Good 'Karma' takes acting, script

HONG KONG — The 10th Hong Kong Film Critics’ Society award has gone to police thriller “Infernal Affairs II.” But crix panned the 2003 selection pool as disappointing.

“There were no very outstanding films” in 2003, per society member Li Cheuk-to, who’s also general manager of the Hong Kong Intl. Film Festival. “Last year there was ‘Infernal Affairs’ and the year before ‘Shaolin Soccer.’ This year no films stood out like that.”

“We are now in a crisis really,” said Woody Tsung, chief exec of the Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Assn. “The problem with piracy has caused investors to become conservative in their investment. Film funding has been a major headache for the past number of years.”

Ninety pics were produced in Hong Kong — down from 300 about 10 years ago — and the society considered more than 50 of them.

Johnnie To took the helming prize for his work on police drama “PTU.”

The To-helmed “Running on Karma” garnered a screenplay win for writers Wai Ka-fai, Yau Nai-Hoi, Au Kin-Yi and Yip Tin-Sing.

“Karma’s” Andy Lau (who wore a 60-pound muscle suit in the pic) won the actor award, snapping a seven-year streak in which Lau Ching-Wan, Francis Ng or Anthony Wong won the title. Cecilia Cheung took home the actress nod for her perf in the action drama.

The society is expecting a more impressive 2004, thanks to the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA), which has opened up the China market to Hong Kong film companies. “The overall output of films will be bigger, so there will be a larger chance for better films,” Li said.

The date for the awards ceremony has yet to be set, but is expected to be in March or April.

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