Poagao's Journal

Absolutely Not Your Monkey

Jun 13 2001

It is extremely bright, clear and windy outside to…

It is extremely bright, clear and windy outside today. The light of the sun feels concentrated somehow, as though Taipei was the object of some giant child’s magnifying-glass ambitions. A good photography day, if it holds up. The mountains that surround the city are all clearly visible. I wish I had brought my camera with me so I could go up on the roof later on and take some pictures. If my motorcycle weren’t being fixed, I would love to just take off into the mountains, up where nobody lives, just lush green grass, old, moss-covered trees, babbling brooks and fresh blue sky.

My motorcycle, it turns out, might need an overhaul. Luckily, it wouldn’t cost too much. The repairman downstairs told me that there is a guy who lives nearby that might want to sell his Yamaha FZ, which is pretty much the only kind of bike I would be interested in buying that is produced in Taiwan. Either that or a new Honda NSR, but I really don’t want another 2-stroke; they’re too loud and they smoke too much. Taiwan is phasing them out anyway. If I had my ‘druthers, I’d get a four-stroke sport/touring bike within the 400-600cc range, small enough for the city but easy to take on trips around the island as well. But since Taiwan isn’t going to be allowed into the WTO, I doubt I’ll get the chance to legally purchase one of those. I could get a grey-market one now, but I would be risking fines and possible confiscation if the police caught me. That is if they weren’t too busy out confiscating PCs from college dorms or making sure teenagers can’t enter Internet cafes or some other equally challenging and dangerous work.

Since I took the MRT to work today, I wore my fedora. I figure I won’t get much chance to wear it outside during the summer, and it protects me head from the air-conditioning, while at the same time eliciting whistling of the Indiana Jones theme by some of my would-be imaginative co-workers.

I was wondering earlier if the rabid promotion of English by popular ‘culture’ in Taiwan has a downside. It seems to me that, included in this massive campaign to make Taiwan more ‘international’ is somewhat of a smear campaign against everything Taiwanese. It is as if people are expected to know this foreign tongue because their own is inferior, and if they don’t adopt Western ways, they are inferior. One of the biggest differences between Taiwan and mainland China, I have found, is that mainland Chinese are much more likely to have confidence in themselves, whereas Taiwanese, whether due to a lack of political/national identity to the relentless campaign by US culture that the US is the be-all end-all of existance on this planet, tend to be ashamed of not being Westerners, of not being Japanese or American or French, but Taiwanese. Taiwanese people use English as a bat to beat into other people the impression that they are superior. Only foreign fashions are acceptable. It is almost black-and-white in its severity, but ultimately also a campaign doomed to failure, for it only involves very superficial aspects of life and only serves to make people doubt their worth as Taiwanese, without providing anything to replace it except a feeling of vague inadequacy. Oddly enough, the effects of this campaign seem to be somewhat mitigated (or even made more acceptable?) by the perception of a wide gap between Chinese and foreigners, that foreigners are ok to imitate but at the same time so fundamentally different that they are almost a seperate species.

Am I talking about society in general here, or am I really just talking about myself? It very well could be that I see my own lack of identity reflected in Taiwanese society.

Some days I just think too damn much.

I saw Run Lola Run and Black Mask yesterday. I liked the way Lola was filmed…but the story, while interesting, rather petered out towards the ending, which didn’t feel deserved, if you know what I mean. There was a lack of progression and cause-and-effect which, while obviously part of the director’s plan, added up to a lack of empathy in the fates of the characters. It seemed to point out the lack of sense in life, that nothing happens for a reason, so why should we care? A bit of a waste of good characters and cinematography.

The guy that played Manni was cute, though, I have to admit.

Black Mask was a movie I had wanted to see for a long time, since I like Jet Li. It was good, yet it felt like a movie that had been done very well, finished, and then slashed to keep the time down. This might have been the result of a bad DVD transfer, however. There is a sequel, which I would like to see as well. The move was dubbed in Mandarin, so I didn’t need subtitles, but I would like to see it in the original Cantonese, even though I would need subtitles to keep up. I imagine that Jet Li’s voice is still dubbed over in the Cantonese version, since I don’t think he speaks Cantonese. His voice in real life is suprisingly high and sounds like that of a young boy. Not suitable for a lot of the characters he has played, I suppose, but at least they used his real voice in Lethal Weapon 4.

One of the actors in Black Mask was Ching Wan Lau. I really like this guy. His eyes are really cool; he looks a bit like a Panda Bear and is seen a lot in Hong Kong films.

One thing I didn’t like too much was the relationship between Tsui and Tracy, played by Karen Mok. Karen Mok in this film is a good approximation of my bouncy friend Kenjin, in that she is so excessively cute that she is constantly on the edge of being really, really annoying. I know Jet Li is a good actor, but you could almost see him flinch inwardly at her performance. I can definitely see why Mindcrime is so enamoured of this film, though, not just for Karen Mok, but for the other, evil chick as well.

In short, it wasn’t my favorite Jet Li film of all time, but it was definitely worth a tip o’ the fedora.

posted by Poagao at 6:46 am  

No Comments »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment