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Korean western tops nominations at Asian Film Awards

A South Korean western, John Woo's recent historical epic and a Japanese animation master's latest movie will be the main contenders at the third Asian Film Awards.

A South Korean western, John Woo's recent historical epic and a Japanese animation master's latest movie will be the main contenders at the third Asian Film Awards.

"The Good, the Bad, the Weird," about a bounty hunter, a bandit and a train robber who vie for a treasure map in 1930s Japanese-occupied Manchuria, is the front-runner, according to the list of nominees released Wednesday.

The Korean action movie bagged eight nominations in 13 categories, including best film and best director for Kim Jee-woon. Song Kang-ho, who won best actor at the 2007 awards, was nominated in that category again. Song's co-stars, Jung Woo-sung and Lee Byung-hun, were both nominated for best supporting actor.

Also competing for best picture are: Chen Kaige's profile of the late Chinese opera performer Mei Lanfang, "Forever Enthralled;" famed Japanese animator Hayao Miyazaki's "Ponyo on the Cliff;" Woo's Chinese historical epic "Red Cliff;" the Japan-Netherlands-Hong Kong drama "Tokyo Sonata;" and Indonesia's "The Rainbow Troops."

The winners will be chosen by a panel chaired by former Bond girl Michelle Yeoh and announced at a ceremony in Hong Kong on March 23.

Woo and Miyazaki were also nominated for best director. The other nominees are China's Feng Xiaogang for the romance "If You Are the One," Japan's Hirokazu Koreeda for "Still Walking" and Brillante Mendoza for the Philippine movie "Service."

In the best actor category, Song is competing against China's Ge You, Bollywood star Akshay Kumar, South Korea's Ha Jung-woo and Japanese actors Kenichi Matsuyama ("Detroit Metal City") and Masahiro Motoki.

Kumar was nominated for "Singh is Kinng," a comedy about an Indian villager who travels to Australia to persuade a fellow villager-turned-gangster to return. Ha was named for the action thriller "The Chaser," about a serial killer on the run.

Motoki won a nod for "Departures," a drama about a cellist-turned-undertaker.

Zhao Wei, Zhou Xun and Jiang Wenli - all from China - are in the running for best actress, along with Japan's Eri Fukatsu and Sayuri Yoshinaga and India's Deepika Padukone.

Zhao starred in the ghost thriller "Painted Skin," Zhou played a taxi driver searching for her missing boyfriend in "The Equation of Love and Death" and Padukone appeared in the recently released Bollywood film "Chandni Chowk to China," about an Indian cook who travels to China.

 
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