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 PAST ISSUES
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the scene

LAFORET MUSEUM

LaForet museum opening party for “Kitty EX”

Clockwise from top left: bar owner Reiko, fashion designer Jeremy Scott, stylist Kei; party guests Tim and Chihiro; art director Nagi Noda flanked by Laforet employees Mi and Si; Helmut Lang merchandiser Keita Takada

 


star struck

In love and war

Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s latest epic takes martial arts to a new level

By Marie Iida

Andy Lau, Zhang Ziyi, Takeshi Kaneshiro and Zhang Yimou
Credit: Marie Iida

Zhang Yimou, who won zealous acclaim for his emotionally evocative work as The Road Home and Raise the Red Lantern, first surprised fans when he tried his hand at an action movie in 2003 with the hit Hero. The Chinese director has done it again, taking the standard wuxia, or martial arts movie, to a new, artistic level with House of Flying Daggers, starring Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhang Ziyi and Andy Lau.

Set in the year 859, in the waning days of the Tang Dynasty, the film centers on three lovers caught up in the tides of history. Two deputies of the dynasty Leo (Lau) and Jin (Kaneshiro) are given a mandate to capture a leader of the rebel army known as the House of Flying Daggers. They cross paths with a beautiful blind dancer named Mei (Ziyi) who is suspected of being the daughter of the army’s old leader.

“I had the most difficult time,” Kaneshiro said of the shoot during a promotional stop in Tokyo. “I had to spend a whole month just learning the difference between the weapons. I thought I would be simply taught step-by-step the action sequences, but I had to learn the basic disciplines first. Then, we would go on location and actually create each technique and shoot with the weather and time in check.”

At its heart, House of Flying Daggers is a love story. The fight scenes are not intended to showcase action but emotion. “Because I was already familiar with the basics of the action sequences, I was able to devote most of my time to my acting,” Lau explained. Ziyi spent two months with a blind girl in preparation for her part. “I did everything with her so that I could make the way she led her life a part of my lifestyle as well,” she said. “I studied the way she touched a person’s face to learn how to emulate it.”

The film’s debut at the 2004 Cannes Festival received a standing ovation that lasted for more than 20 minutes. In China, it has outperformed US movies and Yimou has high hopes for Japan. He is confident that the universal message of love will be delivered into the hearts of international audiences. “Andy Lau once asked me if his character is a good or an evil one,” he said. “But in the end it doesn’t matter if the character is evil or good. What’s expressed is the humanity of the character. The point of the film is that the characters are all human beings simply in love.”

 

 


q&a

Jane Yonamine

Her husband may be the first Asian-American to play in the NFL and the first foreigner to play baseball in Japan after WWII (joining the Yomiuri Giants in 1951), but Jane Yonamine is a legend in her own right. The Hawaii-born nisei founded the Wally Yonamine Pearl Company (janespearl.com) in Roppongi in 1964 and has since adorned celebrities from Brooke Shields to Hillary Clinton, as well as thousands of Tokyo residents and tourists. The 74-year-old mother of three and grandmother of seven now splits her time between Tokyo, Hawaii and Los Angeles. Who was your first celebrity client? It was Major League ballplayers back in ’65, ’66 who first started coming in—all of Wally’s friends, like Cal Ripken, Carl Yaztremski. Then we had the golfers like Lee Trevino. Ballplayers play golf, golfers play with movie stars...it all goes in one big circle. What’s the best part of your job? You get to see [the celebrities] on television and you see your pearls out there. That’s half the fun. That and working with the customers. Pearls are the one piece of jewelry that’s ageless. People buy them to cherish. What’s the most unusual request you’ve had from a client? We had one man who wanted 53 10mm Japanese cultured pearls that matched exactly. I collected up to 19 and then had to give him his money back. Like I say, you can’t tell the oysters what to do. What’s the one piece of jewelry should every woman own? If you have one single strand of white pearls, you can go anywhere with it. That and a pair of studs and that’s all you need. What makes you happy? I think anyone at my age should have a job, or keep a regimen. I take a month off and I’m sick half the time. So when people tell me I should retire, I ask them, “Why?”

Credit: Tama Miyake Lung

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