15 Sep 2017

Rigor Mortis

There was a lot of hype when Rigor Mortis was released in the autumn of 2013. Hailed as a tribute to the Mr Vampire series which was wildly popular in Hong Kong in the 1980s, debut director Juno Mak assembled an all-Hong Kong cast of actors and actresses, many of whom had acted in various Vampire movies in their salad days.

With a Hong Kong director and all-Hong Kong cast, Rigor Mortis would have been an irresistible movie to me. It had been a very long time since I had watched a proper Hong Kong movie, the likes of Stephen Chow’s Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons were spectacular in set design, costume design and CGI with generous funding from investors and no doubt highly sellable to a market with 13 billion potential movie watchers, but also included actors and actresses I could not identify with.

And somehow, it took four years before I finally watched Rigor Mortis. Why? I had to admit while the movie poster of Richard Ng with the lower part of his face covered by ancient Chinese coins drew me in, it pushed me away at the same time, not having seen such a design in the Mr Vampire series. The Mr Vampire series conditioned me to expect seeing pale-faced fangy chinese vampires in Qing Dynasty costumes, most of the time with yellow talismans stuck on their foreheads to immobilise them.

Four autumns gone and I finally summoned the courage to watch Rigor Mortis. And I came away wondering if Juno Mak had expected to elicit certain emotions in his audience four autumns ago.

Rigor Mortis told the story of a group of disparate people living in a run-down apartment in Hong Kong:
· A has-been actor (played by Chin Siu Ho) who used in act in vampire movies in his heydays. Said actor had a poor childhood living in a similar run-down apartment. Now, life came full circle for the man who returned dispiritedly to his roots, estranged from his wife and son and without any will to live.
· A deranged mother (played by Kara Hui) and her albino son put up by the kindly security guard.
· An elderly couple (played by Paw Hee-ching and Richard Ng) living out their last days. The wife’s reluctance to accept her husband’s death caused her to go mentally unhinged in her attempt to revive her dead husband.
· A hawker (played by Anthony Chan) descended from vampire slayers but who resorted to cooking when there were no more vampires to slay. Despite that, the hawker could not bear to discard his tools-of-the-trade for slaying vampires.
· A kindly security guard (played by Lo Hoi-pang) who died at the hands of the wife when he tried to probe her husband’s disappearance.
· A practitioner of the dark arts (played by Chung Fat) who prolonged his life through dubious means.

Juno Mak created very sombre grayish sets and characters for Rigor Mortis. Practically all the characters were depressing and it felt like they were trapped in their helpless existance to which there was no light at the end of the tunnel. The apartment had peeling exteriors, and the atmosphere was heavy with helplessness. Was it a pointed reference to the state of Hong Kong cinema or Hong Kong society as a whole? Hong Kong cinema and by extension Hong Kong society used to be vibrant with vampire series, slap-stick comedies and action thrillers that were so Hong Kong. One could feel hope, that there would always be a better tomorrow, through the celluloid screen.

There was a very strong sense of pinning and longing for the yesteryears in Rigor Mortis. This however, would be totally lost on an audience expecting a slasher-flick without the emotional connection and cultural context to understand Juno Mak’s choice of cast. Obviously, the audience would also be unable to recognize that all the characters were essentially trapped in their own memories.

The has-been actor had no will to live any longer, and went back to where he used to live to end his life. Trapped in his yesteryears, he kept his old acting costumes, used a very old handphone and remembered his son – a very young boy.

The deranged mother came home one day to discover a bloodbath in her apartment, her husband lying in his blood with a pair of twins he tutored, one lying in her blood and the other suspended from a ceiling fan. Unable to tear herself away, she returned each day to her old apartment, seeing the same carnage repeatedly in her mind.

The old wife could not accept her husband’s death and pleaded with the practioner of dark arts to revive her husband. Increasingly impatient for results, she killed the probing security guard and fed the albino boy to her husband, causing him to become a vampire.

There were no more vampires to slay in modern Hong Kong for the hawker, yet he clung to the possessions left to him by his father.

The practitioner of dark arts was in the terminal stage of lung cancer and sought to prolong his life through spirits.

Having eaten the albino boy, the vampire turned increasingly ferocious as his empty shell of a body was possessed by the vengeful twins. The has-been actor sought the assistance of the hawker and after a hard fight, both leapt off the apartment with the vampire as the first rays of morning sun arrived, burning the vampire to ashes. The wife arrived in time to witness the burning ashes of her husband and slit her throat, falling dead and burning together with him.

The movie then cut to the beginning sequence where the has-been actor moved into the now not-so-dilapidated apartment building. Colours were brighter with sunshine streaming into the apartment’s skywell. The security guard slept on his job, and the deranged mother was a picture of sunshine normality asking her albino son what he wanted for lunch. The wife’s husband was already dead while she had an air of serenity about her. The hawker became a bumbling hawker’s assistant who arrived too late to save the has-been actor from his suicide attempt. At the mortuary, the previous practitioner of dark arts was now a medical examiner who pulled out the has-been actor’s corpse to be identified by his grown-up son. The identification tag on the actor’s toe indicated his age as 50.

It was an unexpected ending after the very adrenaline-charging fight sequence between the vampire and the actor. So it seems that only one character was trapped in his own memories, unable to move on. As the noose tightened around the actor’s neck and his oxygen supply dwindled increasingly, in his mind, he re-imagined his new neighbours in his last heroic attempt at being useful - slaying a vampire, thereby saving the rest of the
occupants in the apartment building. Pointedly, the actor was 50 when he committed suicide. Was that a reference to Hong Kong’s One Country Two Systems? Was the actor’s reluctance to move on a message that things may not be as bad as they seem if one was willing to accept and move? The wife accepted her husband’s death and did not have that edgy glint in her eyes, unlike her parallel self in the actor’s re-imagination.

Had Juno Mak chosen to imbue Rigor Mortis with heavy symbolism? Those expecting a slashing good bloodbath of a vampire movie might be disappointed, and those unfamiliar with the cultural context of Rigor Mortis might be baffled.

For me, Rigor Mortis was definitely a tribute film, heavy with resignation of the way of life that was no more. Juno Mak scored very highly in sincerity for Rigor Mortis:
· 100% authentic Hong Kong Cantonese dialogues
· Assembling a cast of actors and actresses who used to act in vampire-related movies in the 1980s. This brought back a lot of memories and cultural context, even though I watched most of those movies as re-runs on television
· Awesome emoting from the cast, especially from Anthony Chan and Paw Hee-ching. Anthony Chan’s get up of singlet and boxers with a bathrobe thrown over spoke of his taoist robe of yesteryear and it seemed as if the hawker was always ready to turn the bathrobe into a taoist robe. Paw Hee-ching was subtle as the wife who grew increasingly impatient at the slow progress her dead husband was coming to life. To want to revive her husband was bizzare enough, turning her kitchen into a bloodbath with slaughtered crows was horrifying.
· Keeping her dead husband in the bathroom and feeding him crow blood was awful. Yet the most horrifying sequence in Rigor Mortis had to be Paw Hing-ching allowing the albino boy to use her bathroom, knowing full well that her husband was in there, and that the final step to her husband’s revival was virgin blood. The pitiful cries of the albino boy as he registered the husband in the bathroom, the violent rocking of the bathroom door as the boy tried to escape the attack and the growling from the husband made a very powerful statement about the horrors a twisted mind could inflict on another innocent human. Juno Mak took time to craft this sequence for the horror to sink through with no blood shed in this sequence.
· Having been alerted by his tools-of-the trade, Anthony Chan arrived at the elderly couple’s apartment, a bloodbath with a mortally wounded Chung Fat who covered his mouth and nose as the vampire husband jumped past them out of the apartment. Not breathing to avoid being detected by vampires was popularised by the Mr Vampire series, and it actually felt very warm to see it here, although the spectre of the blood-covered bathroom with a broken toilet was graphic in a Japanese and Thai horror film kind of way.

For a debut director, Juno Mak turned in a very good piece of work. Yet, there were also parts that were puzzling or interesting to me:
· The purpose of Richard Ng’s mask of ancient Chinese coins. This was revealed by Chung Fat as having strong Yang to counter the Yin of an undead. Despite repeatedly cautioning the wife against removing the mask, the lure of seeing her dead husband twitch when the mask was removed proved too tempting for the wife. Without the mask to counter the Yin, Richard Ng had nothing to stop him eating the albino boy.
· How to create a vampire. As far as I remembered from the Mr Vampire series, vampires were created when humans were bitten by vampires, or when the dead were not buried properly, resulting in the corpse turning malevolent. In Rigor Mortis,
with Chung Fat’s guidance, the wife prepared Richard Ng’s corpse for resurrection in her bathroom.
· The darker the talisman paper, the darker the spells were. I had only seen yellow talisman papers, while a purple one was used by Chung Fat in Rigor Mortis, presumably as Chung Fat practiced dark magic.
· The very distinctive and strong Japanese horror movie stamp when the twins appeared, crawling on walls with blood trailing around them.
· Strong Thai horror movie influence on the set design.
· Why the boy was albino. Would anything have changed had the character been a normal boy?
· Which version was real? If the brighter version was real, then Chin could not have re-imagined Chung Fat the medical examiner as a practitioner of dark arts, since he did not meet him before he hung himself. If the darker version was real, then the horror of Rigor Mortis came out very well indeed. That of human minds, and not the vampire nor the twins.

8 Sep 2017



2015年に、犯罪プロファイラのPark Hae-youngは古くて壊したウォーキートーキーで不思議に2000年の探偵のLee Jae-hanと通じし始まった。Park Hae-youngはやっぱりびっくりした。しかし、Lee Jae-hanは「僕、すぐ亡った。でも、このコミュニケーションはもう一回始まりたい。その時、Hae-youngさんはぜひ僕に説きつけなさい!」

両人は1999年からのコールド・ケースを解けた。コールド・ケースの解ける時に、Lee Jae-han自分の命も変えた。本来、Lee Jae-hanは2000年に汚職警官によって射止めた。しかし、Lee Jae-hanの後輩はウォーキートーキーでLee Jae-hanと話して「すぐ話したいです。その話のために、私はいつも先輩を待ってしました。15年の待望でしたは先輩の骸骨を見ました!!」Lee Jae-hanも後輩を好きだった。そして自分の命を変わって、生き残った。Lee Jae-hanとPark Hae-youngはループものの中に通じった。大人のPark Hae-youngは忘れちゃった、子供のとき、兄のケースにLee Jae-hanを会った。


5 Aug 2017

Busting the myths of successful CEOs

Bryan Borzykowski's article for the BBC Busting the myths of successful CEOs cited a 10-year study on thousands of CEOs to determine what makes a successful leader, with the following myths busted:

Myth 1: CEOs must be charismatic
Myth 2: CEOs shouldn't admit when they are wrong
Myth 3: CEOs need to be experienced in a particular sector
Myth 4: CEOs must be autocratic
Myth 5: CEOs should have a top-tier education

Borzykowski took 'leaders' to mean 'CEOs'.  Just as there are CEOs who are dynamic visionaries, there also are CEOs who are executing the Board's direction.  Are both leaders?

Charisma is definitely important during interviews, not only for potential CEOs, but for all jobseekers.  However, charisma does not always automatically translate into performance.  Instead of merely being charismatic, a successful leader might need to have authentic empathy for the people he/she leads.  Most people can sense when they are treated with real emotions or only being emoted at superficially.

Admiting or not admiting mistakes could be social conditioning.  If a person's environment when he/she was growing up and worked in encouraged individuals to own up to their mistakes and not cruxify them for their mistakes, they would likely be more open to admiting when they are wrong.

Many vacant positions require prior experience in a particular sector, not only for CEO-hires.  While it certainly helps to have prior experience as the CEO can hit the ground running, hailing from different sectors could bring a fresh pair of eyes and opinions.  Although from a few HBR articles I read, it seems that when new CEOs come on board, whether or not they have prior experience, they would look to have their new team aligned behind them in their new strategic outlook.  

Some CEOs are/were famous or rather infamous for being autocratic, where only their way goes. While this might work well in some companies, especially big-names if employees want to burnish their resumes with stints in big-names, it may not necessarily work well for all companies.  Realistically, how long can an average person work under an autocratic boss?  As Victor Lipman declared in a Forbes article in 2016 that 'People leave managers, not companies', when a wrong person is named manager, 'nothing fixes that bad decision'.

Do CEOs need a top-tier education?  Are MBAs even mandatory?  These are questions that perhaps only Boards have to search deep within themselves to answer.

14 Jul 2017





  • 右堆:高雄美浓、旗山一带 
  • 左堆:屏东新埤鄉、佳冬鄉 
  • 前堆:屏东長治鄉、麟洛鄉、屏東市田寮、九如鄉圳寮
  • 后堆:屏东內埔鄉 
  • 中堆:屏东 竹田鄉、鹽埔鄉七份仔
  • 先锋堆:屏东萬巒鄉





12 Jul 2017

Hotel Sunshine @ Kaohsiung

While the Simple Life Hotel near the City Hall subway station was pleasant enough, I thought there weren't enough food options, or perhaps I did not explore the hotel surroundings enough.

For this trip to Kaohsiung, I picked Hotel Sunshine, more as a lark for the chinese furniture that I saw on the hotel's website.  Apparently, according to the hotel's website, the furniture was rosewood.  In addition, I did not have the chance to explore the Sanduo area, where the hotel was located, during the previous trip to Kaohsiung.

The twin bedroom was surprisingly large, with large tables and three chairs, 1 of which could be strategically placed next to the door for shoe changes.  There was a 3 litre water pot which was always thoughtfully boiled and kept warm by the cleaning staff.

 The bathroom must have been one of the biggest I have seen, with enough space to place a small sofa in!  The shower system had a hand shower, a rain shower and three sprouts in the middle section, which made showering a lot of fun, especially with that awful swealtering heat.
Buffet breakfast at the hotel's restaurant was very decent, with some traditional taiwanese dishes, japanese dishes and and egg station.  And I so love the warm and chewy 蓬萊米 that I had to round up breakfast everyday with a bowl of that!

8 Jul 2017






薇米文旅虽然只供应早餐,但其它两餐基本不是问题。薇米文旅那栋楼旁边就是屏东夜市,民族路,中山路和逢甲路一带都有吃的。要不然走远一点还有太平洋百货、Global Mall。支出肯定比在夜市吃多,但有冷气。

15 Apr 2017

花見 ~ 満開

Einer Bekannter war letze Woche in Japan zum einer Urlaub und hatte mir ein Foto des schöneste Sakura schicken.

Was für eine Bekannte.

24 Mar 2017



铁齿的林老爷一意孤行。正室,细姨与儿子迎来的却是一个自称是三姨太的年轻女子玉琴和一具三姨太称是林老爷的无头尸体。三姨太自称林老爷临终前让她成为林家的掌家, 并泡了碧观音逼吴丽卿让她入门掌家。






25 Feb 2017



因为费了好一些时间找ホテルマイステイズ福岡天神,差一点就赶不上从博多出发的Aso Boy!了。