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 Fly Daddy Fly By Junichi Okada, English translation
Sandra
Posted: Jul 9 2007, 02:28 AM


Official Pop Addict
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Group: Members
Posts: 3,064
Member No.: 1,564
Joined: 6-June 07



The theme song for the movie Fly Daddy Fly by Junichi is by Mr. Children and it's called Ranningu hai / Running High. You could buy it here
http://us.yesasia.com/en/PrdDept.aspx/code...pid-1003999357/


or sample it here
http://www.6621.com/Music_List/A6C426A2B.html

at track 3 ランニングハイ.
http://www.6621.com/Music/81831229A.html


Mr. Children: Running High

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

07.25.05
Artist: Mr. Children
Title: Running High
Words: Sakurai Kazutoshi
Music: Sakurai Kazutoshi

A: "Don't think you've won with your fancy logic, dickhead"
B: "I know, but what can I do? I mean, I 've got no other means."
A: "you haven't made a lick of progress despite your go get 'em spirit"
B: "Shut up! You don't understand the weight of my burden!" *1

Dodgeball with my inner self on the otherside of the court
taunt 'im, run all over, catch it, and send it right back at 'im! *2

"I'm beat, somebody help me!"
even when I send out that signal
no one's watching,
worse yet the whistle calling for a time out doesn't sound.
if that's the case I'll run till my breath fails me
spreading my disgrace all over
I'll let the irridescent garment I wear over my heart fly in the wind. *3

when frustration is just part of a day's work
I entrust my tired body to convenient love
and when the deed is done, I pretend to be asleep
what a sec, what the?? What am I doing!?
I forgot... I have no idea.
when the sun shines on me, I feel so guilty

these desires to fall into line and do as others do *4
one day I realized how unnecessary it all was,
I wonder if it's not too late, to cool off.

the Caterpillar rolls over
that house they once said was haunted
a representative of the company announces
that it'll be turned into an apartment complex by next Spring
Another piece of scenery that I grew up with
has up and turned to cash.
after only a brief pause for sentimentality,
I'm all, "Well, that's that I guess."

the age, society..
if you don't force yourself to make some enemies
you'll never know who your friends are,
you won't be able to enjoy life.

No one else was behind it
it was me, so I gave myself up
no one's listening, worse yet, there's no relief for my sins
if that's the case I'll run till my breath fails me
spreading my disgrace all over
Don't call it quits, you amateur! You can still run!
if that's the case I'll run till my breath fails me
spreading my disgrace all over
I'll show off the irridescent garment I wear over my heart

Translated By: Brian Stewart & Takako Sakuma

Translator's Notes: The Return of the Translator's Notes. That's Sakurai-san for ya!

* 1 - "Kou" & "Otsu" are used like "A" & "B" are when writing dialogue examples in Japanese. In my opinion Sakurai uses this style to differentiate between the inner and outer selves. The Inner Self is browbeating the Outer Self. Side Note: I took a lot of liberties with the dialogue to make it sound natural, please understand we're trying to keep the spirit of what's said alive at the cost of the literal meaning.

* 2 - Continuing the above image, Sakurai imagines himself palying Dodgeball against his inner self. Facing his own heart down across the court.

* 3 - This image is important because it seems like here Sakurai is saying I will expose my heart for all to see, where as later he will change his way of thinking and instead expose the costume he wears over his heart for all to see.

* 4 - The language here is from the military. "Forward March, About Face" etc.. Its placement at this part of the song makes me think of how when one gets older one starts to care less about what other people are doing. I'm not really familair with the ex<x>pression "cooling off" but I assume its not like calming down but more like losing interest etc in something.

Romaji

Kou: 'rironbusou de seme katta to omou na bakatare!'
Otsu: 'wakatteru shikata nai darou hoka ni utsu tedate nakute'
Kou: 'isei ga ii wari ni chitto mo mae ni susumenai ze'
Otsu: 'damattero! kono nimotsu no omosa shiranai kuse shite'

mukou gawa ni iru naimen to docchibo-ru
ikaku shite nigemawari uketomete hajikikaesu

'mou tsukareta dareka tasukete yo'
sonna aizu dashita tte
daremo miteinai mashite taimu wo tsugeru fue ha naranee
nara iki taeru made kaketemiyou haji wo makichirashite
mune ni matou tamamushiiro no ishou wo hatamekaseteikou

iraira shite shikata nai hi ha
tsukareta karada wo
tsugou no ii koi ni azukete
owareba neta furi shite
are, ore, nani shitendarou?
wasureta wakaranee
taiyou ga teritsukeru to yake ni ushirometakute

mae narae migi he narae no yokubou
kizukeba iran mon bakari mada ma ni au ka na ku-ringu ofu

nakigara ga deru to iu oyashiki wo
kyatapira ga fumitsubushite
raishun goro ni manshon ni kawaru to dairinin ga tsugeru
mata boku wo sodatetekureta keshiki ga akkenaku kane ni natta
sukoshi dake kanshou ni hitatta ato 'maa sore mo sou da naa'

jidai toka shakai toka
muri ni demo teki ni shitatenai to
mikata wo sagasenai, yukai ni kurasenai yo

shikunda no ha hoka no dare demo nai
ore datte jishu shita tte
daremo kiitenai mashite tsumi ga karuku nanka naranee
nara ikitaeru made kekete miyou haji wo makichirashite
ikidoki da to iu nakare shiroto! mada hashirerun da
nara ikitaeru made kekete miyou haji wo makichirashite
mune ni matou tamamushiiro no ishou wo misebirakashiteikou

Romaji By: Brian Stewart

http://www.centigrade-j.com/translations/r..._mrchildren.htm


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tommy815
Posted: Jul 9 2007, 02:40 AM


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Member No.: 1,381
Joined: 6-March 07



I love this song love2.gif
I often listen to it while driving.
It's suited for summer, don't you think so?
Ah~I want to rewatch FDF! gotta try tonight laugh.gif


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Sandra
Posted: Aug 26 2007, 06:00 PM


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I am now translating the important parts of Fly Daddy Fly over the next few days.

If anyone knows the places name and people's name, pls fill them in. I'm usually not good with names.

This is not a word to word translation. I omit parts that I'm not interested laugh.gif and sometimes, might misinterpret because it's from Chinese subs.

Opening scene

Father went to pick kid up. Itís your term end. Yes, tomorrow is the last day and thereís only one subject left. No problem at all.

Itís hard to get into a good school. You have to work hard.

She wanted to go home later the next evening. Why? To go buy things with friends. Shopping so late at night? My friend says we could go to karaoke.

Is that good?
Itís so hard to relax a bit.

Call ahead when you come home. Iíll pick you up at the station. Donít worry your mom. Thatís so good.

Then at the hospital. The father found out that the daughter was hurt. Her face and stomach received several punches. Several? Stay for a week and sheíd be fine. It wouldnít have any long time effect. Donít worry. Who did it? Who hit my daughter?

School official turns up.

My daughter is hurt. Could you give me your name card? You are not from my daughterís school. Why is she hurt?

That is probably out of jealousy?

Jealousy?

Your daughter met the male student from my school and then went to karaoke and there was a small fight.

You said my daughter got on with a guy in the street. This is not possible. I donít teach my daughter that way.

I have seen many parents who caused their daughters to deviate on such paths.

Why is she hit?

These are matters of youth.

You said itís a normal thing? My daughter is hurt and disfigured.

The student who hit her has already reflected.

That is a must.

Also why is it you who come to say these things and not his parents.

The politician so and so, you know him? Heís the future president. Do you know?

Iíve seen the news.

That boysí father is so and so.

He is very busy and so Iím been authorized to handle this matter. Pls understand to handle this matter in a low profile. For us seniors this is the best way to handle it. That is also so that your daughter would not be affected in the future. You understand. What do you decide?

I am calledÖ.very sorry.

Thatís all you are going to say?

I didnít mean it. It was just an impulsive move. Pls forgive me.

Youíre okay? Ö.

The father is not happy with the assaulterís attitudeÖ.

Junichi scene

After hitting the father, the students filled him in.

The guy who hit you is so and so (Iíll just call him Junichi). A strange name, heís a Korean in Japan.

They introduced each other.

About this guy.

Sorry there is no such guyís name in this school.

From here 200 M there is a school with a kid that name. You got the wrong school. There are many schools around here.

Have you looked at the school name clearly. That school is totally different from ours. That school is a prestigious school and this one is the shits even though we are only a few hundred meters away. We are devalued dozen times. Earlier, some reporter try to interview that kid and also got to our school.

Interview?

Itís the middle school champion in boxing. And including todayís he has 3 consecutive win. Itís not that, his father is a politician.

Come to think of it, what have you got against him. Did he do anything bad?


Ö.
Ö..

we thought you knew his father and you tried to get close to him and so you came.

We understand your feelings. That is not the way to solve it Ė to kill the kid.

The daughter is my treasure and sheís been hurt. So I have to find him for revenge.

For that even if I lose my life, I donít mind.

Then why did you bring the knife. Why donít you fight bare handed?

BecauseÖ

Compared to your daughter you are actually not appeased for being trampled on.

Because you yourself is the most important

Because I had been stepped on

Not right

What is not right?

That kid is very strong and thatís why you are afraid

Because that kidís father has power and so you only rely on such game

What do you know

Coward

Coward would not protect his most precious? BesidesÖ

Such cheapskate canít kill others
Itís fitting for cowards like you

The cold press will help you with your back

ThenÖ

What do you plan to do, Mr. Suzuki

I could charge
Now Mr. Suzuki has three choices

One is to report to the police.

Even though this is the behavior of relying on the rights of the country it is the most proper

The other way is to forget the whole thing. Pretend nothing has happened and continue living

Even though it is retreating, it has its benefits.

The last one is to fight with the kid

We would prepare the stage for your fight.

Tomorrow our summer vacation starts. We have time to do all kinds of preparation.

Of course mr Suzuki you have to take time off before the fight day.

You have to receiving training

Training

The coach is him.

That guy is very strong.

He had served in the elite team of (some military).

Itís the one next to (somewehere).

If you want to win over the kid. Your daughter will be proud of you.

You donít have to decide now. Right?

Pls consider it seriously tonight. Weíll wait for you here tomorrow.

Of course, it is up to you if you decide on other options.

Anyway, everything is up to you.

End scene 25:14

So he goes home and reminisnce about the first time his daughter Ö. And he was scaredÖ.

Next day

Iíve already told the company and took time off so thatís why Iím late.

Iíll work hard.

What are you going to work hard in?

What difference does it make if you beat the kid? To satisfy yourself?

I have to go and pick up my daughter at the hospital. I have to beat the kid and then see here.

If you could last 3 days and then Iíll let you.

What?

Mr. Suzuki, a bit surprised.

Pls stand up there.

Oh, me? Do I have to take off my shoes?

Come, lift it, lift it.

Come, say hurrah

Why?

Many reasons

87, 78, 99Öthis will do.

Every day hereafter, we shall add.

Pls work hard.

Work hard.

Then weíll leave. Good bye.

Ö.

Letís go.

Yes.

Hey, put on your shoes.

What do you think is the basic?

AhÖ

Itís to throw away the excess and keep the useful.

Uncle, you have a lot of excess on you thatís useless. So we have to do basic training.

You could just do running. Today five laps.

Understand?
Yes.

One two one tow

That,

My legs

Do you know how many cells made up a human?

60 (something)

Uncle, how many cells have you used?

You have to stay behind

Many cells that are not used are dying

If you want to give up, itís up to you. Itís for yourself, you donít have to listen to others.

Such simple encouragement would not work.

Finished.

Thank you.

Rest time is done. Go.

I might die.

Climb up.

Painful.

Thank you for today. If possible, could I buy you dinner?

I have to eat dinner at home.
Oh.

You could never leave the sight of your enemy. Havenít you watched Bruce Liís movies?

Really.

Oh, sorry.

Next time I have to watch one.

Goodbye
Then see you tomorrow.

Then we have to see if you could come or not.

Bruce liÖ.


Mr. Suzuki goes home. Wife told him to heat up his dinner.

The students talk about betting.

Next day.

Good. Start. Pretend a man is a monkey.

Very slippery.

No problem.

Again

Broken. The ligaments are broken.

Itís not broken. If it is broken Iíll send you to the hospital. Relax.

Again.

If you want to give up, thatís fine.

Uncle, you better give up and go home. Go trim your plants and you donít have to suffer.

I am not interested in that.

Students talk about betting.


Mr. Suzukiís coach pls report.

That uncle is really incomprehensible.

Wasnít it known as such in the beginning?

Uncle seems to persist till the end.

Then more or less he plans to win.

How could he win?

Where are you going?
To pee

Finally some strength

Really troublesome guy.

Then we would be serious too.

Once you start, you canít turn back.

We will proceed with the plans we made.

Which one?

Report progress.

Donít stop, more energy.

Persist and do not stop pulling.

Donít stop pulling, more energy

Ö.

Ö..

hospital visit etcÖetcÖ.

Junichiís scene

Today I teach you how to fight.

Do you want to win?

Want to win.

Come over. Come over.

Horrible?

If the vein in the neck is squeezed, in 7 seconds or so, you would suffocate.

What happens if it is over 7 seconds, do you know?

Itís you losing?

In a fight, to hold on to these 7 seconds is very difficult.

The best is not to do this moie.

Ah, butÖ.

00:58

TBC


Exclusive: Please do not repost this translation outside of this forum.


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Sandra
Posted: Aug 30 2007, 07:48 AM


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Joined: 6-June 07




You want to protect the most important thing, old man?

If you could feel the real courage, we could also win.

Do you understand?

OldÖ.do it.

Forget it. Letís start. Stand.

The tactic I am going to teach you is not to win.

Lift up your fists.

The fists position should be like this.

Watch.

Yes

I am now going to attack your stomach.

Yes.

Find a way to stop me.

Ah, if I hit you, thatís fine too?
Iíll start.

Try to hit me.

Punching is not by standing up?

So try to evade me and thatís good enough. Understand?

Yes.

This time we switch.

Stand up. Start.

Pretend I am that kid. Attack.

What are you afraid of.

Fear of death, happiness, sorrow are all the same.

It is only a kind of feeling.

If you are cowardly, you would lose your will.

Donít you want to look at what is behind the fear of death?

Come in a burst.

For this I made you climb steps to increase the strength in your legs.

Behind the fear of death, what do you see?

Pain.

And further behind?

Stand up.

Come

Go climb steps.

Yes.

Your sneakers, they are very worn out.

I wear canvas shoes.

Letís go.

Is this Mr. Taka something of a certain shop.

Earlier I have mentioned to you about the fight on September 1 with Suzuki.

Which side will you bet on winning? Have you decided?

Yes, Yes,

You will bet on the kid 3000 yen?

Aiya. Mr. customer you are still so stubborn.

If everyone bet like youÖ

How could I do business.

Yes. Thank you.

3000 yen.

Thatís bad.

1.02

tbc


Exclusive: Please do not repost this translation outside of this forum.


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Sandra
Posted: Aug 30 2007, 08:00 AM


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Group: Members
Posts: 3,064
Member No.: 1,564
Joined: 6-June 07



I have to say, up until I got this subbed copy, Junichi's character is very aloof for me and I couldn't relate to him. But up till now, the way he coaches the old guy, I could already feel him a bit more. Thank goodness for Chinese subs.


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kimurafan
Posted: Aug 30 2007, 06:00 PM


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Group: Admin
Posts: 30,840
Member No.: 1
Joined: 1-November 03



Wait

Mr. Suzuki

Please listen to our explanation.

Pls wait.

Ö.

Ö.

Iím stupid to listen to you all. Tricky. You play with otherís emotions.

What naÔve words are you saying?

For you old man, we have been running around all summer.

What are you blaming?

You should thank them nicely.

What is this?

Itís sneakers. I bought them for you especially.

I only wear canvas shoes.

What? Not satisfied?

You guys. How would you understand my feelings.

Youíre very noisy.

For training, I took time off work and even forgo a promotion.

You end it this way?

Come attack me, you foolish old man!

Your daughter is crying.

YouÖyouÖ

In my familyís blood, perhaps thereís the blood of a dragon god.

Is this going to be bead?

No problem.

This is special training.

All this time. All this time I have been working so hard.

Why do I have to be met with such incidents.

You keep thinking your own feelings are the most important.

Old many, you have been like this from the start. You want to give up, then give up.

We feel that if we have to explain everything, itís too troublesome so we decided on our own.

But we really work hard for you. This you have to believe us.

Even though he (junichi) said sao, he really has a lot of hope on you.

I also look forward to it.

My birthday is June 6.

Just in case, let me tell you.

The speed has really increased. Really not bad.

In the past when I was (in the west Ė some place) I could do this often but now I couldnít at all.

Then you have done some land exercise before?

Ah, land exerciseÖI ski.

Ah, we actually have similar interest.

Where are you from?

Where, where?

(Aichi? Or some place. Aichi)

Do you know it? Next to the station is a shop with special delicacy.

It taste really good.

Really?

What? What? (that place is my hometown)

Next time we go and eat it at the same time.
Also (some other dish)

(That food) My favorite)

Really good.

Then letís go together.

We could?

Letís go together. Letís go together.

May I ask if you would go too?

No, I donít need to.

I am from (someplace)

I didnít invite you.

97, 98, 99, persistÖ.100

16 more days to the fight day.

8/31 rest day
9/1 fight day

If your father wins, I will call you. Please look forward to it.

You try hitting

Let go

Donít stick to meÖlet me go, so troublesome.

Earlier I wanted to ask.

Your injury, was it when you were in the military service?

What nonsense are you talking about? I have never been in the military.

But they said so.

They are blind.

Then, is the true that with your bare hands you struck an earthen door down?

The scar was from then, is it true?

Of course it was a lie for you.

Actually at 10 years old I was stabbed. It was the scar from then.

What happened?

The laid off workers from the office suddenly rushed over.

They said something about them being laid off and it was the fault of overseas labor.

It didnít matter. That old man was looking for a target to stab.

I happened to be walking across my house door and the door has the word (something) on it. (I think itís a name plaque).

I just happened to come out of the door. At that moment I was really very frightened.

That mister was full of red in his eye expression. I at once hurriedly escape into my home.

But my mother saw the blood all over me, she was half scared to death. I could only call the ambulance by myself. After my injury, there was a period of time I couldnít leave the hospital. I felt the world outside was very scary.

The old man who stabbed me would chase me in my dreams bearing hot blooded eyes.

I wanted a hero would appear, thinking that he would take me out of the hospital.

Just like a fool.

Those type of good things wouldnít happen.

And your father?

He divorced with my mother three years before the stabbing and left home.

Even though I wanted that he would at least come and see me.

After I left the hospital and out in the world, in order not to be stabbed again, I decided to become strong. I would never lose to anyone again. I told myself, I have to win.

Itís a bit tiring.

The more I fight, the more the important thing in my heart would seep away.

If I hve a pair of wings, I could fly anywhere.

From above the sky coming down, the world would look very peaceful. It must be.

And not only enemies exist.

Hurry and be strong, to protect myself.

Ah right.

What are you laughing at?

Letís go.

Mr. Suzuki.

Todayís training has ended.

Thank youÖ..

Even though I couldnít say this is to reward you for your hardwork

But today, we have a present for you.

Really. A split second.

He would suddenly come into my room (karaoke room)

I say, play with me.

Donít be like that. Let go.


Come sing.

No, let me go.

Come sing.

Donít want to.

Blood.

Save me, father.

Save me father.
Donít dream. Could he save you?

Iím, really scared.
I didnít know what to do.

I couldnít contact you
Iím really sorry.

You donít have to apologize

Itís for you

If possible
Please in future pls get along well with my daughter

This one, after I washed it Iíll return it.

Return it to my daughter and itís be fine.
Yes.

Then letís see her to the station.
Thank you

Today you accompany me
Really thank you.

No need to be so polite
My goosebumps are coming

That is that guyís angry habit.

But how did you know about this friend.

This Iíll tell you later
We have our own intelligence

Besides, tomorrow is rest day.
Pls rest well and prepare for the fight of the day after.

I also want to give everyone a small present.

For you
Thank you


For you
Thank you Mr. Suzuki

For you
We are no longer of the age who come to amusement park

Iíll wait for you all down here

You couldnít be really scared
Not at all

Mr. Suzuki, hurry

Behind the fear, donít you want to see?

My daughter said that the first time.
I still remember.

After one year old birthday, she called, ďmamaĒ

Because she didnít call ďpapaĒ, I was not very satisfied.

But still I feel very happy and hurriedly went to buy DV to record it.

Even if I didnít hear from (this friend) yesterday, I would understand.

My daughter is not that type of girl who would flirt with guys.

I know they are talking nonsense, butÖ

When I saw her at the hospital, I was very scared. I didnít know what to do. I didnít want to be hurt myself and so I didnít care much for her. I knew that if she were not by my side smiling at me, my life would have no meaning. No matter what happens to that kid, even if the world is enemy to her, the person who would unconditionally protect her would only be me.

Summer vacation has been fun.
Eh? Summer.

Didnít you play with us?
Letís play well

Didnít we go on roller coaster
Really did

And also super exciting.

I have never enjoyed roller coaster.
Why?

I was hit by Junichi too much
The feeling has changed.

Perhaps.

Dance of height
Mongolianís special dance.

Junichi and his spirit. Basically itís an original dance.

The true winner will aim at flying through the sky, seeking unlimited freedom.

This is his frequent words.

That way, it disposes of the weight, donít you feel that one day he would really fly?

Never possible. Canít be done.
So called based on knowledge come this theory

Really feel could soar high

Good

Guest, pls sit down.

Ganbatte

Continue racing this way

This is the match the match

Goal

Congratulations

Iím home

Youíre home.

When the daughter spoke, 1998 August, 1 year 1 month

You are more solid than when we first met

I and the daughter would wait for you.

I would definitely go collect you two.

To find freedom, to find the eternal victory
Change into ashes

3000 diamonds would not be as pretty.

Very ancient poem. Who wrote it.

What? You havenít read it before
ďAshes and DiamondĒ a popular poem.

What movie is it?
War action movie

The first time I met with my wife
I especially went to a good theater to watch

My wife was so moved that she cried beside me

That movie
Did the actor win in the end?

He didnít win.

That type of movie Iím not interested.

Everyone, hereís the good news.

On August 1, the high school champion..(so and so) got 3 consecutive wins. His win is through everyday hard work and individual respect.

Everyone, as plannedÖ.

Go to hell

This student really know the basic spirit at our school, bring us glory.

Who are you guys.
What are you doing here?

What is happening.

We are disturbing the ceremony to do a match.

Teachers may not move.

To shake a school up is very simple.

What do we do with the students?

Everyone, pay attention. No problem.

In order not to cause any chaos, the best way is to be our accomplice.

Mr. Suzuki really doesnít look spirited.

Everyone here is betting on the student to win.

Then , what about you guys?

If Mr. Suzuki loses, we would all go rob a bank.

Please win!

But if we win, we plan to go to Okinawa.

Before the end of summer, everyday, we will pass it facing the big sea leisurely

Because summer hasnít ended yet.

Then itís almost time.

We have prepared you the coolest stage and the most appropriate chance

Ganbatte

Mr. Suzuki. Iím looking forward to it.

You have to become hero
Because we and you are together.

Letís go

Thank you

Iím tired of hearing you being so long winded

Almost time

If in an instant
You could feel the true courage

Even if you donít fight, itís fine

When you could not even trust yourself
You would be filled with fear in here.

I would let you old man advantage and I wonít move.

Old man, inside you there is a transparent dragon tiger spirit

Thereís nothing inside that kid.

No matter what happens, you have to believe yourself.

I believe you.

Could I win, Junichi?

Now we start. A match with no time limit.

The red team is mean as usual.
Ö.
The blue team is the man who couldnít forgive the studentís behavior.

Our hero, SukukiÖ

Ah, what joke is this?

To win is simple.
The question is what is behind victory?

Old man, who are you?

You are the person at the hospital?

I think of your useless mouth and face.

Your daughter is fine? Say hello to her for me.

You think you could beat me?

Ö.
Ö.

(I think a poem was recited.)

Is this how you hit my daughter?

Go to hell.

You want to protect the most important thing.

Old man

Donít come near my daughter again
Do you understand

Win, win

Mother, he won
Father won, itís too good.

Thanks to you

I am going to pick up my daughter

I will use these hands that beated the kid to hug my daughter tightly

And to bring her back to the beautiful world.

Thatís too exciting.

Fly old man

Fly!

The end.


Exclusive: Please do not repost this translation outside of this forum.

The last part is definitely touching, Mr. Suzuki's speech about being the only person in the world to protect his daughter.


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Sandra
Posted: Nov 6 2007, 11:27 AM


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Whao, there is a possiblity that Fly Daddy Fly will be made into a Hollywood movie. This article was exploring the remakes of Korean movies and this movie was named. I am surprised that Hollywood may be drawing the remake from the Korean version and not the Japanese version. The Koreans are aggressive marketers indeed!


ASIAN POP
Saving cinema's Seoul
By Jeff Yang, Special to SF Gate


Wednesday, October 24, 2007


The resurgence of the Korean film industry has had Tinseltown moguls licking their chops for the past decade. Jeff Yang explores how Korea's biggest media conglomerate, CJ Entertainment, is connecting with ó and investing in ó Hollywood's power players, with an eye toward going global.

HONOLULU ó Studio exec Ted Kim is in Hawaii. Not on vacation, though his wife and three kids have come from Los Angeles for the weekend, catching a few spare hours of daddy-time before Kim's job bounces him back around the continent or across the ocean. No, Kim is in Honolulu for business, making the rounds at an event that, for his purposes, is at least as important as Sundance or Tribeca: the Hawaii International Film Festival.

That's because Kim heads up the budding American division of CJ Entertainment ó a company that, despite its blanket anonymity here in the States, is one of the most potent forces in Asia's rapidly shifting entertainment landscape. As Korea's largest integrated media conglomerate, CJ is a powerhouse in areas ranging from distribution and theatrical exhibition to production, new media, and cable broadcast. And with Korea's domestic film market rapidly reaching maturity, CJ is looking to opportunities abroad to keep its growth engine roaring.

And thus, Hawaii ó the most Asian of American states, whose demographic and geographical positioning makes it an ideal testbed for transplanted, transcultural media.

"This is where the crossovers begin," says Kim. "The whole phenomenon of Korean content being consumed by non-Korean people here in the U.S.; this is where it started. Put it this way: On local cable here, KBFD, the Korean-language TV station, is Channel 4 ó between Fox and NBC. You don't see that in any other market, not even L.A. It's a very cool development."

Given Hawaii's unique status, it's not surprising that CJ has a healthy representation at HIFF: It has no fewer than five works among the event's two-dozen-or-so strong feature lineup, making it by far the most prominent studio on the festival's schedule. In fact, perceptive viewers might recognize the array of films CJ is deploying at the event as a set of celluloid tea leaves that together offer a glimpse into the company's future, and that of the Korean film industry as a whole.

"The Korean film industry is now at a really critical stage," says Kim. "It may be early to say that we're at a 'make or break' moment, but we're getting pretty close. The run-up over this past decade has been amazing, but there's going to be a shakeup pretty soon ó something's going to happen. Something has to happen."

Our house, our rules

One of the truly startling things about the rise of the Korean film industry is the suddenness with which the industry emerged as a global cinematic force. Up until 1988, Korean cinema was publicly subsidized and largely government controlled; filmmakers were constrained by political censorship (when they weren't being coerced to produce works of outright propaganda), and this creative manipulation understandably depressed consumer appetite for domestic film product. By the early '90s, locally produced films made up just 16 percent of the Korean film market, with the vast majority of box office going toward Hollywood product instead.

But 1992 marked the first early milestone in a shift that would transform Korean cinema. That was the year that the diversified megacorp Samsung underwrote Kim Ui-seok's romantic comedy "Marriage Story," the first Korean film to be funded without government money. It proved to be a monster hit, generating the third highest box office ever for a Korean film, and prompting speculation among Korea's other leading conglomerates (what Koreans call the "chaebols") that locally produced entertainment might well be a potential new source of profit.

Those thoughts were underscored the following year, when Im Kwon-taek, the grand master of Korean cinema, released his lushly nostalgic "Sopyonje." Despite its esoteric narrative (it follows a trio of wandering p'ansori performers as they travel the land seeking to perfect their interpretation of that ur-traditional Korean musical art), "Sopyonje" became the first Korean film to sell over a million tickets ó all at one venue, Seoul's Danseong Theater, where it screened for over 196 uninterrupted days.

Blood was in the water, and a frenzy of investment was unleashed. The chaebols launched movie divisions nearly in unison, and swarmed to fund new projects by journeyman local directors like Jang Sun-woo, Park Kwang-soo, and Lee Myung-Se ó the so-called "Korean New Wave." ("I think it's hilarious that these filmmakers were instantly dubbed the 'New Wave,'" laughs Kim. "Korean film had essentially just been invented. What was the 'Old Wave' ó Im Kwon-taek? That's pretty much it.")

While the film bug was running epidemic among the chaebols, none made as big or as splashy a move as the company then known as Cheil Jedang. A large and somewhat boring food combine spun off from the Samsung mothership in 1994 when that chaebol decided to focus on technology, its leadership had been turned over to a pair of enterprising siblings ó Samsung founder Byung-chul Lee's grandkids, Jay and Miky Lee.

Just months after being handed the reins, the duo decided to steer Cheil Jedang toward a brave new course, by placing a mammoth bet on an ambitious startup being launched by a trio of notable silver screen titans, Steven Spielberg, Jeffrey Katzenberg, and David Geffen. DreamWorks SKG was Hollywood's first new full-service studio in a generation, and thus offered both unique opportunity and considerable risk. But the Lees didn't flinch: Laying down $300 million, an almost inconceivable sum for a pair of untried thirtysomethings, they turned the newly formed CJ Entertainment into DreamWorks' second largest outside investor.

The investment got them entree into a world to which Korean cinema had never had access, and which sister Miky in particular had always adored ó the glittery parallel dimension known as Hollywood. But it wasn't Tinseltown's flash and glamour that appealed to Miky, but rather its craft and sophistication, its proven ability to create truly globe-spanning works of art and commerce. A cinephile since her youth, Miky longed to share that passion with her countrymen. To her, the real prize in the DreamWorks deal was exclusive rights to distribute the studio's works in Asia, providing a creative pipeline to fuel her dream ó the launch of Korea's first chain of modern, high-end multiplex cinemas. "Our investment in DreamWorks isn't a destination," she confidently explained to the New York Times in 1996. "It's the departing point."

Though the financial community slammed the DreamWorks deal at its outset, in hindsight it proved to be a game-changer. 1997's financial meltdown forced Samsung and most of the major chaebols to sell off or shut down their entertainment divisions, but CJ's massive investment and long-term obligations would have forced them to stay the course even if Miky weren't a true believer in her cause.

Meanwhile, the collapse of the chaebols' film operations inadvertently led to projects being put in the hands of young (and cheap) filmmakers, most of whom had skipped or cut short the lengthy, mandatory apprenticeship that preceded directorship in the traditional "Chungmuro" system (named for "Korean Hollywood," the Seoul neighborhood where the offices of studios and production companies cluster like mushrooms). And because the moneymen of the chaebols were focused on far bigger problems, this generation of novice directors got the opportunity to make their first movies, unattended and mostly unfettered, just so long as their budgets stayed low enough to fly beneath the corporate radar.

"They pretty much got to do whatever they wanted to," says CJ's Kim. "There were no rules about structure ó none of this Syd Field three-act stuff. Tonally, subject-matter-wise, they were able to go wild. They were given complete freedom to just make great movies."

The result was a creative efflorescence, as an unruly set of artists whose sensibilities were shaped by Western genre flicks rather than Korea's tradition of formalist melodrama got their hands on the tools and resources to craft strikingly original ó and commercial ó films; movies like Kang Je-gyu's "Shiri," a leather-taut spy thriller that set a new box office record in 1999, selling over 2 million tickets and surpassing even Hollywood blockbusters like "Titanic" and "The Matrix."

Other breakouts quickly followed: The chilling slasher flick "Tell Me Something," the addictively perky romantic comedy "My Sassy Girl," and Park Chan-wook's military thriller "Joint Security Area." Soon more and more of CJ's multiplex screens turned from showing the likes of "Gladiator" and "Shrek" to showing this fresh wave of domestically produced cinema ó and audiences were lining up to watch. By 2001, over half of Korea's domestic box office was being generated by locally produced works. By 2005, the percentage had risen to nearly two-thirds, and some local films had surpassed $50 million gross. By 2006, films like "The Host" and "The King and the Clown" were flirting with the magical number of $100 million ó the universal breakpoint for blockbuster status.

Remarkably, Korea had evolved into a market that could not only support its own indigenous cinema, but defend it against Hollywood incursion. A testament to this can be seen in the fact that three of the industry's top 10 all-time biggest box office hits are "Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War" (2004), "Silmido" (2003) and "Welcome to Dongmakgol" (2005) ó works so rooted in Korea's unique historical and social circumstances that they could never have been conceived of by Hollywood, nor would they have much crossover potential in other markets.

"A lot of these works were made out of passion," says Kim. "The filmmakers had no other way to say what they wanted to say. They couldn't have even made these films 10, 20 years ago" ó stories about the Korean War, about the partition of a people, about the corruption and injustice that followed in its wake. And Koreans have responded to the telling of these powerfully personal stories with packed houses.

At this year's HIFF, CJ is offering the U.S. premiere of Kim Ji-hoon's "May 18," a film dramatization of the events of 1980's 10-day Kwangju Uprising, the popular movement against the military dictatorship of Chun Doo-hwan that was brutally crushed by the regime, leading to the deaths of hundreds, perhaps thousands of citizens. Though few people outside of the nation have heard of the Kwangju massacre, it was a critical moment in Korean history that ultimately led to the return of the nation to civilian rule. As novelist Hwang Sok-yong has said, ""The Kwangju Uprising lit the fuse of the dynamite stick of democracy."

"May 18" has earned some $50 million at the Korean box office, and is 2007's second-highest-grossing local film. "These films, being made by directors who 20 or 30 years ago actually went through these tough times, they're a unique part of what makes up our national cinema," says Kim. "I mean, just the fact that you can even say 'Korean cinema' now with a straight face is amazing, but it's absolutely incredible that a convergence of factors have created an environment where stories like this can finally be told."

Hallyu like me now

But if one dimension of the rise of Korean cinema has been the commercial validation of intensely "Korean" Korean films, the story that the rest of the world knows is that of the globalization of Korean popular culture ó "Hallyu," the so-called Korean Wave. Since the late '90s, Korea has emerged as the reigning pop engine of greater East Asia, with films like "My Sassy Girl," musicians like Rain, and especially, TV melodramas like "Winter Sonata" captivating hundreds of millions in Japan, China, and Southeast Asia.

In Japan, the popularity of Hallyu has led to a sharp spike in travel to Korea (with some statistics showing a rise of 30 percent per year since 2003) and the successful launch of services like Rakuen Korea, a matchmaking firm that offers to set Tokyo women up with their Seoul mates; In China, Korean series take up more airtime on government TV channels than all other imported programming combined, and even President Hu Jintao has admitted to being a fan of the ultrapopular K-drama "Jewel in the Palace." In Vietnam, Korean shows have become so prevalent that at one point the government threatened a ban or quota system unless Korean broadcasters corrected the "imbalance" by airing Vietnamese shows as well.

"Somewhere along the line, Korean content became exportable throughout Asia," says Kim. "You had a situation where Hong Kong and Japan's content markets were in decline, and Korea kind of stepped in to fill that void."

Like other Korean content creators, CJ has benefited from the burgeoning of Hallyu; CJ-distributed films like "Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance," "My Tutor Friend," and "My Boss, My Hero" have done well across Asia. But Kim notes that CJ has long been concerned about the long-term sustainability of Hallyu ó and signs have already emerged that the phenomenon is plateauing, if not fading away. "The Host," a clever 2006 monster flick that rose to become the No. 1 highest-grossing film in Korean history, did relatively poorly elsewhere in East Asia. And even the K-drama phenomenon has flagged somewhat, as no other series has caught fire with international fans the way "Winter Sonata" and "Jewel in the Palace" did.

"Look, if Korea were completely identified by (pop star) Rain, ("Winter Sonata" dreamboat) Bae Yong-jun, and ("The Host" director) Bong Jun-ho ó if they were the only name brands out there, we'd just have to hope their planes don't go down," says CJ's Kim. "That's a terrifying proposition if we're in it for the long term. You can't build a business around that. We've been spending our time trying to build systems, not just stars."

A big part of that effort has been leveraging CJ's stockpile of intellectual property through remakes and adaptations ó taking small stories and amplifying them for global consumption with bigger budgets and stellar casts. While past remakes have provoked controversy, primarily because of concerns about questionable casting ("The Lake House," anyone?) and drastically altered story lines, CJ's establishment of its American office has given it a means to exert greater control over the course of development.

"Past remakes have been the result of producers just selling off rights to American studios," says Kim. "We're doing something different. We're actually producing ó we're going out there, taking stories, and packaging stars and directors around them, ensuring that there's some integrity. We have 'My Sassy Girl,' starring Elisha Cuthbert; that'll go out sometime next year. We're doing 'A Bittersweet Life' with Fox Atomic. We're currently packaging 'A Dirty Carnival' ó I can't talk about who's involved with that, but we're really excited. And you'll be reading soon about the remake of 'Sympathy for Lady Vengeance,' which I'm really excited about ó it's a passion piece for me, so we've been really patient about getting the right people in the right places."

Though a few of these films, like "Sassy Girl" and "Lady Vengeance," were breakout hits in Asia, the gang-noir flicks "Bittersweet Life" and "Dirty Carnival" were middling commercial successes at best ó but garnered critical acclaim for their tight plotting and wickedly sophisticated narratives. The right remake offers these stories a new lease on life, before an expanded, global audience; two of the films that CJ has brought to Hawaii, the identity-swap thriller "Soo" (a young gangster goes undercover as his dead twin, a cop, in order to try to find his brother's murderer) and the high-school fight comedy "Fly Daddy Fly" (a father takes boxing lessons from a high school thug to avenge his daughter's humiliation) offer similar ripe-for-adaptation conceits.

"Our goal ultimately is to be known as more than just purveyors of Korean entertainment," says Kim. "We aim to be a world-class entertainment company. We have local businesses in China, Thailand, Vietnam ó we're investing in productions in those territories, and we're continuing to look at other markets to step into. Hollywood is just one part of the strategy that we're developing. Our overall aim is to establish an interconnection, an ongoing conversation, between Korea and the other film markets of the world."

Crossing cultures

One of the interesting rationales behind CJ's decision to package, rather than raffle off, its remake rights has been a conscious effort to incorporate Asian American talent wherever possible. Several of the key players in its ongoing development projects, including writers and directors, are drawn from the rising ranks of young, independent Korean American creators.

"We really feel like there's a terrific resource here, and that we need to nurture that resource," says Kim. "It's not just a matter of doing a socially responsible thing as a company ó it's part of our strategy. We think it's important for people in Asia to know that Asian Americans are a big deal. We're committed to establishing a talent and information flow, a dialogue, between the U.S. and Asia."

An emblem of that commitment can be seen in CJ's production of Michael Kang's "West 32nd," also screening at HIFF this year. The company staked a reported $3 million on an original script from a young and mostly unknown director, despite knowing the challenging economics of independent cinema. "We know what the numbers look like for indie film, and there isn't a business model in the world that can make those numbers financially rational," says Kim. "But funding a movie like 'West 32nd' allows us to support and nurture Asian American talent ó so we can legitimately have a discussion around where our Spike Lee, our Tyler Perry is going to come from. If we're going to succeed long-term, we need to have those guys."

Kim's dedication to the development of Asian American filmmakers is deep-rooted. Growing up in Seattle and going to college at UC Berkeley, he originally dreamed of being a writer ó "but my dad told me I was crazy and that I had to do something else," he laughs. Despite heading off to law school at the University of Arizona, he maintained connections to the creative community, and soon found himself reviewing contracts and negotiating deals for friends who were emerging as artists and multimedia developers. This eventually led him to become executive producer on a film called "Yellow," directed by Chris Chan Lee ó a movie that proved to be a seminal one for Asian American cinema.

"It was such an important thing to me personally to be part of something that was helping to create a definition of Asian Americana, so to speak," says Kim. "'Yellow' showed how Asian American pop culture could be woven into the fabric of mainstream pop culture. Historically, there hasn't been a vibrant marketplace for our product, but Chris's film demonstrated that the talent is there ó the ideas are there. When I was a lawyer, I had clients who were African American filmmakers, writers, and directors, and they'd complain to me, 'It's ridiculous that there are only eight African American films per year.' And I'd just look at them and say, 'Eight films? That's a dream. We Asian Americans are lucky if we get two!'"

Making a market

In a sense, the conundrum facing CJ boils down to a chicken and egg scenario. For the company to be successful long-term, it needs to find a way to translate its talent and content into forms that mainstream consumers ó in the United States and internationally ó can embrace. But for them to get that opportunity, they need to put stakes down in the mainstream. Part of their strategy lies in empowering Asian American creators, in the hope that this talent can eventually serve as a bridge into the bigger media market; they're also seeking to establish connections with Asian American consumers, breaking ground on their first CJ-branded multiplex in Los Angeles' Koreatown and seeking out other viable locations for theaters.

But CJ is investigating other ways of establishing a mainstream beachhead as well. The closing film of the Hawaii International Film Festival is a movie called "August Rush," a midbudget drama from Warner Bros. about a boy who uses his inborn musical talents to seek out the parents ó both musicians ó who were forced to give him up at birth. It stars Robin Williams, Keri Russell, and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, as well as child phenom Freddie Highmore ("Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"); early buzz on the film taps it as an irresistible holiday sleeper. CJ is one of the major financing partners on the film.

"The movie business in the U.S. is changing," says Kim. "At one point, studios like Disney used to make 40-something films a year. Last year, they made eight. You're seeing this sharp contraction, where studios are focusing on the upper end of the movie business ó the franchise films, which used to be budgeted at $100 million and are now $150 million. And then on the low end, they're going for cheap genre stuff, horror films, action films, that are pegged at under $20 million. You don't see them playing in that big middle space ó and that's created opportunities for companies like Summit ("Babel," "Michael Clayton") and the Weinstein Co. to step in, to operate in the middle."

"August Rush" is CJ's first investment in a Hollywood production, and, like its bet on "West 32nd," it's a key learning experience for the company; can it find a way to play a role in the emerging opportunity of midmarket cinema, and can it perhaps use a foothold in the middle to "graduate" talented Asian and Asian American artists from low-budget indie fare into a bigger arena and a brighter spotlight?

"I like to think that the difference in how films are made in Asia versus the U.S. is actually an advantage for us, not a liability," says Kim. "In Korea, directors are given the resources they need to make the films they want to make, and their fingerprints are all over the finished product. And we think we can translate that experience to the U.S., if we can find the right opportunities, and bring our infrastructure in where needed. Think of what a great young Asian American director could do if they didn't have to worry about their next film ó if they could just focus on the movie in front of them."

The tea leaves have started to cluster, and the picture they're forming is ... interesting. In Korea in the late '90s, CJ benefited from being the only enterprise available to take a chance on a generation of fresh, untested talent. Now, a decade later and with growth in the Korean domestic market tapering off, CJ seems ready to double down on that bet ó positioning itself as the platform of choice for a new cohort of young guns, Asian and American by birth and culture, and capable, perhaps, of bringing the company success at a global level.

"That's ultimately where we want to be," says Kim. "We aren't going away, and we have absolutely the support we need from a corporate standpoint to do this. And yes, we need to be shrewd and disciplined, but we have a large appetite for growth and success."

Jeff Yang forecasts new Asian and Asian American consumer trends for the market research company Iconoculture (www.iconoculture.com). He is the author of "Once Upon a Time in China: A Guide to the Cinemas of Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China" (Atria Books) and co-author of "I Am Jackie Chan: My Life in Action" (Ballantine) and "Eastern Standard Time" (Mariner/Houghton Mifflin). He lives in New York City. Go to www.ouatic.com/mojomail/mojo.pl to join Jeff Yang's biweekly mailing list offering updates on this column and alerts about other breaking Asian and Asian American pop culture news.



http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?.../10/24/apop.DTL


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