Comparative glance at Hong Kong war-era films
A nightclub taxi driver carries on listlessly, a teacher is thrown out of work, and a jobless draftsman is reduced – to everyone’s unconcealed shock and dismay – to selling his blood: Such characters are portrayed conceptually yet deftly, in an affectionately embracing tone and not without genuine humor.
The 1953 film “In the Face of Demolition” is representative of realist Hong Kong cinema of the period that reflects themes of solidarity among the urban poor. The story is set mostly in an apartment building inhabited by people desperately clutching onto the lower rungs of the middle class. The film suggests these individuals’ problems are inevitable in light of the social climate and the greed of ruthless landlords.
For Koreans, Cantonese cinema may call to mind martial arts heroes, and interestingly, the abovementioned film by Li Tie actually sees a teenaged Bruce Lee as a newspaper boy.
Cinema is a window into a certain time and place, and Asian films made in the wake of tumultuous modern historical events – namely Japanese imperialism in the early 20th century – provide a telling glimpse of a shared experience