I’ve been to 敦煌 and I’ve always known it as 月牙泉, a crescent moon shaped spring in the middle of the Gobi Desert. Anyway, this song is extremely difficult to sing because of the wide vocal range that is required to deliver it.

Taiwanese singer A-Lin is known for her low voice, something that usually doesn’t sit well with modern listeners. But that’s why she’s perfectly comfortable with the opening part which is very low. When she enters the chorus, the listener unfamiliar with her may be surprised that she had no trouble hitting the high notes as well. Truly versatile.

Below is also a “cover” version by the original band. What do I mean by that? Well, FIR changed their lead vocal. The new singer here is Han Rui. Personally, I feel that she has better technique than the original singer Fei Er but she lacks emotion.

Below is a comparison video alternating between the new singer Han Rui (Lydia) and the previous singer Fei Er (Faye) Which version do you prefer?.

Now, back to A-Lin. Below is a collection of songs by A-Lin – one of the most underrated Chinese singers IMO.

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Movie 双旗镇刀客

When I was young, my parents often brought me to cinemas to watch movies made in China. I found them highly “educational” – a departure from the usual HK and Taiwan comedies and romances. China probably made its best movies in the 1990s during the early days of reforms and one movie that left a very lasting impression was this movie – 双旗镇刀客 made in 1991. The main characters were still teenagers, but they put up an admirable performance.

The setting would have been surreal for anyone who has not been to the northern reaches of Gansu Province. The plot is very simple, with no twists and turns, but I must admit that I sat glued to my TV screen back then. The main character, 小辫子 was an innocent kid like 张无忌 in 倚天屠龙记. Like 张无忌, he also had consummate skills. The best part of the movie is that it brings out so many human factors and emotions which are so prevalent in Chinese society. People tend to size others up before deciding whether to have anything to do with them. Some folks promise a lot more than they can deliver. They can wine and dine with you, but they can’t fight alongside you.

It also tells something about the 见死不救 mentality, abundantly exemplified by social media videos before censorship filters only allow “positive energy” to pass through. The reluctance of the people in town to take ownership of the butcher’s family’s problems, having no qualms about sacrificing them to save their own lives is the complete opposite of the Saving Private Ryan mentality. Wouldn’t we expect the entire village to team up against the bandits? No, they fear and yield in the face of the powerful bullies – just like in real life. Closer to home, do we understand what kampung spirit really means? Let’s not use the term so often if we don’t.

I have a pretty good memory, but interestingly, watching this movie again after 20 years, I’ve completely forgotten about the 沙里飞 character. I guess it’s in my avoid the flashy and superficial folks out there.


Apolitical Chinese movies like 双旗镇刀客 are very rare these days. This movie is a gem. Below are the recent photos of the two main characters, 高一玮 (currently 49) as 小辫子 and 赵玛娜 (currently 44) as his 小媳妇儿。Gao Yi Wei is a Manchu and Zhao Ma Na is a Hui.

赵玛娜个人资料、剧照写真- [超级卡司]

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Movie Review 色戒

120 Tang Wei ideas | tang, actresses, chinese actress
Tang Wei 汤唯

色戒 is a 2007 movie by Taiwanese director Li An, starring Tony Leung and Tang Wei. The story is most engaging and we can see some amazing acting from a very talented newcomer. The video below is an excellent review that covers the complex emotional transformation of an innocent female spy sent to kill a Chinese agent working for the Japanese, only to end up falling in love with him, betraying the organisation that is really just using her. Director Li An had taken almost forever to search for someone to play the female lead, almost settling for Zhang Ziyi whom he thought was huge compromise. Incredibly, newcomer Tang Wei got the part and she turned out to be an excellent choice. Ni Kuang, Chua Lam and the late Jin Yong all agreed that she was absolutely adorable.

For her sterling performance, Tang Wei won the Golden Horse Award for Best New Performer and was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award.

Despite the rave reviews, Tang Wei and the film 色戒 were banned in China in when it was first shown in 2007. The reason – “obscenity”. As the excellent review above tells us, the 3 contrasting styles and attitudes in the sex scenes are crucial in demonstrating how the emotions of the two main characters are transformed from suspicion and hatred to trust and affection. The movie is officially translated as Lust & Caution, but while the word 戒 actually means abstinence, it also means ring and the part that the ring played in this movie is also very significant. It symbolises the affections that the character has for the man she is supposed to kill. A more appropriate title would be Lust & The Ring.

Of course, there could be another reason for banning the movie. Tang Wei’s character was a Chinese patriot who fell in love with a traitor and went against the anti-Japanese organisation. This might have been seen as something unhealthy or politically incorrect. One thing which puzzled many members of the public was neither Tony Leung nor Li An were banned. Was it only a warning to young actors not to take similar roles in movies with similar storylines?

Interestingly, Li An was expecting an unpleasant reaction from the mainland authorities and took Tang Wei under his wing as his goddaughter. Sponsored by Li An, Tang Wei took the opportunity to further her studies in the UK during that hiatus, returning to the screen in Hong Kong in 2010. Below is an excellent MV created from a contemporary drama also starring Tang Wei.

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