HONG KONG - Director Tsui Hark's new costume drama, former Bond girl Michelle Yeoh's latest kung fu thriller and Donnie Yen's second biopic of Bruce Lee's kung fu master were the top nominees in the Hong Kong Film Awards shortlist announced on Tuesday.
Tsui's "Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame" was nominated in 13 categories. The Hong Kong filmmaker's latest picture was also nominated for the top Golden Lion Award at the Venice Film Festival last year.
"Reign of Assassins," which stars Yeoh as a killer who uses plastic surgery to escape her past, is up for 11 awards. Yen's portrayal of a famed Hong Kong martial arts teacher, "Ip Man 2," had 10 nominations.
The three pictures are contending for best movie honours against the kung fu comedy "Gallants" and the Dante Lam police thriller "The Stool Pigeon."
Lam, Tsui and "Ip Man 2" director Wilson Yip are vying for the best director trophy against Taiwanese filmmaker Su Chao-pin, who made "Reign of Assassins," and Derek Kwok and Clement Cheng, the two-man team behind "Gallants."
Hong Kong veteran Chow Yun-fat is among the best actor nominees, shortlisted for his role as the ancient Chinese sage Confucius in last year's biopic. He is competing against Chinese pop legend Jacky Cheung, who played a shopkeeper who dodges matchmaking attempts in the romantic comedy "Crossing Hennessy," and Tony Leung Ka-fai, who starred as the father in "Bruce Lee, My Brother," a biopic that focuses on the late kung fu icon's youth.
"The Stool Pigeon" was double-nominated in the category, with both Nick Cheung and Nicholas Tse in the running for their roles as a police inspector and an informant.
The best actress competition pits Chinese actress Tang Wei against Hong Kongers Carina Lau, Miriam Yeung, Fiona Sit and Josie Ho. Tang played Jacky Cheung's love interest in "Crossing Hennessy" — her first role since being catapulted to fame by her starring role in Oscar-winning director Ang Lee's 2007 World War II-era spy thriller "Lust, Caution."
Lau played a Chinese empress in "Detective Dee," a murder mystery that features the real-life Tang Dynasty detective, Di Renjie. Yeung portrayed a cosmetics saleswoman who has a romance with a fellow smoker in "Love in a Puff." Sit starred alongside Jackie Chan's son, Jaycee, in the romance "Break Up Club," while Ho, the daughter of Macau casino tycoon Stanley Ho, played a serial killer upset by Hong Kong's expensive real-estate prices in "Dream Home."
The winners will be announced in an awards ceremony on April 17.
Along with Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards, the Hong Kong Film Awards ceremony is one of the Chinese-language industry's top events, closely watched because this southern Chinese territory remains a leading hub for film talent despite the rapid growth of the mainland industry.