Some of Asian cinema's biggest names are to gather in Taiwan on Saturday for the Golden Horse Film Awards, considered the Chinese-language "Oscars."
Acclaimed Taiwanese director Ang Lee, Hong Kong film maker John Woo and Bond girl Michelle Yoeh are among the celebrities due to attend the gala ceremony. Hong Kong director Peter Chan Ho-Sun, whose 19th century war epic "The Warlords" received 12 nominations, is also expected to walk the red carpet with his actress wife Sandra Ng.
But two of the film's leading men -- Hong Konger Andy Lau and Japan's Takeshi Kaneshiro -- will be absent amid controversies over their nominations.
Taiwan-born Kaneshiro has been disqualified from a special category recognizing local talent, while Lau reportedly won't show up after being overlooked for his critically acclaimed performance.
Jet Li, of China, nominated for best actor for his role in the film, is also understood not to be attending.
Critics say "The Warlords" is neck-and-neck with Taiwan's hit romance "Cape No. 7" -- directed by Taiwanese Wei Te-Sheng -- for best film at the 45th ceremony in the central city of Taichung.
Other nominees include Chinese civil war drama "The Assembly," erotic love story "Ocean Flame" and a coming-of-age tale "Orz Boyz."
"Cape No. 7," which tells of the modern-day romance between an aspiring Taiwanese singer and a Japanese publicist in Taiwan, has received nine nominations.
Taiwan's fastest-selling movie has become embroiled in controversy after its release in mainland China was blocked over its Japanese themes, prompting an appeal from President Ma Ying-jeou.
Chan and Wei will vie for best director with Taiwan's Sylvia Chang ("Run Papa Run") and Hong Konger Pang Ho-Cheung ("Trivial Matters").
In the acting categories, kung fu star Li is tipped for best actor for his portrayal of a general who turns against his sworn brother in "The Warlords."
Chinese actors Zhang Hanyu ("The Assembly") and Liao Fan ("Ocean Flame") as well as Hong Kong's Louis Koo ("Run Papa Run") are also vying for the prize.
"Ocean Flame," which depicts the stormy relationship between a young woman and a man who forced her into prostitution, could be this year's dark horse, critics say.
The film has earned five nominations, including best actress for Chinese starlet Monica Mok, who is up against Karena Lam ("Claustrophobia"), Prudence Liew ("True Women for Sale") and Taiwanese-French newcomer Sandrine Pinna ("Miao Miao").
Critics have noted a strong showing by Taiwanese filmmakers in this year's awards, which have long been dominated by Hong Kong and mainland Chinese productions.
Besides "Cape No. 7," "Orz Boyz," "Winds of September" and "Parking" have enjoyed box office success and critical acclaim.
The Golden Horse Awards are styled on the US Academy Awards but are decided by a jury along the lines of the Cannes film festival.
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