Taiwanese actor Jay Chou holds up his award for Best Film for 'Initial D' during the 25th Hong Kong Film Award Presentation Ceremony in Hong Kong on Saturday, April 8, 2006. [AP]
Taiwanese pop idol Jay Chou was named best new performer and China's "Ke Ke Xi Li" won the top Asian movie honors Saturday at the 25th Hong Kong Film Awards _ one of the most prestigious events for the Chinese-language movie industry.
Chou, famous for his soulful ballads, said his success for his role as a street car racer in "Initial D" won't cause him to walk away from his singing career.
"I'll still focus on music. This is what I'm best at," Chou said as he accepted his award.
He also won the best newcomer prize for the same film last year at Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards _ the Chinese-language equivalent of the Oscars.
"Initial D," based on a Japanese comic book series, was filmed in Japan and directed by Hong Kongers Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, who were also behind the 2002 blockbuster crime thriller "Infernal Affairs."
Chou plays the shy son of a tofu shop owner who was once a skilled car racer. The son inherits his father's driving talent and becomes a legend on the street car racing scene.
The best Asian film, "Ke Ke Xi Li," is about volunteers protecting the Tibetan antelope from ruthless poachers in remote western China. The movie, directed by Lu Chuan, won the best film award in 2004 at the Golden Horse Awards.
Other nominees Saturday for best Asian film were Japan's "Howl's Moving Castle," Taiwan's "Three Times," South Korea's "Sympathy for Lady Vengeance" and Japan's "Be With You."
The best new director award on Saturday went to Kenneth Bi for "Rice Rhapsody" about dueling chefs.
The best new performer, director and Asian film prizes were among the first announced, and the bigger awards _ including best film, actor and actress _ were to be handed out at the end of the ceremony late Saturday night.
Veteran director Tsui Hark hoped to win best film for his "Seven Swords," a story about seven martial arts fighters defending a village.
Action mega star Jackie Chan's "The Myth" was also nominated. It's about a reincarnated ancient general who pursues his lost love from a previous life.
The other nominees included the Broadway-style musical "Perhaps Love" and director Johnnie To's "Election," about a power struggle within the shadowy world of Hong Kong's mobsters, or triads.
In the best actress category, Hong Kong diva Sammi Cheng hoped to win for her performance in "Everlasting Regret." She plays a beautiful Shanghai woman who endures a turbulent love life amid the political upheaval of modern China.
Another favorite to win best actress was mainland Chinese performer Zhou Xun, who played a movie star caught between her present and past loves in "Perhaps Love."
Hong Kong pop star Karen Mok was also nominated for her portrayal of a mother in "Wait 'Til You're Older," and Taiwan's Sylvia Chang hopes to be recognized for her role as a cook in "Rice Rhapsody."
Hong Kong heart throb Andy Lau was up for the best actor award for his performance in "Wait 'Til You're Older." He played an unhappy child who is transformed into an adult with the help of a magical potion.
His competition includes Hong Kongers Tony Leung Ka-fai and Simon Yam, who portrayed rival gangsters in "Election." Leung was also nominated for "Everlasting Regret," in which he plays a man with a crush on a lifelong friend.
The best director nominees include Tsui for "Seven Swords." He's competing against "Election" director To and Peter Chan, who directed "Perhaps Love."