Hollywood Reporter: Jackie Chan touts success of ‘Dragon Blade,’ declares his patriotism

The Hollywood Reporter:

Hong Kong action legend Jackie Chan celebrated the success of his latest historical action movie Dragon Blade, which this week passed the $80 million threshold in China, and responded to accusations of nationalism by saying he was a proud patriot.

Chan stars as the commander of the Protectorate of the Western Regions who teams up with Lucius to protect China’s borders and sovereignty, which has prompted accusations that Chan is playing the patriotic card in the hunt for box-office success.

I have always been a patriot. Is it wrong? If people are cursed for being a patriot, please curse me,” Chan told M1905, the official web site of state broadcaster CCTV’s movie channel CCTV6.”Seven years ago, I wanted to do this film. I didn’t make the film because the government policy wants to protect the Silk Road. I am ahead of them. I hope chairman Xi (Jinping) gets to watch this film.”

Dragon Blade was the big winner of the Lunar New Year holiday to welcome the Year of the Goat, taking $72 million in its first six days in the country.

Starring Chan, Cusack and Brody and directed by Daniel Lee, Dragon Blade is based on a story about a missing legion of Roman soldiers that traveled into China in 48 BC. The cast also includes South Korea‘s Choi Si-won, member of the K-pop band Super Junior, who previously appeared in Battle of Wits.

Cusack plays Lucius, a Roman general who led a legion of 1,000 soldiers into Han Dynasty China. Brody plays Tiberius, who after assassinating Rome’s Consul Crassus chases after Lucius with a force of 100,000 soldiers.

Chan was speaking at an event in Beijing to celebrate Dragon Blade passing the 500 million yuan ($80 million) mark. Chan went on to say that he doesn’t care about box office or online promotion. “I don’t understand e-commerce. After I finish shooting, it’s finished,” he said.

Chan recently welcomed his son Jaycee home from jail by giving him a haircut. Jaycee Chan‘s long locks seemed to have survived his six months in jail after being convicted of drugs charges, having been caught up in the government’s aggressive anti-narcotics campaign.

 

A look inside Eddie Huang’s Chinese New Year feast, topped off with Hennessy Milk Tea

Eddie Huang’s Chinese New Year menu was complemented by an endless amount of Hennessy’s Red Ram cocktail. 

The Daily Meal: 

Chinese New Year… If you’ve never celebrated before, here’s a look at one Chinese chef’s interpretation.

Last week, a few days in advance of the real start of the Year of the Goat, Baohaus chef Eddie Huang hosted a New Year’s celebration in partnership with Hennessy, a label which will be especially familiar to anyone who’s attended his or her share of Chinese weddings.

Huang’s menu for the evening, a six-course affair put together in the tiny kitchen of No. 7 Restaurant in Brooklyn, featured lion’s head chicken soup, Hainan lobster salad, chili miso-braised fish, and Szechuan roasted black garlic chicken. As an interlude, guests were treated to a traditional lion’s head dance typically reserved for boisterous Chinatown streets around New Year’s.

The evening’s sponsor made sure that every glass was full of Red Ram, a cocktail created especially for the evening. Eddie, who has partnered with Hennessy in the past, even created a Hennessy Privilege Milk Tea (paired with egg tarts from Taipan Bakery in Chinatown) that actually made this author appreciate milk tea (black tea sweetened with condensed milk).

When we sat down with Eddie to talk about his love for the holiday, he brought over a full plate of roasted chicken and recalled his early role in the kitchen.

My mom worked, so she would call me on the way home, and I would get things ready so that when she got home, she could just cook. I was always my mom’s prep cook.”

Quickly, that role expanded to one of household handyman.

My mom bought a pressure washer and had me pressure wash the house. She would see other people get services, like this guy pressure washing or this guy cleaning the pool, and she would be like, ‘What chemicals do you use? Where do you buy the machines?’ and she would be like, ‘Guess what? You’re now pressure washing the house and cleaning the pool.’

There are lots of things you wouldn’t think kids can do until parents force them to, I offer.

Mulan joined the army,” Eddie says in agreement.

On Fresh Off the Boat, the ABC sitcom inspired by Huang’s memoir of the same name, we’ve yet to see a young Eddie face these challenges. The chef has made it clear that the resemblance between the show and its source material continues to diverge. Will there be, for instance, an episode of the show that features this holiday — the most important one of the Chinese calendar?

I don’t know if any of this will be on the sitcom because they never do any of the real s–t on that show, but on Vice we’re gonna do it. You’re on Vice right now.”

And, lastly, who in Huang’s family is known for being the most generous giver of the all-important red envelope?

Grandparents.”

Hong Kong leader calls on citizens to be more like sheep, ‘Mild and Gentle Animals’

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Hong Kong’s chief executive, his highness CY Leung, delivered a Chinese New Year greeting exactly as you would expect him to.

Next Shark:

To ring in the Year of the Sheep, Leung, known for his distrust of poor people, wants the citizens of Hong Kong to be like sheep, “mild and gentle animals” that aren’t known for holding pro-democracy protests. His statement was released in a video he filmed from the Government House (read imperial palace) and which featured his wife, Regina Leung Tong Ching-yee, and a group of smiling children who reportedly aren’t paid actors, because of course he wouldn’t pay them.

“Another Chinese New Year has arrived. It is time to bid farewell to the Year of the Horse and welcome the Year of the Sheep. The 12 Chinese zodiac animals represent 12 character types. Sheep are widely seen to be mild and gentle animals living peacefully in groups.

Last year was no easy ride for Hong Kong. Our society was rife with differences and conflicts. In the coming year, I hope that all people in Hong Kong will take inspiration from the sheep’s character and pull together in an accommodating manner to work for Hong Kong’s future.

At the beginning of the Year of the Sheep, we wish every one of you good health, great happiness and a harmonious family life.”

According to Shanghaiist, Hong Kong Democratic Party Chairwoman Emily Lau Wai-hing told SCMP that, while in his mind, he was probably referring to the virtues of the sheep, like loyalty and compassion, Leung has been anything but.

“[But] then he himself is doing exactly the opposite to provoke so much confrontation and he is tearing the society apart. It’s very contradictory and duplicitous.”

It wouldn’t be surprising to know then that most people in Hong Kong consider him more of a wolf. Add the fact that China’s leading linguist actually said it’s the Year of the Goat, not the Sheep, and CY Leung is just making promotional videos full of wishful thinking.

CY Leung’s daughter, make-believe, aspiring model Chai Yan, has not yet released her annual thank you statement to the tax-paying sheep of Hong Kong.

Why do people get cash stuffed into red envelopes during Chinese New Year?

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Next Shark: 

Red envelopes have been a staple of Chinese New Year for as long as anyone can remember. No matter whether you celebrate the holiday or not, you’ve probably wondered why your Asian friends receive red envelopes filled with cash every year. Heck, many recipients of red envelopes don’t know why either.

Origins

Unfortunately, there is no one consensus on where the red envelopes came from. One popular story dates back to the Qing Dynasty, where the elderly would thread coins with a red string. This money was called yāsuì qián, meaning “money warding off evil spirits,” and was believed to protect elder people from sickness and death. As the printing press became more common, the yāsuì qián was replaced with red envelopes.

Another legend tells of a village where a demon would terrorize children at night. It was believed that the demon would touch the children’s heads while they were asleep, causing serious illness or death. From there, a theory emerged that when they prayed, God would send eight fairies to protect the child. The fairies would disguise themselves as eight coins and hide under the child’s pillow. When the demon would get close, the coins would began to shine very bright, blinding the demon. Word began to spread and the villagers started giving out red envelopes filled with coins to each other to put under their pillows at night. As time passed, red envelopes became a way to bring good luck and prosperity to the receiver.

How much do you get?

The amount of money depends on the occasion, but the amount typically ends with an even digit, as odd numbers are traditionally associated with funerals. Additionally, it is believed that money should never be given in fours, nor should the number “4” appear in the amount (i.e: 400, 444, 4004), as the chinese word for “four” sounds similar to the word “death.”

Who gets them?

During Chinese New Year, red envelopes are typically given by the married to children and the unmarried. The red symbolizes good luck and the money wishes the recipient good fortune for times to come. The red envelopes are also used to fend off bad spirits. It’s not uncommon for red envelopes to be given during birthdays and other special occasions as well.

Chinese weddings are also occasions when red envelopes come into play. The amount given is supposed to cover the cost of the attendees and as a way to wish the newlyweds good luck. While red envelopes shouldn’t be opened in front of the giver, it’s different during weddings. During Chinese weddings, there is a table at the front of the wedding reception where guests can drop off red envelopes as gifts and sign their names on a large scroll. The envelopes are then immediately opened, counted and then recorded to show how much each guest gave. Why? It’s mainly to bookkeep and to make sure the money matches with what the guests brought at the end of the night. Another reasons is that when single guests finally get married, the bride and groom are expected to give the guest more money than what they received at their own wedding.

At work, it’s a tradition that Chinese companies give away red envelopes to their employees on the eve of Chinese New Year. Alibaba has participated in the tradition before, however, according to Fortune, CEO Jack Ma recently announced that they will not give away red envelopes this year due to mediocre performance.

Other Etiquette

You’re also supposed to avoid putting coins in the envelopes, which makes it difficult for people to gauge the amount before opening. Also it’s tradition to put crisp, new bills inside, which explains why my grandma always went to the bank to switch old bills with new ones every year.

So, there you have it… Happy Chinese New Year!

Nike’s wild new shoes for Chinese basketball league

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RocketNews 24:

Shoemaker Nike owes its success as much to the marketing that backs its footwear as the science behind it. But as one of the biggest athletic apparel companies on the planet, the Nike swoosh is hardly a rare sight these days, so if the Oregon-based company really wants to catch people’s eyes, it has to get a little more flamboyant with its designs.

That’s as true in emerging markets as it is in established ones, which is why Nike’s new pair of kicks made especially for China might be the wildest the company has ever made, and come packed with all sorts of imagery meant to make sure fortune smiles on theirs wearers while everyone is looking at their feet.

Called the Nike Air Foamposite One China Tianjins, the ostentatious high tops are named for Tianjin City, home of the Tianjin Lions professional basketball team. The Lions are one of seven teams in the China Basketball League, and have reached all 11 championship contests the organization has held, winning five of them.

You won’t see any overt basketball references on the Nike Tianjins, though. What you will find, though, are a collection of auspicious images and phrases. Near the laces there’s a pattern evocative of fish scales, chosen due to the words “fish” and “abundance” being homonyms in Chinese.

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The theme continues with what looks to be at least one swimming crimson fish per side of the shoe. The graphics also feature such images of good fortune such as a field of blossoming lotus flowers and a plump child.

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The Tianjins are even working to bring you luck in places where no one can see it. On each insole, printed in gold letters, is the phrase Prosperity for years to come.”

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Unique as the Tianjins may be, though, some online comments in Japan show that not everyone is impressed by the aesthetics of Nike’s decision to cram so much cultural significance into the limited canvas the shoes provide.

“I don’t even think [crazily costumed idol singer] Kyaru Pamyu Pamyu would be caught in these.”
“I can imagine see some old lady strutting around wearing them in [Tokyo’s senior mecca] Tsugamo.”
“Instead of making these ugly things, can Nike hurry it up with the self-tying shoes already?”

The opinions of these Japanese detractors are kind of a moot point, though. The Tianjins will be sold exclusively in China, where they go on sale February 7, just in time for Chinese New Year.

Burberry’s oriental strategy goes awry, gets roundly mocked by Chinese netizens

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RocketNews 24:

Burberry, one of the most famous luxury brands in the world, recently caused havoc on Chinese internet with their new product – a scarf with the Chinese character for prosperity (福) embroidered on it. This character is often used in Chinese New Year decorations and is seen as a sign of good luck. Clearly Burberry thought that if they threw the character on a scarf, it would sell millions of them China.

As it turned out, the Chinese positively hated it…

When one Weibo user came across Burberry’s New Year’s scarf and shared images of it on the social network, the post garnered nearly 15,000 shares in just five days, with nearly 4,000 comments, almost all of which were negative. The scarf is made from wool and printed with the signature Burberry pattern. On the company’s website, the product is described to “celebrate the joys of Chinese New Year and the prosperity of the Year of the Goat”. At a pricey 5,750 RMB (US$919), the scarf comes in three colors: stone, charcoal and camel.

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However, netizens were completely unimpressed by this gesture. One commented that the scarf looked like “it costs 35 RMB (US$5.60)”. Another complained that even his colleague’s mother wouldn’t buy something so unfashionable.

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Burberry definitely miscalculated their strategies this time. According to critics, Chinese consumers actually harbor a strong dislike for anything ‘Made in China’ so they would rather buy American or European brands. The Chinese character on the Burberry scarf had the opposite effect – it made the product look like a cheap knock-off.

A closer look at the Converse 2015 Chuck Taylor All Star Premium “Year of the Goat”