M’sia busy ushering in Asian starlets

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Norika Fujiwara, Jessica Hsuan praise the country, cast and production


JUST after posting pictures of their surprise encounter with Ella Chen, a member of popular Taiwanese female band SHE — who was in her husband’s home town in Melaka during Chinese New Year — fans zoomed their cameras in on Japanese “sex goddess” Norika Fujiwara. “She is so gorgeous and tall!” said social media posts quoted by Chinese-language media.

Noting Melaka’s status as a world heritage site, Fujiwara summarised her overall trip to Malaysia to the media, saying: “Malaysians are very welcoming and the country is so vibrant!”

When asked about local delicacies she enjoyed, Fujiwara said she relished gulping down curry noodles and sipping freshly squeezed juices in the warm weather.

Fujiwara, 43, was in town to promote Japan TBS Television’s reality travelogue Find the Wasabi! — Norika’s Hunters, jointly produced by Malaysia’s Primeworks Studios, Singapore’s MediaCorp and Thailand’s GMM Channel.

The show features Asian celebrities — home-grown actor-singer Adrian Tan, Singapore’s Jeffery Xu and Thailand’s Golf Pichaya — on a special mission to solve the mysteries of Japan by living together in a shared house in downtown Tokyo.

Crowned Miss Japan 1992, Fujiwara married comedian Tomonori Jinnai in 2007 and is now divorced. She is remembered by local fans for her many Japanese dramas like 1997’s Love Generation, as well as 2000’s Hong Kong action flick China Strike Force, co-starring Aaron Kwok, Wang Leehom and Ruby Lin.

Why did Hsuan agree to take part  in the M’sia project?

Hong Kong actress Jessica Hester Hsuan, or Suen Huen, was also in Malaysia around the time Fujiwara was.

Hsuan, a familiar face to TVB audiences in the country, was in town for her first engagement in a Malaysian film — The Kid from the Big Apple — directed by Jess Teong.  

“I just wanted to work with Tommy Tam! This is a rare chance to work with such a veteran and I double confirmed Tam would play my father before saying ‘yes’ to the production!” Hsuan told local media.

In addition to Tam (aka Ti Lung), a well-known Hong Kong kung fu star in the 1980s, Hsuan said she agreed to the cameo role in the family drama because she was given much room to portray the character — a New York-based fashion designer who has a 10-year-old daughter.

“This team has done a very good job in pre-production preparations, and director Teong is very good at communicating with us. I just focused on playing my part and left the rest to Teong,” Hsuan said.

The Hong Kong actress felt so much rapport with the Malaysian team that after wrapping up the shooting in three days, she decided to extend one more day for a get-together meal with the crew.

“I didn’t feel like leaving!” she wrote on her Weibo.

Hsuan, 44, has been keeping a low profile in Hong Kong after appearing in 2012 popular TVB drama Tiger Cubs. She has since spent most of her time filming in China.

The shooting of The Kid from the Big Apple has wrapped up and the production company is planning for a simultaneous release in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Taiwan at a later date.

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 13, 2015.