Thursday, March 31, 2011

Alan Tang - HK's Alain Delon

Alan Tang Kwong Wing's death from a stroke on March 29, 2011 has robbed Hong Kong and Taiwan of a brilliant leading man, producer and director.

Read all about him here. Thanks Wikipedia.

Alan Tang Kwong Wing (September 20, 1946 – March 29, 2011) was a Hong Kong film actor, producer and director.

Tang was born in Shunde, Guangdong, China, the youngest of four children.

His first starring role was actually at 16 in the 1963 film The Student Prince.

Upon graduation from secondary school, Tang acted in Hong Kong youth films starring Josephine Hsiao, Chen Chen, and Connie Chan throughout the 1960s.

Tang was often voted Best Actor by film magazines.

Tang found greater fame when he moved to Taiwan during the 1970s, and made over 60 feature films, often dramas and romances.

He often co-starred with Brigette Lin.

In 1974, Tang produced and starred in Splendid Love In Winter with Chen Chen, and Dynamite Brothers with American footballer Timothy Brown.

In 1977, he formed The Wing-Scope Company.

A decade later, Tang established In-Gear Film Productions, with his brother Rover Tang.

Well-known films of Tang during this time included Flaming Brothers, Gangland Odyssey, Return Engagement, Gun N Rose and The Black Panther Warriors.

He also produced two films directed by Wong Kar Wai, As Tears Go By and Days Of Being Wild.

In the 1990s, Tang became a restaurant businessman. He also became the godfather of Adam Cheng's daughter, actress Joyce Cheng.

Tang was a generous celebrity who devoted much of his time to philanthropy.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor - Grand Dame Of British Cinema

Dame Elizabeth Rosemond Taylor, (February 27, 1932 – March 23, 2011) will always be remembered as the grand dame of British cinema.

The former child star who passed away after a long illness recently, was known for both her acting talent and beauty.

She was also frequently in the spotlight because of her Hollywood lifestyle, and many marriages.

Taylor is considered one of the greatest actresses of Hollywood's golden age.

She was born in Hampstead, a wealthy district of North West London, the second child of Francis Lenn Taylor (1897–1968) and Sara Viola Warmbrodt (1895–1994), who were Americans residing in the United Kingdom.

She was of British, Jewish (Israeli), Spanish, Portuguese, Iranian and Native American heritage.

Taylor's family came from Arkansas City, Kansas.

Her father was an art dealer and her mother a former actress.

She was a dual citizen of the UK and the US for life.

At three, Taylor took ballet lessons. Shortly before World War II, her parents returned to the United States.

The Taylors were family friends of Andrea Berens, a wealthy British socialite and the fiancee of Cheever Cowden, chairman of Universal Pictures in Hollywood.

Berens introduced Sara and Elizabeth to Cowden, and he had her signed to Universal as an actress.

Taylor appeared in her first film at nine, There's One Born Every Minute.

Not long after, she joined Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) and starred in Lassie Come Home.
This 1943 film featured her lifelong pal Roddy McDowall.

In 1944, she starred in Jane Eyre.

At 12, she played Velvet Brown in National Velvet. Velvet was a young girl who trains her horse to win the Grand National.

The film also rocketed Mickey Rooney and Angela Lansbury to fame.

In 1946, she starred in The Courage Of Lassie.

Other notable films in the 1940s were Life With Father (1947), Cynthia (1947), A Date With Judy (1948) and Julia Misbehaves (1948).

In 1949, she starred in Conspirator which bombed at the box office.

But her portrayal of 21-year-old debutante Melinda Grayton was praised by critics.

Her first major box office success in an adult role was Kay Banks in the romantic comedy Father Of The Bride (1950).

In late 1949, Taylor starred in A Place In The Sun as a spoiled socialite.

The Last Time I Saw Paris (1954) saw her reunited with her Big Hangover co-star Van Johnson.

Following a substantial role opposite Rock Hudson and James Dean in Giant (1956), Taylor was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress. She was also nominated for her roles in Raintree County (1957), Cat On A Hot Tin Roof (1958) and Suddenly Last Summer (1959).

In 1960, she starred in Cleopatra as the title character. Her future husband, British actor Richard Burton played Mark Antony.

Taylor won her first Academy Award for Best Actress for Butterfield 8 (1960), which co-starred then husband Eddie Fisher.

Her second Best Actress award was in Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (1966), which co-starred Burton.

Burton and Taylor starred in six films during the decade – The VIPs (1963), The Sandpiper (1965), The Taming Of The Shrew (1967), Doctor Faustus (1967), The Comedians {1967} and Boom! (1968).

Taylor appeared in Reflections In A Golden Eye (1967) opposite Marlon Brando and Secret Ceremony (1968) opposite Mia Farrow.

Taylor continued to star in numerous theatrical films throughout the 1970s, such as Zee And Co (1972) with Michael Caine, Ash Wednesday (1973), The Blue Bird (1976) with Jane Fonda and Ava Gardner and A Little Night Music (1977).

With then-husband Burton, she co-starred in the 1972 films Under Milk Wood and Hammersmith Is Out and the 1973 made-for-TV movie Divorce His, Divorce Hers.
Taylor starred in the 1980 mystery film The Mirror Cracked, based on an Agatha Christie novel.

In 1985, she played movie gossip columnist Louella Parsons in the TV film Malice In Wonderland.

Her last theatrical film was 1994's The Flintstones.

In the 2000s she starred in television series such as General Hospital, All My Children and The Simpsons.

Taylor made her Broadway and West End debuts in 1982 in The Little Foxes.

She also starred in Noel Coward's Private Lives (1983) with Burton.

On December 5, 2007, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger inducted Taylor into the California Hall Of Fame, located at The California Museum For History, Women And The Arts.

Taylor devoted much time and energy to AIDS-related charities and fundraising. She helped start the American Foundation for AIDS Research after the death of her former co-star and friend, Rock Hudson.

She also created her own AIDS foundation, the Elizabeth Taylor Aids Foundation (ETAF).

By 1999, she had helped to raise an estimated US$50 million to fight the disease.

She also became a close pal of Michael Jackson, and attended his funeral in 2009.

Taylor was married seven times to Conrad Hilton (1950-51), Michael Wilding (1952-57), Michael Todd (1957-58, he died), Eddie Fisher (1959-64), Richard Burton (1964-74, 1975-76), John Warner (1976-82) and Larry Fortensky (1991-1996).

She is survived by two sons (from Wilding) and two daughters (one each from Todd and Burton).

She has nine grandchildren.

Monday, March 14, 2011

About Japan

Thanks Wikipedia.

Japan is an island nation in East Asia.

Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south.

The characters that make up Japan's name mean "sun-origin", which is why Japan is sometimes referred to as the "Land Of The Rising Sun".

Japan is an archipelago of 6,852 islands.

The four largest islands are Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku, together accounting for ninety seven percent of Japan's land area.

Japan has the world's tenth largest population, with over 127 million people.

Since adopting its revised constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected parliament called the Diet.

A major economic power, Japan is the world's fourth largest exporter and fifth largest importer.

Although Japan has officially renounced its right to declare war, it maintains an extensive modern military force in self-defense and peacekeeping roles.

Japan has the highest life expectancy of any country in the world.

The English word Japan is an exonym.

The Japanese names for Japan are Nippon and Nihon.

Japanese people refer to themselves as Nihonjin and to their language as Nihongo.

Both Nippon and Nihon mean "sun-origin".

The British coined the name Japan from the Malay word Jepang which is derived from the Shanghai Chinese word for the country, Zepen.

The Japanese are of Chinese and Mon origin.

The Ryukyu Islanders in the south of Japan are the same people as the aboriginals of Taiwan and the people of the Philippines.

They are Austronesians of the Bajau subgroup (Kenyah in Sarawak and Kayan in Indonesian Borneo aka Banjarmasin).

Japan received Buddhism from the Koreans.

During the 16th century, traders and missionaries from Portugal reached Japan, initiating direct commercial and cultural exchange between Japan and the West (Nanban trade).

On March 31, 1854, the United States' representative Matthew Perry inked a business treaty with the Japanese monarch.

Emperor Meiji subsequently introduced a constitution for Japan and modernised the country extensively.

After victories in the First Sino-Japanese War (1894–1895), Japan gained control of Taiwan and Korea.

World War I enabled Japan, which joined the side of the victorious Allies, to widen its influence and territorial holdings.

It occupied Manchuria in 1931, and in 1940, joined Adolf Hitler's Germany fighting the Allies in World War II.

Japan invaded China in 1937, precipitating the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937–1945).

In 1940, it took South East Asia and on December 7, 1941, attacked the United States' naval base at Pearl Harbour.

After the Soviet invasion of Manchuria and the American atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945, Japan surrendered to the Allies.

The Allies (led by the United States ) repatriated millions of ethnic Japanese from colonies and military camps throughout Asia.

The Allies also convened the International Military Tribunal For The Far East on May 3, 1946 to prosecute some Japanese leaders for war crimes.

However, the bacteriological research units and members of the imperial family involved in the war were exonerated from criminal prosecutions by the Supreme Allied Commander despite calls for trials for both groups.

In 1947, Japan adopted a new constitution emphasising liberal democratic practices.

The Allied occupation ended with the Treaty Of San Francisco in 1952 and Japan was granted membership in the United Nations in 1956.

Japan later achieved rapid growth to become the second largest economy in the world.

On March 11, 2011, Japan suffered the strongest earthquake in its recorded history.

It had a magnitude of 9.0 and was aggravated by a tsunami, affecting the northeast area of Honshu, including the capital city Tokyo.

About 73 percent of Japan is forested, mountainous and unsuitable for agricultural, industrial, or residential use.

As a result, the habitable zones, mainly located in coastal areas, have extremely high population densities.

The islands of Japan are located in a volcanic zone on the Pacific Ring Of Fire.

The climate of Japan is predominantly temperate, but varies greatly from north to south.

Japan's geographical features divide it into six principal climatic zones: Hokkaido, Sea Of Japan, Central Highlands, Seto Inland Sea, Pacific Ocean, and Ryukyu Islands.

The northernmost zone, Hokkaido, has a temperate climate with long, cold winters and cool summers.

In the Sea Of Japan zone on Honshu's west coast, northwest winter winds bring heavy snowfall.

In the summer, the region is cooler than the Pacific area, though it sometimes experiences extremely hot temperatures.

The Central Highlands has a typical inland climate, with large temperature differences between summer and winter, and between day and night.

The mountains of the Chugoku and Shikoku regions shelter the Seto Inland Sea from seasonal winds, bringing mild weather year-round.

The Pacific coast experiences cold winters with little snowfall and hot, humid summers.

The Ryukyu Islands have a subtropical climate, with warm winters and hot summers.
Japan has nine forest ecoregions which reflect the climate and geography of the islands.

They range from subtropical forests in the Ryukyu Islands, to temperate forests in the mild climate regions of the main islands and the cold northern islands.

Japan has over 90,000 species of wildlife, including the brown bear, the Japanese macaque, the raccoon dog, and the Japanese giant salamander.

Japan is one of the world's leaders in the development of new environment-friendly technologies, and is ranked 20th best in the world in the 2010 Environmental Performance Index.

Japan is a constitutional monarchy where the power of the Emperor is very limited.

As a ceremonial figurehead, he is defined by the constitution as "the symbol of the state and of the unity of the people".

Power is held chiefly by the Prime Minister of Japan and other elected members of the Diet, while sovereignty is vested in the Japanese people.

Japan's legislative organ is the National Diet, a bicameral parliament.

The Diet consists of a House of Representatives with 480 seats, elected by popular vote every four years or when dissolved, and a House of Councillors of 242 seats, whose popularly-elected members serve six-year terms.

There is universal suffrage for adults over 20 years of age.

Japan consists of forty seven prefectures, each overseen by an elected governor, legislature and administrative bureaucracy.

Each prefecture is further divided into cities, towns and villages.

Japan has a large industrial capacity, and is home to some of the largest and most technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, electronics, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemical substances, textiles and processed foods.

Agricultural businesses in Japan often utilise a system of terrace farming, and crop yields are high.

Japan is the second largest producer of automobiles in the world.

Its main exports are transportation equipment, motor vehicles, electronics, electrical machinery and chemicals.

Japan is a leading nation in scientific research, particularly technology, machinery and biomedical research.

Some of Japan's more prominent technological contributions are in the fields of electronics, automobiles, machinery, earthquake engineering, industrial robotics, optics, chemicals, semiconductors and metals.

Primary schools, secondary schools and universities were introduced in 1872.

Since 1947, compulsory education in Japan comprises elementary and middle school, which together last for nine years (from ages 6 to 15).

Japanese music is eclectic and diverse.

Many instruments, such as the koto, were introduced in the 9th and 10th centuries.

The accompanied recitative of the Noh drama dates from the 14th century and the popular folk music, with the guitar-like shamisen, from the sixteenth.

Historically, the primary ingredient of Japanese cuisine has been Japanese rice.

In the early modern era ingredients such as red meats that had previously not been widely used in Japan were introduced.

Japanese cuisine offers a vast array of regional specialties.

Traditionally, sumo is considered Japan's national sport.

Japanese martial arts such as judo, karate and kendo are also widely practiced and enjoyed by spectators in the country.

Japan hosted the Summer Olympics in Tokyo in 1964.

The Japanese professional baseball league was established in 1936.

Today baseball is the most popular spectator sport in the country.

One of the most famous Japanese baseball players is Ichiro Suzuki, who plays for the Seattle Mariners.

Since the establishment of the Japan Professional Football League in 1992, association football has also gained a wide following.

Japan was a venue of the Intercontinental Cup from 1981 to 2004 and co-hosted the 2002 FIFA World Cup with South Korea.

Japan has one of the most successful football teams in Asia, winning the Asian Cup four times.