Taiwan: Golden Horse film awards

Taiwan's entertainment industry geared up Sunday for the annual Golden Horse Awards the Chinese-speaking world's equivalent to the Oscars with films from Taiwan and Hong Kong battling for top honors.

The awards are to be presented at a gala ceremony in the northern port city of Keelung Sunday night, and online punters are putting their money on the Hong Kong gangster film "Election," and "Three Times," a Taiwanese romance, to come out on top.

The films' cachet is underscored by their success in combining art house sensibility with commercial appeal.

"Election" is a tightly written crime thriller about a feud between two gangsters who both aspire to lead the gang.

Spooky Chinese gang rituals add to the intrigue. A brilliant ensemble cast offers a colorful assortment of characters. Director Johnny To skillfully juxtaposes the theme of honor with ruthless and cunning power plays.

"Three Times" is a sensual examination of three love affairs in three different eras. Actress Shu Qi shows her versatility, playing a sweet pool hall hostess indulging in puppy love, a restrained courtesan, and a hedonistic rock singer who cheats on her female lover with a male photographer.

Another strong contender for best picture is Feng Xiaogang's "A World Without Thieves," starring Hong Kong star Andy Lau. It's about thieves who vie for a country boy's cash on a train traveling through China's frontier.

Shu's performance in "Three Times" makes her a heavy favorite for best actress. Hong Kong singer Miriam Yeung is also a candidate for her portrayal of a beer promoter who falls for her business partner in "Drink, Drank, Drunk."

But Taiwanese actress Michelle Krusiec could surprise with her performance as a Chinese-American lesbian who juggles the demands of her girlfriend and widowed mother in the Will Smith-co-produced "Saving Face."

The American-reared Krusiec is all the more impressive because the tomboy nature of her character is completely at odds with her glamorous female personna, reported AP. P.T.

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