Movie Talk: A nostalgic look at Hong Kong flicks
Having just came back from Hong Kong, which is my very first trip to the country, I find it surprising that Hong Kong is a scenic place with many sightseeing destinations waiting to be discovered. But more importantly, the Avenue of Stars (a popular tourist destination) does not speak as well about its entertainment industry as the statue of Bruce Lee located right in the middle of it.
Let’s dispense with Bruce Lee’s background since most of us will probably have already heard of him or watched his film (considering his legendary status in the Hong Kong entertainment industry) but instead, let’ look at how Hong Kong exemplifies Bruce Lee himself.
Solid and resilient at the same time, like Bruce Lee, Hong Kong is a land of magnificence, both in terms of its economic prowess and artistic endeavours. It’s no wonder that Hong Kong is one of the lands where the arts flourish, specifically in the areas of cinematic excellence.
Artistic elements aside, it cannot be denied that Hong Kong – the mother oyster of pearls – has groomed many directors such as John Woo, Tsui Hark, Stephen Chow, Donnie Yen, Wong Kar Wai, Peter Chan, Wong Jing and many more.
While other asian countries have encouraged the development of directors, few countries have the infrastructure and the right mix like Hong Kong to develop such a diverse mix of talents.
While John Woo and Donnie Yen cover action-packed movies such as “A Better Tomorrow” (1986) and “Legend of the Wolf” (1997) respectively, Stephen Chow has stepped in to fill the shoes of a comedian in both the actor’s and director’s chairs in films such as “From Beijing with Love” (1994) and “King of Comedy” (1999), of which he subsequently merged genres such as comedy and action together to produce film such as “Shaolin Soccer” (2001) and “Kung Fu Hustle” (2004) before taking the plunge into emotional flicks that is “CJ7” (2008)).
Wong Kar Wai ups the ante on the quality of the art scenes by producing films of artistic merits, of which some notable titles include “Days of Being Wild” (1990) and “Happy Together” (1997). Peter Chan has covered historical epic tales in recent years, such as “Warlords” (2007) and “Bodyguards and Assassins” (2009) while Wong Jing consistently populates the big screen with films as diverse as “God of Gamblers” (1989) and “The Enforcer” (1995).
While Hong Kong has no lack of talents for directors, much can also be said of the diverse talents it has groomed that includes Andy Lau, Aaron Kwok, Leon Lai and Jackie Cheung – all of who are all able to sing and act at the same time.
Despite such a conducive environment for the film industry, it seems a tad saddening to observe a gradual decline in the quality of films that are being produced in recent years, as compared to numerous classic and memorable titles during its heydays in the 80s and 90s. A prominent example is the recently-released “3D Sex and Zen: Extreme Ecstasy” (2011), a remake which does not fare as well as its predecessors. “Punished” (2011), a recent flick, also does not score well for this writer – especially when compared to classic masterpieces from years before.
But with new talents coming out of Hong Kong, the curtains may not permanently fall down on it – yet.
Maybe the current falling of the curtains may just be for an intermission.
Oh yes, let’s bring Tsui Hark’s “Once Upon a Time in China” back – once again.