HONG KONG – Hong Kong action thriller "Bodyguards and Assassins" scooped several top honors at the Asian Film Awards in Hong Kong on Monday, but was eclipsed for best picture by the South Korean movie "Mother."
Wang Xueqi won the best actor award for his role in the box office hit which had garnered a total of 19 nominations going into the Asian Film Awards, whose red-carpet glamour and glitzy awards ceremony are modeled on the Oscars to recognize Asia's diverse and at times under-appreciated cinematic gems.
Hong Kong heartthrob Nicholas Tse took away the best supporting actor statuette for his performance as a rickshaw man in "Bodyguards and Assassins" -- based on the life of Chinese revolutionary and the founder of modern China, Dr. Sun Yat Sen.
The all-star cast also stars Donnie Yen and Tony Leung.
Set in early 20th century Hong Kong, the action thriller tells the tale of a group of Chinese martial arts experts charged with protecting Sun, who is pursued by assassins sent by the last Qing dynasty regime he ultimately succeeds in overthrowing.
South Korea's "Mother," a thriller recognized for official selection at the Cannes film festival last year, garnered best picture and the best actress award for Kim Hye-ja.
Respected Chinese director Zhang Yimou, who choreographed the stunning opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics last year, was given the Asian film award for outstanding contribution to Asian cinema.
"A director by himself cannot alone make a film, but needs a team to work with," he told reporters backstage, while praising the next generation of Chinese and Asian directors.
"They exist in an even more open environment with more access to information like the Internet ... their horizons should be much wider than us (older directors)," he said.
Chinese director Lu Chuan won best director for "Nanjing Nanjing", or "City of Life and Death", set during the brutal Japanese occupation of the eastern Chinese city.
Indian Bollywood legend Amitabh Bachchan was awarded a lifetime achievement award for his contribution to Indian cinema.