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John Woo casts Song Hye Gyo in big-budget period romance

Score!

Song Hye Gyo made a surprise appearance at Cannes Film Festival on the 20th in conjunction with the announcement that she will be appearing in 1949, director John Woo‘s next film, he of the stylish Hong Kong and Hollywood action blockbusters (Mission Impossible II, Face/Off, Broken Arrow).

Not only that, the screenplay was written by Wang Hui-ling of the much-lauded Lust, Caution and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Song co-stars with Chinese actor Chang Chen, and startled reporters at the press conference for 1949, where she appeared alongside Woo and producer Terrence Chang. (Apparently Song arrived at Cannes on the 17th, but remained hidden in her hotel room until her appearance on the 20th at Woo’s request. Woo had made no mention of Song’s participation in the film until she arrived at the press conference.)

She explained, “John Woo contacted me [in January] after watching Hwang Jini. I’m incredibly honored to be working with a director I admire so much.” (According to a Korean article — so take with a grain of salt, naturally — owing to Song’s popularity in China from her dramas Autumn in My Heart and Full House, the Chinese press in attendance focused their attention and aimed more questions at her than her co-star Chang Chen.)

(Here’s Chang Chen looking modern.)

1949 is described as a “big-budget romance” based on real-life events that took place at the end of World War II and in the last years of the Chinese Civil War.

As for the language issue, the film will be Chinese-language, mixed with English; Song Hye Gyo is currently studying both. She also assures us that 1949 won’t interfere with her participation in director Pyo Min Su’s upcoming drama co-starring Hyun Bin, The World They Live In, as the drama starts in July and will end this year, while 1949 will start filming at the end of the year and aims to release sometime in 2009.

I know I’ve been skeptical of Song Hye Gyo as well as crossover acting roles in general, and John Woo’s had some misses recently, but this one sounds really promising.

Via Star News

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I didn't think Song Hye Gyo was very good in Hwang Jin Yi, so I'm surprised that John Woo apparently said that that was the reason why he decided to cast her. And she can't speak English or Chinese so it's rather strange.

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uh wow.. she's gonna speak in chinese AND english? even jang dong gun sounded funny when he tried chinese, so i'm not too sure about how shg's going to pull this one off :/

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Well, it's not like he's going to say he casted her because she's "beautiful", lol.

That's a very pretty picture of her.

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I wish she would just speak korean.

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She is playing someone Chinese, right? So odd they chose her for the role but it's a huge project for her that's for sure. And Chang Chen is a brilliant actor, who happens to have chemistry with everyone he works with.

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Very nice but she's going to be speaking chinese and english. Eh I dont know, anyway I still bet it going to be good.

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i feel the same way as illdielaughing.. i wasn't especially moved by her performance in hwang jini & at one point got so bored with the movie i turned it off.. but she is quite lovely despite the fantastic plastic & this is a great opportunity for her.. it's phenomenal to me how many korean actors are getting work in hollywood now.. hopefully she'll be able to show more of her acting chops in this film..

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I loved Chang Chen in Three Times. Amber is right -- he is a wonderful, wonderful actor.

Song Hye Kyo mentioned in her Hong Kong interview earlier this year that she was studying Mandarian intently to directly enter the Chinese market. So she must have been speaking about this project. She's already the face of Laneige, which essentially makes you (like Ji Hyun and even Lee Na Young) a "face of Korea" to China.

@Marcel,

I'd imagine this would do for her what Myth did for Kim Hee Sun (though Song Hye Kyo is already popular in China.) I'd love to see Hye Kyo in a proper Chinese historical drama a la Chae Rim or Jang Nara. And it moderates commercial expectations for The World They Live In. Even if that series doesn't do well, a huge performance from that movie would make her the leading hallyu actress.

I'd love to see Hye Kyo and Kaneshiro do a film together just for the eye candy value. My "Beautiful People" scale would shut down if that happened!

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It would have made more sense if they had chosen Jang Nara over Song as she speaks fluent Mandarin.

Also, why would they pick a korean actress for a chinese role? It's not as if they don't have enough talented chinese actresses. But then again, they did pick chinese actresses instead of japanese ones in Memoirs of a Geisha.

Maybe it's to cash in on the hallyu craze. Is this a picture of things to come? "Cross pollinated" movies?

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Good for her! This sounds like a good opportunity for her...Chang Chen seems to be good in choosing his movie roles thus far, so if he is also in this project along with screenplay by Lust, Caution's Wang...that makes the project sound more promising. John Woo is trying a different genre...I'm not too sure about him in a romance though.

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Er...I see a tough road ahead for HyeGyo. o_O
I hope she doesn't butcher Mandarin. >.>;
Anywho, I think I'll pass on the movie, hate war time films. :p

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@ginnie,

John Woo's a born romantic. Most of his pistol ballets use melodrama histrionics, and his filmmaking idioms (slow-mo shots, doves, anti-gravity choreography) seem derived from big romantic pictures.

@Di,

That's okay. Lots of HK actresses butcher Mandarin anyway ;)

Assuming SHK's not playing a Korean-Chinese character, her lines will probably be overdubbed. That's a common practice, and the domestic audience is impartial about it.

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Marcel- She's not plastic. She is lovely and natural at that. Learn more about SHK. ^_~
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I didn't like Hwang Jinyi either. But it wasnt because of SHK. The movie was just boring.

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A lot of mixed reaction regarding this movie. I love Song Hye Kyo but I don't like war movies, they make me depressed and the scenes are always gruesome. I know a lot of people does not like Hwang Jini but for a director prespective its different and challeging for an artist.

It's a good thing that the drama the World We Live In will still continue.

I wish Song Hye Kyo success in her edeavors and I will always be her fan.

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Slightly OT:

John Woo's new film Red Cliff, his first proper full-length feature since that GawdAwfulBenAffleck film, is coming out in July. That one is also starring Chang Chen as well as Tony Leung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, and Vicki Zhao. This one is serious business: $80 million budget (or 1/3 of Bae Yong Joon's paycheck) and John Woo's first proper Asian film in more than 15 years.

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ooh. I'm definitely going to be watching this. I Love Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and that action choreographer is awesome!

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Holy mackeral. She's gorgeous.

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Yeah, I think I'll definitely see this movie too because I love John woo and Chang Chen and the screenwriter. It's not that I don't like Song Hye Gyo it's just that I really don't think that Hwang Jin Yi was a good role for her. She was dull and didn't bring anything to the role. Her acting and the movie were BOTH boring.

John Woo is not an idiot though (excluding the "GawdAwfulBenAffleck film") so I think he knows what he's doing.

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I have doubts about her acting ability because it looks like an intense movie . She's great at comic roles but not so sure about this serious stuff yet the photos do show some side of her that seems to resognate that she has potential.

The movie looks like an intellectual and artistic movie but like someone said, I'm also not a big fan of epic war movies because they're so depressing with all the violence and gore.

Though I do hope she shows great promise in this film. Aja...aja fighting!

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@ belleza,

i caught just a glimpse of chae rim in a chinese historical drama.. she looked perfect as her character & in the setting.. song hye kyo has very classic beauty so she would look gorgeous.. she & takeshi kaneshiro would make definitely make an eye-blinding couple.. i think my beautiful people scale has permanently malfunctioned ever since seeing clips of joe odagiri & ko shibasaki in la maison de himiko ;)

@ bit,

there's definitely been much speculation on the subject.. you'll see if you hop on over to popseoul.. can't say that i'm proud to have participated in that comment war.. but let's just say the photos did their job of feeding the fire & sparking theories..

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Chang Chen is one of my favorite actors and John Woo has directed some great flicks in the past (am looking forward to Battle of Red Cliff - for the story, Tony Leung and Takeshi - it's a dream come true to have Takeshi play the genius strategist Zhu Ge Liang!) . That said, I'm not too sure about Song Hye Ko's prospects in this new chinese movie. Her acting is so-so, though I can see the commercial reasons for casting her in this movie with Chang Chen. Asthetically speaking, SHK is better suited for the tv screen as she's rather petite and doesn't look good on the silver screen. I'd rather see a talented chinese actress in this period war movie as it is probably going to be dialogue heavy, and I just hate dubbed acting, even if it's a HK actor's cantonese lines dubbed into mandarin.

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@belleza and marcel:

My beautiful people scale went off the charts when Joe Odagiri and Nakama Yukie starred in Shinobi. Kim Di Duk's new film will have Joe Odagiri and Lee Na Young together...ooh lala! I'd give an arm and leg (no, not really) to see Takeshi Kaneshiro act with Kou Shibasaki. :)

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@Felicity and Marcel,

Oh my Galileo I'd get a mastectomy to see Kaneshiro and Shibasaki )in anything together. And if it's directed by Wong Kar Wai , Belleza will gladly add chemo for free. (No, not really. If it's Hou Hsou Hsien, then we'll talk.)

Yeah, Odagiri + Na Young is like the Johnny Depp/Winona Ryder of K-J mashups. Quirky recognizes quirky! I like bicultural combinations -- when Kimura Takuya was romancing Faye Wong in 2046, I just about died. Or Edison Chen and Ivy . . .

Red Cliff is something I'd watch anyway since it's part of the Three Kingdoms canon (and HELLO Tony Leung is in it!) Hye Kyo is kind of Zhao Wei territory for me. I have fond memories of the work that made them, and so there's a lot of happy associations with them. Kinda like when you see old Michael Jackson footage and sigh at those beautiful days when he wasn't an albino Diana Ross.

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@marcel

Are you referring to all her childhood and school pictures floating around? I've taken a close look at those and come to believe she's definitely natural. Other than that I've seen videos of her being interviewed in middle school and that completely convinced me.

Edited to add:

I don't see popseoul as a reliable source of information. That blog is solely dedicated to bashing kcelebs. It's no surprise to me they would try to bring Song Hye Kyo into question. They're looking at her older pictures but not looking at her childhood pictures that pre-date the pictures in question! Why?

Here are even younger pictures of her and I don't see a change. Same pointy noise pouty lips. And no I don't believe she's had lipo on her cheeks just lost weight. -_-;

[URL=http://i101.imagethrust.com/images/3M45/view-image/songbb.html][IMG]http://i101.imagethrust.com/t/899749/songbb.jpg[/IMG][/URL]

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Are people disputing Song Hye Gyo's "natural" status? She's always been a well-known un-plastic star. Sounds like people are just stirring stuff up.

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javabeans can you unmark my comment as spam? Thank you... ^_^

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@javabeans,

Marcel was talking about a recent Popseoul "superthread" (bigger than Mad Cow, smaller than Se7engate) (And yes, Marcel I definitely saw you there have your go at Miss Natural Beauty hee hee . . .)

I don't feel one way or the other about it. Ever since Autumn Tale, Hye Kyo as an actress impressed me as essentially the reverse Eun Chan -- a scrappy, athletic tomboy who happened to look like, well, Song Hye Kyo. If she did have surgery, if she did not, her struggle as an actress is more than being a pretty face, it is in her fundamental inability to leverage her beauty into an accessible femininity that connects with the audience. Her Hwang Jini shows the right approach -- cold, bullish, empty. But it had none of the charm and subtle emotional/sexual manipulation that Ha Ji Won has made into a career. She still seems insensible, if not resentful, at playing beautiful.

Now, Han Ji Hye finally getting double eyelid surgery. That broke my heart! :( :( :(

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@ bit & belleza,

yup.. it was like fighting in the nuclear 3rd world war on that thread.. popseoul almost caused a virtual armageddon over the issue of plastic surgery..

for me it's just something about most kcelebs i see onscreen & not just song hye kyo.. i have seen her childhood & school pics & wouldn't deny her natural born beauty.. she's always had handsome features.. but i just noticed recently in some of her close-ups she looks like she now has the telltale nose, lip & cheek implants as well as enhanced double-eyelids.. it's very subtle but even in the above pic you can see how all of her features look a little tooo perfect O_o

at the end of the day.. i understand she's an actress & she's gotta do what she's gotta do to survive in the industry.. & i'll appreciate her more for her acting ability than anything else.. but being able to notice the changes in a k-actor's facial features tells me i've been consuming way too much k-entertainment for my own good O_O

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@ felicity,

joe odagiri & lee na young together would be heaven meeting the earth.. have to say they're probably the two most naturally beautiful people i've ever laid eyes on..

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@marcel

I don't think it's a stretch to have perfect features naturally it maybe rare but not impossible. I don't think that in of itself is proof of anything. So far the evidence does not lead me to believe she's had anything done. It looks to me her features aren't a recent development and she's had them since she was a child. So I don't see what you're seeing. There could be a simple explanation...that she is just very very pretty.

Could it be that you're seeing changes because you want to see them? Anyone can take 2 dissmiliar photos and point out differences...but does that prove surgery?

I know alot of kcelebs have surgery but I hope you will keep an open mind and judge people on a case by case basis and really look at the evidence. That's what I will continue doing.

http://i110.imagethrust.com/images/3MkA/view-image/songpics.html

In the end I guess Song Hye Kyo's great beauty maybe her greatest liability. :/

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@ bit,

before i call it a day from arguing this ridiculous issue once and for all.. it seems to me that people just don't notice & would rather believe the ideal.. which is lucky for her..

i just see what i see.. of course she is extremely pretty.. but my point is that those features appear artificial now..

i'm feeling a bit miffed at the suggestion that i'm closed-minded & seeing things because i "want" to.. so i say let the blind continue leading the blind..

http://youtube.com/watch?v=AbBFaRWWlIQ

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@marcel, has it occurred to you that what you are so sure is artificial can strike someone else as natural? i mean, just because you're convinced she's plastic doesn't mean she is. the certainty you feel can be felt by someone else for the opposite reason.

and i don't think you should be miffed at other people disagreeing with you when you're calling them "blind" and insinuating they're dumb for not noticing. you're doing the same thing you accuse others of doing to you.

btw, i don't know if she's plastic or not and i don't care, but people's insistence on knowing for sure either way is silly.

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sorry javabeans :( i promise this is the last comment.. i'm just not one to back down in an argument.. or take a virtual beating without at least atttempting to defend myself...

@ cj,

1. you've stated the obvious & reiterated the opposite of my entire point.. that arriving at an empirical fact isn't a matter of subjective impression but rather objective observation.. i never said that song hye kyo is plastic bc i said so.. but rather the other way around..

2. contrary to your own charge, i'm not so much mifffed by bit for disagreeing with me, as much as merely put-off for implying i'm seeing things because i want to.. he/she is the one who said as much (you can read it above).. which precisely sparked my comment in return..

3. i actually wouldn't want to imply that people are just plain dumb with my little quote.. you can take it as simply meaning they aren't seeing what's in front of them.. nothing more..

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The girl is a real looker alright, no argument on that. But her acting is just ok, sometimes even considered "dead". I'm not really into watching any of her movies/dramas purely because of her acting.

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