It was 11 years in the making.
New York University-educated Korean director Sngmoo Lee first penned the script a decade ago, a story about tragic love in the midst of extreme violence. Initially, that love was written as one rather unconventional for its time – male-male love. This was before Brokeback Mountain, after all.
Fast forward to today and the love story first imagined by Lee is still considered unconventional, albeit now altered to one of Asian male-Caucasian female. Odd that after a decade, homosexual relationships on the screen have garnered more mainstream acceptance than that shown in Lee’s debut American feature, The Warrior’s Way, releasing in the U.S. this Friday, December 3.
For a film that some thought would never get made (even Lee originally envisioned a low-budget El Mariachi-like indie), The Warrior’s Way has the star power and backing of some of the biggest names in entertainment around the world. The film is Korean superstar Jang Dong Gun’s American film debut, and also stars Academy Award winner Geoffrey Rush, Kate Bosworth and Danny Huston. Backed by Barrie M. Osbourne, who produced the incredibly successful The Lord of the Rings franchise, and Korean mega-producer Jooick Lee, and featuring the talents of three-time Academy Award winning costume designer James Acheson (The Last Emperor, Dangerous Liaisons), and original music by Javier Navarrete of Pan’s Labyrinth, The Warrior’s Way truly is an international collaboration. (The film itself was shot in New Zealand, almost entirely against green screen.)
Jang stars as Yang, introduced as “the greatest swordsman in history … ever.” Since birth, he has been trained to kill every last member of the enemy clan. But when he confronts the last remaining member – a wide-eyed, gurgling baby girl (played by an Asian New Zealander) – he can’t do it. Instead, he takes the baby and flees to America.
There, in the American Badlands, Yang creates a life among a hodgepodge, Fellini-esque cast of circus performers. He takes over the laundry business of a long-lost, now-deceased friend. He grows a garden and for the first time in his life, experiences the joy of creating rather than destroying. And as reluctant as he is, he is drawn into training the revenge-seeking Lynne (Kate Bosworth) in the art of sword fighting.
And therein lies the love story. It’s a romance set up less with word than with sword, says Lee. A hero who wants to stop killing versus a heroine who wants to kill. It’s a formula for sexual tension and tragedy if ever there was one.
Since this is Jang’s first English speaking role (his accent is reminiscent of Ken Watanabe’s in The Last Samurai), the unspoken chemistry between the actors was vital. But this was not Jang’s first time on a foreign set. In 2005, he starred in Chen Kaige’s Golden Globe-nominated Chinese film The Promise with Cecilia Cheung. It’s not as difficult as you would think, he says. “When I work with someone from a different background, the connection we feel as actors is more important than culture.”
Jokes producer Michael Peyser, “And of course, these are two seriously unattractive people.”
Of course, it wouldn’t be the Wild West without a gang of terrorizing bandits, this one led by a leather mask-wearing psychopath obsessed with good teeth called the Colonel (Danny Huston). But that’s not the only thing Yang has to worry about. His clan hasn’t forgotten his betrayal and they’re willing to go to any lengths to find and kill him.
Which is another cool thing about the film. Rarely does one see ninjas fighting cowboys. Wuxia-style acrobatics versus good ol’ fashioned firepower. All in a setting of ever-saturated sunsets, stuntwork done mostly by the actors themselves and, as Huston calls it, “an exquisite ballet” in what Osbourne terms “an incredible vortex of violence.” The melding and clashing of so many contrasts (who knew Jang grew up watching his dad’s favorites Clint Eastwood and John Wayne?), including the East-West collaboration behind the film, makes it groundbreaking in many ways. — Anna M. Park
Here, Audrey Magazine sat down for a one-on-one, first with Jang Dong Gun and then with director Sngmoo Lee.
Audrey Magazine: You’re here in California doing press for The Warrior’s Way. How was your time in California this time around?
Jang Dong Gun: I feel bad because this used to be a place where I would rest and have fun, and this time around, I don’t get to do any of those things. So if I do have a day off I would love to do the things I usually enjoy — shopping, hanging out. I like the weather here.
AM: What was it like working with American film stars?
JDG: When I first heard that Geoffrey Rush and Kate Bosworth was going to be in the film, I was half excited and half worried because judging from what you hear in the tabloids, you develop a prejudice to Hollywood stars. But once I met them, I discovered that they’re wonderful people. They’re really sincere in their work and their acting and I discovered that despite the cultural differences, no matter what our culture is, we work for a common goal in the film. In the case of Kate, I just saw her [again] after a long time and she looks great. I think she looks even prettier.
AM: The film was shot in New Zealand over many months. Were you very homesick?
JDG: Yes, obviously, but the production team was really considerate and they got me a place to stay by the ocean, which was really nice. Because I was there alone for many months, that made me feel even lonelier, but there were some great Korean restaurants and I tried to just focus on the moment and enjoy the time I spent there.
AM: Your character is very awkward handling the baby in the film at first. Has the experience helped you with your new baby?
JDG: Because I shot the film first, now that I have my own child, it’s actually easier to hold him.
AM: Previously, you’ve had to learn Mandarin, and this time you learned English. How do you adopt a language in such a short amount of time?
JDG: When you’re shooting a film as an actor, there are times where you have to give and other times, when you start learning things. This time, I learned a new language and it’s great because I could work and learn at the same time.
AM: How much better is your English now?
JDG: [In English] Only a little. [Laughs.] I haven’t spoken for a long time – since filming. My English has been reduced since I haven’t spoken it for a long time.
AM: Depending on the success of this film, you may be doing more work here and in English. How do you feel about this possible transition?
JDG: Of course I will continue to study English and that’s something that, since this experience, is much more important to me now, to continue learning. It doesn’t mean I’m going to relocate, per se, but what’s more important than where the film is made is what it is. If it’s a great film, I want to work on it.
AM: How has the fan reaction been of the movie here in the U.S. versus in Asia?
JDG: I really don’t have a fan base here yet, but I hope that will continue to grow. And the support that I’ve been getting from my fans in Korea and Asia gives me a lot of encouragement.
Audrey Magazine also spoke to Korean director Sngmoo Lee.
AM: What was the entire process like getting this story to the screen?
SL: I wrote the script a long time ago. It was very new and fresh and that means it was not easy to get developed. [Potential producers] want something stereotypical and I wanted to combine drama and action together so, in that sense, it was well received, but financially, it was risky for them. So it took a lot of time for them to take this film into production.
AM: How long did it take?
SL: Ah, you don’t want to know. [Laughs.] Ten years altogether from the beginning. And then, some producers got in and we were able to get the best cast possible and from then on, everything was a blast. I really enjoyed the process and I’m really happy about the final product so … happy ending. At least for me. Regardless of the success of the movie, I am very happy that I ended up with a product I had written 11 years ago and it turned out much better than I first envisioned.
AM: There really hasn’t been an Asian hero with a Caucasian female love interest in American films. Why do you think developing that storyline was necessary?
SL: I did not originally think about that in the beginning, but I did want to show an Asian male that had a love that was more multidimensional. Because there have been many Asian male heroes, but their role was very limited to the great fighter. I wanted to push the presentation of Asian men as very sexually attractive. Because this kind of love story has never been presented on the big screen in this way before, that was very challenging for me and for the actors. And because it’s groundbreaking, I didn’t have any references. So I had to start from scratch. But the chemistry [between Kate and Dong Gun] was great so when we first met, I really didn’t have to worry about it anymore. After that, it was an automatic process. You wouldn’t view it as, “Oh, she’s Caucasian and he’s Asian.” You would just view it as two great actors loving each other onscreen. — Janice Jann
The Warrior’s Way releases in theaters on Friday, December 3. Check out the official website for more information.
In the movie Steel Magnolias, Olympia Dukakis’ character, Clairee, says that “the only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.” I would also add that as far as females are concerned, we are also defined by our ability to squeal with delight upon hearing someone has received the ultimate accessory, the engagement ring.
Recently, I have had the pleasure of being on the receiving end of said squeals. For it was November 5th at around 6 pm that Jerome asked if I might want to be his wife. He was more eloquent than that, but it was all a blur, literally, as I somehow managed to fog up my glasses while bursting into tears. (Spoiler alert: I also said yes.)
Cut to Saturday night when I went out for my sister’s birthday. Not wanting to steal the birthday girl’s thunder, I kept my mouth shut about my engagement until Kelli announced to her girlfriends that I had “news.”
So I did what any betrothed girl might do — I held out my left hand. When there’s a diamond ring involved, this gesture quickly becomes the universal sign for “I’m engaged.” This led to squeals of delight, so much so that it caught the attention of the gaggle of girls sitting next to us. After a friend exclaimed, “She just got engaged!” the entire group of girls, total strangers, erupted in cheers. This got the attention of our waitress who, once she knew what all the commotion was about, brought over a round of shots.
It was like a veritable Rube Goldberg of joy. One squeal led to another, which led to, well, free drinks.
Having never been engaged before, I had no idea how excited people got over proposals, marriage and love. And by “people,” I mean women. Sure, we have male friends and relatives who are genuinely and enthusiastically happy for us, including a few who insisted on details about the proposal, but nothing gets someone with two X chromosomes more excited than news of an engagement. Nothing. Or so says the girl who has never announced that a baby is on the way.
Had your fill of turkey? Avoiding the Black Friday crowds? Escape some of the holiday stress with some fun, beauty and plain old comedy to lift your spirits. Make sure to check out some of these awesome events going on all over the U.S., in the upcoming week.
Celebration: The Birthday in Chinese Art
What: Works in various media from the Museum’s collection explore the pervasive themes of celebration and longevity in the art of the Ming and Qing dynasties.
When: Now through November 28, 2010
Where: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10028
CAPE Soiree 2010
What: The Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment (CAPE) presents its highly-anticipated CAPE Soiree. This year’s event features special appearances by not one but both of the Mr. Sulus of Star Trek: John Cho and the legendary George Takei. Also appearing are Academy Award nominee Iris Yamashita (Letters from Iwo Jima) and Quentin Lee, director of The People I’ve Slept With. Additional celebrity guests include Dancing With the Stars’ Carrie Ann Inaba, Twilight’s Justin Chon, and Gilmore Girl’s Keiko Agena. Honorees are Comedian Ken Jeong and CBS President of Entertainment, Nina Tassler.
Founded in 1991 in Los Angeles, CAPE is a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing diversity and creating social change by actively developing, promoting, and positioning Asian Pacific Americans for key artistic and leadership roles in the entertainment industry and media arts.
When: December 2, 2010; 6:30-11:00pm
Where: Vibiana, 210 S. Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
How much: Tickets are $75.00 for CAPE Members; $95.00 for Nonmembers. A special Soiree Combo Ticket is also available.
More info: Ticket purchase and detailed information are available at www.capeusa.org.
Comedy Zen: Jokes of Fury
What: The multicultural troupe Comedy Zen presents Boston comedian Joe Wong, who has appeared on the Late Show With David Letterman, and stuntman Steven Ho, who holds the record for most appearances on the short-lived The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien. Wong will demonstrate some of his stunt work on Comedy Zen’s lucky comedian volunteers. Hasan Minhaj will host.
When: December 3, 2010 @ 8:30 pm & 10 pm
Where: 251 S. Main St., Los Angeles, CA 90012
How much: $20
KHELEIN HUM JEE JAAN SEY
What: Based on the true story of the 1930 Chittagong Uprising in British India and shot mostly in Goa, this period thrilled is helmed by the award-winning director Ashutosh Gowariker and stars two of Bollywood biggest names, Abhishek Bachchan and Deepika Padukone.
When: December 3, 2010
Where: In more than 60 theaters across the U.S. Find a theater near you at www.kheleinhumjeejaansey.com/
THE DREAMS OF JINSHA
What: The most expensive animated film ever produced in China (it took five years to make), THE DREAMS OF JINSHA was released in China in July and is now finally going to be released in the U.S. The film follows Xiao Long, a modern day middle-school student who, after being transported 3,000 years back in time to the magical kingdom of Jinsha, discovers his true destiny. Together with the beautiful Princess Hau’er, he must draw upon all his resources to fight the wicked forces threatening the peace of the kingdom.
When: December 3, 2010
Where: Laemmle’s Music Hall, Beverly Hills, CA
Thi Cosmetics Holiday Luxe Event
What: Indulge in a new look just in time for the holidays. Check out celebrity makeup artist Taylor Pham’s must-have makeup line Thi — every purchase more than $100 comes with two complimentary foundation shades, a Sakura blush (my favorite), and a Quinn lipstick! RSVP in advance (there are only 18 seats available!) and get a complimentary 30-minute color consultation. And for the entire month of December and January, get 20% off all cuts and color!
When: December 4, 2010, 12 noon to 6 pm
Where: Mimi & Taylor Salon, 522 Bryant St., Palo Alto, CA
More info: 650-327-8880, mimi-taylor.com
Long Grove Holiday Festivities
What: Stuck in the Midwest? Make the most of the chilly weather and get into the spirit and enjoy the sounds, sights, and hospitality of a bygone era. Expect to see carolers, lighting of the holiday tree, Santa sightings, and magical chimes all over the historic village.
When: Now through December 31, 2010
Where: Old McHenry Rd. at Robert Parker Coffin Rd. Long Grove, Chicago IL
Maui once again earned the award for “Best Island in the World” from the Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards Poll, its 16th straight year of receiving the honor. Impressively, the “Magic Isle” garnered the highest score of any other island in the world and was the only destination to score above 90.
Coincidentally, I just happen to visit Maui last September for a wedding my husband was in. And because the couple was getting married at the Four Seasons in Wailea, all the pre- and post-wedding festivities occurred all along the resort-filled Wailea strip. Needless to say, I got a pretty good feel for most of the major resorts there.
Now, the only other time I had gone to Maui was in the late ’90s, and then I stayed only in Kanaapaali and Hana. So this was a brand new Maui to me — one filled with mega resorts, overflowing buffets, and one too many tropical shirts revealing patches of sunburnt skin. If you like comfort, convenience and easy vacations, this is the place for you.
If, on the other hand, you like adventure, a little mystery and discovering unspoiled places … not so much.
It was day three and I was getting some serious resort fever. I needed solitude, a bit of roughing it, a quiet escape. And I found it — surprise, surprise — at yet another resort, this one the oldest of the mega resorts, the Wailea Beach Marriott Resort & Spa.
Sure, the Wailea Beach Marriott didn’t have the glitz and flash and, frankly, ostentation of the other resorts. (Sometimes I couldn’t remember if I were in Vegas or the middle of the Pacific.) What it did have was this:
* A rocky, rough, real shoreline full of black volcanic rocks, hidden tide pools and perfectly shaded isolated spots from which to soak up some real island atmosphere.
* Real live turtles floating in the waves right by the beachside walkway around the resort.
* The best loco moco on the island, at the Wailea Beach Marriott’s Mala restaurant — especially welcome after non-stop servings of rich glaze-encrusted, wine reduction’d über-meals.
Now that’s a Maui to impress.
I’m no foodie by any stretch of the imagination, nor have I ever claimed to be. But I’ve been to my fair share of restaurants and eateries in the U.S. and around the world, and since I’m a member of Privy, the exclusive members-only global networking website, they asked me for my five favorite restaurants in the Los Angeles area.
Now, when they asked me for my list, and the asker being Privy, a fairly high end-oriented website catering to a similarly high end group of Asian American movers and shakers that I don’t necessarily consider myself a part of, I was a bit hesitant. Sure, I’ve been to the chi-chi, the über-hip, the name-droppingly worthy restaurants in L.A. But those are not the places I love.
The places I love are like the tiny hole-in-the-wall banh mi place out in the middle of nowhere, where you have to eat in your car, but the barbecue pork is mouthwateringly springy and tangy and sweet, and the french bread surrounding the luscious meat is crisp and flaky and chewy at the same time …
OK, so I’m not a foodie. But I like what I like.
So here’s my top 5 restaurant picks on Privy. Warning: two of my top 5 offer no seating whatsoever. But, oh, they are soooo worth it. http://losangeles.privy.net/go/eat/Audrey-Magazine
Anyone who knows anything about online shopping knows that Tobi.com is the place to go for the hottest names in cool girl wear. Not only do they have the most coveted lines, from T by Alexander Wang to Rick Owens DRKSHDW to the oh-so covetable Opening Ceremony, the site itself is fun to browse, with user friendly categories, editorial-worthy look books, and even sections for beauty, men and eco-friendly items.
They even showcase the coolest collaborations, like Asian American fashion blogger Rumi Neely’s collaboration with jewelry designer Dannijo.
And now the girls behind the e-tailer, Indonesian American Corina Nurimba and Chinese American Catherine Chow, are giving Audrey readers a special deal on their stuff — just in time for the holidays!
Just use promo code AUDREY30 at checkout and you get 30% off your purchase! That’s 30% off Elizabeth and James, Kai-aakman, even MM6 Maison Martin Margiela. They’ve got affordable brands like BB Dakota; plenty of Asian American designers like Michelle Mason, Joy Gryson and Kasil; and the super high end stuff like Tom Ford eyewear and Comme des Garcons. For Tobi, it’s all about the editing — everything they’ve got up is just uber cool.
You have until December 31, 2010, 11:59 pm, PDT to use the code, and the discount applies to regular priced items only and does not include the following brands: A.P.C., Anthony Logistics for Men, Comme des Garcons, Comme des Garcons Play, Converse, Dannijo x Fashiontoast Collection, G-Star, Hudson Jeans, Hunter, J Brand, Nixon, TOMS Shoes and UGG. So get shopping!
And as a little taste of what Tobi has to offer, Corina and Catherine are giving away a pair of Siwy denim of your choice offered at Tobi.com to one lucky Audrey reader! If you don’t know by now, the denim line founded by Vietnamese-Polish American Michelle Siwy is a cult favorite (I mean, Kate Moss is photographed all over the place wearing her pair — ’nuff said). Check out their “Naughty” style from their upcoming holiday collection (right). Hot!
So don’t miss out on a chance to get your own! Now, pay attention ’cause here’s what you have to do:
1. Become a fan of Tobi’s Facebook page;
2. Comment on three AudreyMagazine.com posts (substance, people, I want to read some substance!);
3. Comment to this post telling us which three posts you commented on; and
4. Finally, tell us why you deserve a free pair of Siwy denim!
You have until Wednesday, November 24, 11:59 pm to comment, and you must have a U.S. mailing address to win. Good luck!
I know, I know. But we have to keep our readers on their toes! We get so many great offers from great vendors, we had to throw in an awesome giveaway mid-week. And this one’s just in time for the holidays.
The Spa at Equinox in Century City, Calif., is one posh spa. Sure, they’ve got your usual massages and facials. But what about their Equinox Solstice Aquatherapy, where your own Bath Butler creates a customized bath to address your wellness needs? Or the Advanced Total Body Resurfacing, a state-of-the-art head-to-toe treatment to get rid of wrinkles, brown spots and sagging skin? Or the heavenly sounding BodyMelt, using a patented blend of stimulation and specialized products to provide immediate inch less and muscle tone? The urban getaway provides a modern and innovative approach to wellness, addressing the specific needs of their clientele. And of course, all spa guests enjoy complimentary valet parking, use of the state of the art fitness facility, indoor Jacuzzis, steam room, and sauna on the day of their service. Get more info on the spa here.
And now the Spa is offering you, the readers of Audrey Magazine, 20 percent off any of their amazing spa services. All you have to do is mention this offer when you book.
Even better, one lucky winner will receive a complimentary 50-min Cranberry Sugar Body Polish. All you have to do is email your full name and email address to email@example.com by Friday, November 19, 2010, 11:59 p.m., and then comment below.
P.S. All entrants and the winner must be 18 or older. The winner must get their body polish at the Spa at Equinox before December 31, 2010.
We told you fashion model Liu Wen landed an Estée Lauder contract back in April. Now we have a sneak peek of the behind the scenes photos from Liu Wen’s first major campaign with Estée Lauder, Wild Violet, available at Estée Lauder counters starting January 1, 2011.
What do you think of her look?
More photos after the jump.
Last night was the press preview party for Small Gift L.A., a 10-day carnival full of Hello Kitty and Sanrio goodness in Santa Monica, Calif. Wow, was it a doozy! Hello Kitty goodness galore! From Kitty cars to Kitty art to a giant Kitty ferris wheel and miniature golf course. We gorged ourselves on free Pink’s hotdogs and Beard Papa’s cream puffs, played free Ms. Pac-man and Galaga, and got gussied up with Hello Kitty’s new makeup line launching at Sephora in January. I felt like I was 8 again (and in a very, very good way).
Don’t worry if you missed it. Not only is the carnival free until November 21, they’re having a special nerd party this Saturday the 13th.
You may not have been able to attend the fat press preview party, but we snagged three extra gift bags just for our readers! It includes Small Gift, Sanrio’s exclusive 50th Anniversary book, and a whole slew of the cutest, happiest, cutest (did I mention cutest?) happy-goodness I’ve seen in a long time.
1) Look through our previous posts and comment on three of them.
2) On the comments section below THIS post, tell us which three posts you commented on AND tell me who your favorite Sanrio character was growing up (mine were Keroppi, Little Twin Stars, and of course, My Melody — I’m old school that way)
We will select the best comments to win. An @audreymagazine tweet will also count as a comment! Giveaway submissions end Wednesday, November 17, 11:59 pm. As usual, a U.S. mailing address is required.
Good luck! (And more info on carnival here and on the nerd party below.)
It’s a tough economy and we can all use a little boost. And a boost to the spirit — helped by a new ‘do — is sometimes just as important.
That’s why Kimora Lee Simmons and Byu-ti Hair Therapy Salon in Los Angeles got together to give 50 recent graduates from the nonprofit Dress for Success program new looks to go with their new outlook on life and career.
Natasha Sunshine, owner of Byu-ti, together with her talented staff (who have trimmed the tresses of such clients as Molly Sims and Ivanka Trump), created hairstyles to complement the women’s new professional outfits. “Looking your best can be an asset on an interview because when you look great, you radiate confidence making you more attractive to others,” said Sunshine. Each stylist took the time to educate the women on how to replicate their new look at home before a job interview.
Lee Simmons, CEO of Phat Fashions, shared a word of encouragement to the women, doling out advice and support. Though best known for her fashion ventures and modeling work, the Korean-Japanese-African American is no stranger to charitable causes. In addition to being on numerous nonprofit boards, she established the Kimora Lee Simmons Scholarship Fund at her old high school in St. Louis to provide college tuition support to academically successful girls in financial need.
Founded in 1997, Dress for Success aids disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and the career development tools to help women thrive in work and in life. The nonprofit also has employment retention programs that provide women with ongoing support as they transition into the workforce.
Photos courtesy of The Style Network.