] to take down all bad guys!”
What a breath of fresh air to see an Asian actor cast in an empowering role in a mainstream movie!
Not that Rick Yune (Die Another Day), Ng Chin Han (The Dark Knight) or Jet Li (The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor) haven’t done a superb job nailing it as the captivating villains, but Donnie fighting alongside Vin will be a welcome change.
Besides, as a fellow Hongkonger, I could not be more proud to see him do his thing in a film that is bound to make all the right noises at the international box office.
Take a look at the stunning trailer:
Star Wars Rogue One will release on December 16, 2016, while Xander Cage will come out on January 20, 2017.
It is going to be a good year for Donnie Yen, who will undoubtedly open the doors for more amazing opportunities for Chinese and Asian actors everywhere!
On June 23rd, 2016, I went to the voting booth before work and put my two cents in the EU referendum debate, which had been dominating headlines for weeks and months.
That evening, I watched as voting closed and volunteers across the country worked tirelessly to make sure everyone’s vote was accounted for.
By the time I went to bed, the first counting result was yet to be announced. But there was an oddly justified sense of confidence that I would wake up to the same Britain.
On June 24th, 2016, I woke up to a worryingly divided nation instead, that was further handicapped by a lack of strong leadership.
As an immigrant living in the UK, a Vote to Leave is highly unsettling. How will this affect the economy and employment prospect? Is UK truly multicultural or am I not welcomed here?
A few hours later, I was on the phone with my parents.
“Maybe you shouldn’t renew your Hong Kong SAR passport,” they advised.
“Why?” I asked.
“You know, because of the missing booksellers,” they replied in a sombre tone.
Five members of staff of Causeway Bay Books had been ‘missing’ from Hong Kong since late 2015.
Though most of them have now returned safely, one remains in custody of Mainland Chinese authorities.
Lam Wing-kee is so far the only one who has spoken out, confirming what many of us fear and believe: they were kidnapped and illegally detained by Mainland China. Thus, sparking more protests and calls for independence.
Two of these men hold dual nationalities – one British and the other Swedish. Yet, the respective consulates are almost powerless in reaching out to the Chinese authorities.
According to Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, ‘any Hong Kong resident who is of Chinese descent and … born in the Chinese territories’ are citizens of China.
The implication here is that the incident is ‘purely China’s internal affairs [in which] any foreign country has no right to interfere’.
In other words, holding my hometown passport nowadays could make me more vulnerable to China’s twisted legal system. It has come to a point now where having none is better than having one.
But with Brexit upon us, what will it mean to be a British passport holder?
The next day, I watched Independence Day: Resurgence in the cinema.
The main battle is obviously between the human race and the aliens. But it essentially represents a joint effort between the military, scientists and a friendly space bot taking on the hostile alien led by their queen.
The word ‘independence’ has been ringing in my head for the past few days. What does it mean? What do we want independence from, and how do we achieve that? What do we gain and lose in the process?
Doing something bold on your own could be scary. Doing it with the right people and with an effective leader – we can embrace and support one another on this bumpy ride.
For as long as I can remember, pre-wedding photo session is a crucial ritual of Hong Kong weddings.
This cultural phenomenon of taking advertisement-like snaps has now spread around the world. Happy couples posing in their wedding attire are frequently spotted at famous tourist sights in major cities.
Some of their favourite locations – or the most popular options offered by wedding photographers in their standard packages – include Paris, London, Santorini, Tokyo and Seoul.
Costing anywhere in the region of HKD$4,000 to $25,000, it is no wonder some local photographers in these cities have started targeting Chinese couples and expanding their services for local people to maximise businesses.
What are pre-wedding photos?
As the name suggests, these are taken before the wedding ceremony (usually weeks in advance), but they should not be confused with engagement photos for which the couple are often casually dressed.
The dress code for pre-wedding photos is the actual wedding attire itself – a concept that many foreigners find bemusing. Why would you want to put on a delicate gown with a three-metre train and parade through the city in various epic poses?
Because for many Hong Kongers, it is important to remember the most special day of their lives through cinematic photographs, to enjoy luxury that they will probably never experience again, and to showcase on Facebook among other showcasing purposes.
Really, it is a win-win situation. Wedding companies make a bucket full of money by offering similar packages every season, and most importantly, this is guaranteed business as pre-wedding photos have become almost as essential as the ceremony itself.
The couples get to doll up to the brim and play dress-up in exotic locations. And by dress-up, I mean dress-up!
It is not uncommon at all to have 3-7 gowns and suits to change into for different places and time of day. These garments, of course, come with the packages offered by various companies.
The local economy also benefits from the money splashed on the entire session, from accommodation and food and drinks, to shopping and sight seeing.
Pre-wedding photos in Hong Kong
Organising the shoot abroad is appealing to many Hong Kong couples because of the prospect of travelling, although for some, this is also a great way of flaunting their wealth.
Admittedly, it was very attractive to us as well while planning our wedding. What better than travelling and looking drop dead gorgeous in the process? However, due to the limited time that we had, logistics and other reasons, we decided to do this in Hong Kong instead.
After my first round of research, I realise that a number of spots are very popular with local photographers and there are hardly any unique touches or perspectives to these photos.
So I dug deeper, and I found a long list of recommended spots in the city and outskirt areas. And I was glad there were some nice surprises.
Here are some interesting ones for future couples to explore:
中環 Central – 石板街 Pottinger Street, 都爹利街 Duddell Street, 碼頭 Pier, IFC 四樓平台 4/F Podium, 蘭桂坊 Lan Kwai Fong
Our Final Choice
For us, exquisite locations are nice to have, but they should also mean something special.
So our final itinerary include my secondary school, Shek O (in line with the theme of our wedding venue decoration) and a very unusual and sweet spot (what we both love about Hong Kong) – IFC 4/F Podium.
Our choice of outfit was simple. No wedding attire or elaborate evening gowns. Just a couple of dresses from ASOS for me, and a tailored shirt and jeans for my man.
We also opted for a freelance photographer (also a family friend), rather than packages from the shops, for an extra personal touch and a more affordable cost.
Weddings in Hong Kong have always been about extravagance, glamour, and the more of everything the better.
We took the ‘budget and beautiful’ route and I guess you can say they look like engagement photos instead, but we still cherish every moment of that sunny day in 2014.