I was visiting my family in Phoenix, Arizona a few weeks back. Actually it’s an excuse to visit the Chinese Cultural Center in Phoenix! One doesn’t normally think of Phoenix when you think of “Chinatown” but surprisingly there is a Chinatown of sorts just blocks from Sky Harbor Airport.
There is a nice little Chinese garden with a pond and some really nice statuary. I took several pictures, of which one I’ve posted here. It’s a statue of Monkey King. I’ve been enamored of Monkey King ever since I first saw Stephen Chow’s “A Chinese Odyssey” (both parts). Stephen Chow plays Monkey King, a popular fictional character that practically every Chinese child knows. He is a mischievous and magical character usually portrayed as a kind of half man/half monkey. Stephen plays him with a touch of sadness in “A Chinese Odyssey”.
The Chinese Cultural Center also has shops and an Asian grocery store. The main shop I go to is a music and video store. The music and films they sell are mostly in Mandarin and I can usually find something unusual when I go.
This time around I found a series of VCD’s with pictures of Nick Cheung, Chow Yun Fat, Stephen Chow, and Andy Lau interspersed among the Chinese characters. Since I only read about 3 words of Chinese, when I buy things like this I’m usually taking a gamble about what I’m getting. In this case “taking a gamble” was prophetic! I paid $6.00 for a VCD about how to cheat at Mah Jong! I was thinking there might be clips from say, the”God of Gamblers” movies or “Tricky Master” since those were the movies the pictures on the case were from. No such luck! No clips, no English subtitles, just tips on how to cheat.
My friends from work, Chuck and Xin, both speak Cantonese as their native language and speak some Mandarin as well so I took it to them and we watched it. They filled me in on some of the stuff I couldn’t figure out just from watching. It was interesting, but not what I expected!
I also picked up a copy of “The Eagle Shooting Heroes” with Tony Leung (both Chiu Wai and Ka Fai), Leslie Cheung, and Maggie Cheung. I haven’t watched it yet, but a little hand-applied sticker on the spine says it has English subtitles. I paid a little more for this than the aforementioned VCD so I hope it has English subtitles!
I also picked up Andy Lau’s new CD “Miracle World”. It’s mostly Mandarin songs with a neat pad of postcards with Andy featured on them and the lyrics sheet. Again, I can’t read the lyrics sheet or understand the songs, but they are fun to listen to. One is called in English “I’m Your Superman” – it even has some English lyrics!
They also sell some Cantonese music CDs. I got a Sam Hui CD that has music featured in his movies. It contains the theme song to the “Aces Go Places” series (“Best Partners” in English) and a Cantonese version of “Rock Around the Clock”.
That’s all for now – I’ll let you know if that DVD has English subtitles or not!