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China Taiwan Hong Kong
Introduction to the Cinema of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan
2. The Cinema of Continental China
2.1 The Fifth Generation
Zhang Yimou · Chen Kaige · Tian Zhuangzhuang 2.2 The Sixth Generation
Jia Zhangke · Other Films and Other Directors 2.3 Other Directors
Feng Xiaogang · Jiang Wen
2.4 More films available at Casa Asia Media Library
3. Cinema in Taiwan
3.1 The New Wave of Cinema of Taiwan
Edward Yang · Tsai Ming-liang · Hou Hsiao Hsien 3.2 New Generations in Cinema in Taiwan Taipei 21 · The Most Distant Course 3.3 Other Directors
China Taiwan Hong Kong
Chu Yen-ping · Ang Lee 3.4 Diaspora Cinema
Wayne Wang 3.5 More films available at Casa Asia Media Library
4. Cinema in Hong Kong
4.1 Classical Cinema of Hong Kong
King Hu · Inoue Umetsugu 4.2 First Wave of Films of Hong Kong
Tsui Hark · Yim Ho · Ann Hui 4.3 Second Wave of Cinema of Hong Kong
Clara Law · Stanley Kwan · Laurence Lau · Wong Kar-Wai 4.4 Independent Cinema
Fruit Chan · Keneth Bi 4.5 New Directors of Cinema of Hong Kong
Derek Kwok · Wong Ching-Po · Stephen Fung · Edmond Pang 4.6 Cinematographic Genres
John Woo and Heroic Bloodshed · Stephen Chow and Comedy from Hong Kong · Noir from Hong Kong (Johnnie To · Wilson Yip · Stanley Kwan · Derek Yee) 4.7 Other Directors and Producers
Joe Ma · Peter Chan 4.8 More films available at Casa Asia Media Library
China Taiwan Introduction to the Cinema of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan Even though they are politically joined by the same country, the cinema of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan has, traditionally, few points in common. The governmental control of Chinese cinema cannot be compared to the freedom of creation of Taiwanese cinema, or with the commerciality of what used to be the Hollywood of the East, Hong Kong. However, the new era of global expansion bring works where it is not strange to see the three cinematographies joining strengths to make international superproductions. The great majority of these films are produced in Mandarin Chinese. Unlike those currently made in Hong Kong, which are normally in Cantonese Chinese. Continental films are normally dubbed when they are screened in Hong Kong. Taiwan, where Mandarin Chinese is predominantly spoken, constitutes one of the main centres of exportation for the cinematographic production of continental China.
The tip of the iceberg is what’s known of Chinese cinema. It is easy to mistake this cinematography with the production of independent cinema that is screened at festivals from all over the world or with productions that thanks to their artistic and exotic components have gone beyond the borders of the West. But what is really shown in the West is only 1.49% of all the annual Chinese production. Let’s give an example: In year 2007 the industry of cinema in China achieved a historical record with 402 produced films, which means that only 6 where shown in Spain. However, if the number of productions separates us from China there are two pieces of information that “relatively” approach us to China: For five consecutive years the production of Chinese films has increased. In Spain, year after year, the number of displayed Chinese films also increases. Analysts of the Chinese Government coincide with the fact that only a minority of great productions, made by well-known names in China as well as internationally such as Zhang Yimou or Chen Kaige represent the biggest part of the income of ticket offices. In Spain around 40 Chinese films shown since 1988 until 2008 were made by these directors. Even so, China is a lucky country within Asia: South Korea has awakened and, however, its films are not shown on our screens. On the other hand, only a minimum part of Indian films arrive in our country. Despite the fact the Hong Kong has lived an era of splendour in the 80’s, currently its production has dramatically fallen. In this guide, we will go through the main cinematographic waves that China has experienced, going through the Fifth Generation with Zhang Yimou and Cheng Kaige at the top, we will approach the called Sixth Generation, with Jia Zhangke as its maximum exponent and some other important works, and we will end with some names of directors that, even if they are not placed in any of the aforementioned generations, they are important in the current panorama of Chinese cinema (Feng Xiaogang and Jiang Wen).
The Cinema of Continental China
The Fifth Generation
In the mid-80’s a generation of rebel, antisystem and against the almost extinguished “cultural revolution”, critical with certain realities of the Chinese tradition and, especially, with a punch visual aesthetic appeared from the newly restored Film Academy of Beijing. In 1988 a shy Chinese production called “Red Sorghum” achieved a Golden Bear at the Festival of Berlin. This was the beginning: The discovery of a cinematography we could not access until then and the birth of a new wave of directors who made up a new artistic panorama that challenged conventions, in the political field (facing censorship through stories with a high metaphorical content) and in the creative field, through the modernization of a national filmic system. Colour became the constitutive base of a self-referential system full of symbols that, at the same time, served to introduce spectators in a disturbed experience deeply sensitive and emotional. It was called “plastic expression” and it was present in the two foundational films of the movement, “Yellow Earth” (1984) by Chen Kaige and “Red Sorgue” (1987) by Zhang Yimou. Soon Kaige and Yimou became the standards of this new Chinese cinema that was introduced in the West with no difficulty, thanks to the immediate acceptance by the specialised critic and its consideration in the bosom of the greatest international festivals.
Yellow Earth (Chen Kaige, 1984)
Red Sorghum (Zhang Yimou, 1987)
ZHANG Yimou House of Flying Daggers (Zhang Yimou, 2004)
He might be the greatest exponent of the called Fifth Generation and the internationally best known director and the most acclaimed of his country (this is why he was the director of the spectacular opening ceremony of the last Olympic Games held in Beijing). These first films fluctuate between four points that generate the conflicts of their stories: Tradition, land, desire and death. But if something has characterised this director it is his capacity to become mutant and adapt himself with no difficulty to any kind of style, which he has mentioned many times: The need to reformulate himself, to rehearse new genres. Likewise, we have gone from the tradition and immobility of “Red Sorgue” or the impressive historical-filmic altarpiece which is “To Live” to the mobility, hand-camera, used in “Keep Cool”, later encouraging the rebirth of “wuxia”, with films such as “Hero” or “House of Flying Daggers” and reaching the aesthetic baroque style with the most recent “The curse of the golden flower”.
Raise the Red Lantern Year: 1991 With: Gong Li, He Caifei, Cao Cuiden Genre: Drama After his father’s death, a 19 year old young woman is forced to marry the gentleman of a powerful family: A fifty year old man who already had three wives, each of whom live in an independent house within a great palace. “Raise the Red Lantern” won the Silver Lion at the Festival of Venice of 1991, a film where the weight of tradition reaches its highest level of representation and oppression on the screen.
Not One Less Year: 1999 With: Minzhi Wei, Huike Zhang, Zhenda Tian Genre: Drama
Hero Year: 2002 With: Jet Li, Tony Leung, Maggie Cheung, Zhang Ziyi Genre: Wuxia
This is the story of Wei, a 13 year old young girl in a rural village, who carries out the tasks of a teacher during the absence of the usual teacher. Wei will perceive a good remuneration if when professor Gao returns, none of the 28 students of the class have abandoned their studies. When one of them decides to search for a living in the great city, Wei will begin a tireless pursuit to take him back. With non professional actors, Yimou shows us in a realistic manner and almost documentary poverty and illiteracy of rural life and the great economic and cultural differences of China.
If there is a genre par excellence in Chinese popular cinematography it is “wuxia”: Historical period films where combats are staged body to body (martial arts) or with white arms (especially swords). After the success of “Tiger and Dragon” by Ang Lee, Yimou follows it and makes “Hero”, where he mixes commerciality and independent films so successfully that he turns a simple adventure into a true epic and connects with the audiences from all over the world offering a visual and auditory sublime and poetic show.
Riding Alone for Thousand of Miles Year: 2005 With: Ken Takakura, Shinobu Terajima, Jiang Wen, Jiamin Li Genre: Drama Yimou goes back to his usual theme territories, to the exploration of human feelings and to an almost documentary filming of reality that accompanies characters. It is the story of a Japanese person, a fisher who needs to expiate his son’s guilts of the past, before he dies. For this he will go on a trip to an unknown but emergent culture. He will have to move to the Chinese province of Yunnan to conclude the unfinished dream of his son Kenichi and achieve his forgiveness this way.
He is one of the first exponents of the Fifth Generation of Chinese cinema. His first film, “Yellow Earth” (1984), shot with Zhang Yimou as the photography director, was one of the greatest influences for subsequent generations due to its visual quality and the elliptic shape of its narration. In 1993, Kaige achieved the Golden Palm of Cannes for his internationally best known film: “Farewell my Concubine”. It is said that Chen Kaige in his teenager years, in the middle of the Cultural Revolution, was forced to give away his own father and that this fact marked his life forever, being father-son relationships (teacher-student, master-disciple, etc.) one of the main topics of his films (“King of the Children”, “Life on a String”, “Together”). In 2005 the director was also tempted by glamour of “wuxia” and made “The Promise”, a film where visual paraphernalia and digital effects overflowed a story that promised much more. The majesty with which Kaige gives his works is still untouched. Yellow Earth Year: 1984 With: Wang Xueqi, Xue Bai, Liu Quiang Genre: Drama Chen Kaige affirms that art and trade are not contradictory and he gives as an example “Yellow Herat”, emblematic title that the Fifth Generation that accounts the odyssey of a communist soldier sent to the “field” in the middle of the Communist Revolution to collect popular songs that highlight the revolutionary spirit. But they do not exist, reality is much tougher, and in the bosom of a peasant family he will discover what the true songs of the rural population are: Songs about how hard work is and about suffering. Farewell my Concubine Year: 1993 With: Leslie Cheung, Zhang Fengyi, Gong Li, Lu Qi Génre: Drama/Romance His best known work in the West, “Farewell my Concubine” was nominated to two Oscars and won the Goleen Palm of Cannes. It is the adaptation of the homonymous novel by Lilian Lee, the film that accounts the story of two actors of the Opera of Beijing, a woman who is placed in middle of bother and at the same time, in parallel, the political and social history for decades of changes of the 20th century China. 10
Born in China in 1952, Zhuangzhuang belonged to the Fifth Generation of Chinese directors (colleague of Zhang Yimou in the Film Academy of Beijing). His beginnings as a cameraman, left titles such as “The Horse Thief” or “The Blue Kite”, which faithfully portrayed almost as a documentary many of the realities of this country. Prolific in the 80’s, in the 90’s Tian went behind the cameras where he acted as a producer and patron of some of the artists that were later acknowledged in the called Sixth Generation of Chinese directors. His last productions, “Springtime in a Small Town” or “The Go Master” give us back the Tian Zhuangzhuang of the beginning, but with more intimist and personal stories.
The Blue Kite Year: 1993 With: Tian Yi, Zhang Wenyao, Chen Xiaoman, Lu Liping Genre: Drama One of the representative films of the Fifth Generation, censored by part of the Chinese authorities due to its social and political criticism. “The Blue Kite” describes the hardships of a family in Beijing and of its neighbours and friends, who in the decades of the 50’s and 60’s, had to live and suffer a especially turbulent and hectic period in the political and social fields.
The Horse Thief Year: 1986 With: Daiba, Dan Jiji, Drashi, Gaoba Genre: Drama
Springtime in a Small Town Year: 2002 With: Hu Jingfan, Wu Jun, Bai Qing Xin Genre: Drama/Romance
The second film by Tian Zhuangzhuang, after “On the Hunting Ground” (1984) is a reflection of the reality that describes the work by this director. Shot in the remote forests of Tibet, it tells us the story of Norbu, a mountain poor man who feels forced to steal a horse to maintain his family. When his crime is discovered they expulse the family from the tribe, which takes them to a tough pilgrimage around the snowy mountains. A show of photography and colour, shot in a semidocumentary tone and with non-professional actors. A wonderful film.
This is one of the most intimist films of the director, where closed and suffocating spaces serve as a perfect description for the souls of their main characters. In 1946, in a small village in South China spring is about to fall and as nature blooms, buried feelings will appear in the bosom of a family when a visitor of the past arrives: Love, passion, lust… everything will be used to question the meaning of friendship, honour and trust. 11
The Sixth Generation
With the Fifth Generation at the end of its reign, a new wave of film-makers stood out at the Academy of Beijing: Those graduate students that debuted behind the cameras between 1993 and 1995. Rebel, eclectic and anti-system, these directors make up what would be called the Sixth Generation of Chinese directors that, unlike the previous one, presents a more individualist and anti-romantic perspective and pays attention to contemporary urban life. Many of his films reflect the disorientation and the most negative aspects of the joining of China to the modern capitalist system. Shot in a rapid and cheap way, with long takes, cameras and environmental sound (which produces a documentary feeling), the production of the Sixth Generation is more like the “cinema vérité” than like ornamented cinema of their ancestors. Many of these films are joint productions, on occasions financed by foreign producing companies. Some directors and their most representative works are Wang Xiaoshuai (”Beijing Bicycle”), Zhang Yuan (“Beijing Bastards”, “East Palace, West Palace”), Jia Zhangke (“Xiao Wu”, “Unknown Pleasures”, “The World”, “Still Life”) or Lou Ye (“Suzhou River”).
Jia Zhangke is one of the most important directors of the Chinese independent current panorama and therefore the maximum exponent of the Sixth Generation. There is not work of his which is not screened at some important international festival and many of his works have achieved awards in the East (Pusan Festival, Asian Film Awards) and in the West (Cannes, Venice or Berlin Festivals). With less than ten fiction long-films and documentaries, his work involves a lucid contribution of the changes that take place in the globalised world and its effects. They are deeply contemporary films that try to portray the mutations of the Chinese society at the same time they are happening. After his first 3 films shot in his hometown and criticized as too parochial (“Pickpocket”, “Platform” and “Unknown Pleasures”), Zhangke jumps in the world with “The World”. A work that opens its doors to the mainstream of the Chinese film industry, at the same time it leads him directly to the centre of the international film panorama (he won the Golden Lion at the Festival of Venice in 2004). From here to stardom.en el 2004). De aquí, al estrellato.
Unknown Pleasures Year: 2002 With: Wei Wei Zhao, Wu Qiong, Tao Zhao, Qing Feng Zhou Genre: Drama/Comedy In the industrial city of Datong, China, two unemployed friends, Xiao Ji and Bin Bin, spend time smoking cigarettes and driving their motorbikes. In a changing world, the two friends, unable to strengthen their sentimental relationships and their place in the world, will have to make a decision about their lives.
The World Year: 2004 With: Tao Zhao, Chen Taisheng, Jing Jue, Jiang Zhong-wei Genre: Drama “The World” is set in the theme park World Park of Beijing that recreates tourist monuments from any part of the world: It is a ‘false’ decontextualized space where we are shown our ‘real’ beings, surviving and trying to develop their lives. Jia Zhangke shows us with “The World” a metaphor of what modern capitalism can bring: The destruction of identities within a papiermâché universal world, the world of trade.
Still life Year: 2006 With: Tao Zhao, Lan Zhou, Han Sanming, Ma Lizhen Genre: Drama/Romance Through this follow-up of the different stages of construction of the Three Gorges dam, we are silent witnesses of a landscape that is progressively blurred before our eyes and where two characters will search for their origins, one to be brought up to the surface, and another to bury it forever. “Still Life” is a tribute to Jia Zhangke to that forgotten and broken up, decrepit nostalgia of a socio-cultural model in ruins, towards the China of progress and industrialization.
Still Life (Jia Zhangke, 2006)
Other Films and Other Directors of the Sixth Generation Shower Director: Zhang Yan Year: 1999 With: Jiang Wu, Jiayi Du, Pu Quanxin Genre: Drama
Zhang Yan might be the most simple and humanist director of the Sixth Generation. His films, with the same intention to portray the Chinese reality, show certain doses of hope and through comedy he has always told nice stories (this might be why he has been accused of making “easy” films). Such as “Shower”, a wonderful comedy, full of good feelings. It accounts Daming’s return home, Mr Liu’s eldest son, who manages a typical public bathroom. It is the job he has had all his life and that Daming does not want to continue, which is why he went to Beijing. The return home allows him to enjoy unforgettable days, with his father and with Erming, a mentally retarded brother at the same time he will have to face future and his responsibilities. The film achieved many awards, among which the Silver Shell to the Best Director in the San Sebastian Film Festival is highlighted
Beijing Bicycle Director: Wang Xiaoshuai Year: 2000 With: Cui Lin, Li Bin, Zhou Xun, Shuang Li Genre: Drama The young director Wang Xiaoshuai is one of the highlighted directors of the Sixth Generation. After his first four films (“The Days”, “Frozen”, “So Close to Paradise” and “The House”) suffered pressure (“kidnaps”) of the Chinese Film Office, he was finally able to show his talent to the world when “Beijing Bicycle” won the Silver Bear and the Great Award of the Jury at the Berlin Festival in 2001. A beautiful and heartbreaking drama where two teenagers compete for a modern bicycle. This struggle will show the contradictions, needs and miseries of the current Chinese society that discusses ancient traditions and ethic values and the growing consumerist materialism of a new capitalist society.
Suzhou River Director: Lou Ye Year: 2000 With: Zhou Xun, Jia Jongshen, Hua Zhongkai Genre: Drama/Romance
Suzhou river goes through Shanghai with its trace of dirt, chaos and poverty, but it is also a meeting point of nostalgia and memories: The memory of a time when its main characters were happy, keeping that feeling deep inside and making it the only engine that makes them continue. Lou Ye is one of the most interesting directors of the beginning of the century, with his particular way of shooting (which strolls between “homemade videos” and documentaries or “cinéma vérité”). Again, a director who portrays the megalopolis of Shanghai immersed in the process of globalization through a crazy love story.
Blind Shaft Director: Li Yang Year: 2003 With: Li Qiang, Wang Baoqiang, Wan Shuangbao Genre: Drama Li Yang is one of those young directors who belongs to the “urban generation” (which is also called the Sixth Generation). “Blind Shaft” was his surprising debut and the film that has dug up the contemporary Chinese reality with rage, virulence and sagacity. It is a tough film, a terrible drawing of corruption, of exploitation and guile about the good will of people who come from agricultural areas and that move to industrial and mine areas. Courthouse on the Horseback Director: Jie Liu Year: 2006 With: Li Baotian, Yang Yaning, Lu Yulai, Tingliang Li Genre: Drama Winner of the Horizons Prize at the Festival of Venice, “Courthouse on the Horseback”, shot with the complicity of non professional actors, it is a nostalgic and hurt look at China, the China of ethnical minorities, where progress did not go. In Canton of Ninglang, in the southern province of Yunnan, two men and a woman ploughed impossible paths on a horse to take justice to remote villages. It is a trip around te present that makes us go on a trip to the past. 17
FENG Xiaogang Without a doubt, we could consider him the commercial director par excellence of Chinese cinema. Every film of his is a success in continental China. Feng Xiaogang was born in 1958 in Beijing and settled in middle of the Fifth and Sixth Generation. He begins in the world of cinema in 1993 with dramas and urban comedies, and in 2003 he achieves one of the most famous successes of Chinese films with “Cell Phone”. From here on, everything this director will achieve is successful as if he was the Chinese Steven Spielberg: In 2004 he produced and directed an action film “A World Without Thieves” and in 2006 he dares to work on an adaptation of Shakesperare, “The Banquet” and in 2007 he finally earns the trust of the critics with “The Assembly”, screened at BAFF ’07 (Asian Film Festival of Barcelona) at its opening session.
A World without Thieves Year: 2004 With: Tian Yi, Zhang Wenyao, Chen Xiaoman, Lu Liping Genre: Drama Presented as the opening film of the Far East Film Festival (Italy) in 2005, “A World without Thieves” became on of the successes of his country. The film, a road movie that takes place in a train, accounts the oddysea of a pair of white glove thieves that tries to protect a village person loaded with money that goes back to their hometown from the attacks of many thieves that like them have taken the same train. A great film.
The Banquet Year: 2006 With: Zhang Ziyi, Ge You, Daniel Wu, Zhou Xun Genre: Historical/Drama The martial epic continues owning directors among the first class Chinese directors. Those who are already known in the genre (Ang Lee, Zhang Yimou, Chen Kaige…) are joined to Fen Xiaogang, in a beautiful love story, sadness and swords. A free adaptation of Hamlet set in the 10th Century China stared by the more and more international Zhan Ziyi.
Assembly (Feng Xiaogang, 2007) The Banquet (Feng Xiaogang, 2006)
It is the face par excellence of Chinese cinema. The most famous and popular actor of his country and one of the current most important directors, as well as a producer and scriptwriter. He was born in Beijing in 1963. He studied drama at the Central Academy of Theatre. Soon later, he began his career in theatre stages and in cinema, where he was internationally made known for his main role in “Red Sorgue” by Zhang Yimou. Even though he has mostly been an actor, his works as a director are also highlighted because they are a representation of good cinema: After the excellent initiatic account of “In the Heat of Sun” (1994) set in the Cultural Revolution, we find “Devils on the Doorstep” (2000) and later “The Sun also Rises” which competed against great actors such as Joan Chen or Anthony Wong. Devils on the Doorstep Year: 2000 Director: Jiang Wen With: Jiang Wen, Jiang Yihong, Teruyuki Kagawa, Yuan Ding Genre: War Drama During the Japanese occupation of China, in a small village of peasants the army frees two prisoners. The village is ordered to watch them until they are collected the following year. The leaders of the village are brought together to interrogate prisoners and try to settle them. As an expressionist film and with an excellent black and white photography, this film is based on a true story that took place in the 2nd World War. Full of sarcasm and ferocity, it recreates an uneasy space full of violence and fear with a camera that shoots like machine gun images on the verge of being ill. One of the best films directed by Jiang Wen if it isn’t the best.
Keep Cool Year: 1997 Director: Zhang Yimou With: Ge You, Jiang Wen, Jiao Gang. Li Baotian Genre: Comedy/Drama “Keep Cool” is set the the middle of Zhang Yimou’s career as a director and is based on a novel by Shu Ping, also author of the script of the film. Through the confrontation between a young book seller (Jiang Wen) and a mature executive (different ages and social classes), we notice the different Chinas that face the entrance of capitalism. Fast rhythm, hand camera, leaning shots and pop aesthetics are the weird characteristics of this film, unusual resources in this director who seems to be using a videoclip more than a paused narrative like he did in “Red Sorghum”.
Green Tea Year: 2003 Director: Zhang Yuan With: Jiang Wen, Vicky Zhao, Fan Lijun, Zhang Yuan. Genre: Drama/Romance With the impressive photography of Cristopher Doyle and the outstanding performance of Vicky Zhao playing two roles at the same time, “Green Tea” is tasted slowly and calmly: Poor Jiang Wen will feel trapped by the master’s course student Wu Fang who he meets during the day and the provocative Lang Lang who he meets in a bar at night. Our main character is convinced that they are the same person, is that true?
Letter from an Unknown Woman Year: 2004 Director: Jinglei Xu With: Huang Jue, Jiang Wen, Jiao Huang, Lin Yuan Genre: Drama “Letter from an Unknown Woman” which is directed by an authentic mass phenomenon in her country, Jinglei Xu, is the sensitive adaptation of the novel with the same name by Stefan Zweig and won the Silver Shell at the San Sebastian Film Festival in 2004. The action takes place in Beijing in 1948, where a man (Jiang Wen) receives an anonymous letter by a woman who says that she has been in love with him all her life.
More films of the Cinema of Continental China available at Casa Asia Media Library The Fifth Generation Red Sorghum (Zhang Yimou, 1987) JuDou (Zhang Yimou, 1990) Shanghai Triad (Zhang Yimou, 1995) King of the Children (Chen Kaige, 1987) Life on a String (Chen Kaige, 1994) Together (Chen Kaige, 2002) The Go Master (Tian Zhuangzhuang, 2006) The Sixth Generation Xiao Wu / Pickpocket (Jia Zhangke, 1997) Platform (Jia Zhangke, 2000) Shanghai Dreams (Wang Xiaoshuai, 2005) A Sigh (Feng Xiaogang, 2000) Assembly (Feng Xiaogang, 2007) The Sun also Rises (Jiang Wen, 2007)
Assembly (Feng Xiaogang, 2007)
Cinema in Taiwan
Taiwan has characterised itself for a different cult cinema, with risky proposals that did not fit in the patrons of Hong Kong or China, due to the political freedom of the country and to the aid of western capital. It was in 1982 and with the premiere of the film “In our Time” (modest production of 4 episodes, one of them made by Edward Yang) when a new cinema in Taiwan is born, far from the most commercial proposals that came from Hong Kong. From here on we will approach the review of Taiwanese cinema: From this New Wave of the 80’s and its main directors (Edward Yang, Hou Hsiao Hsien and Tsai Ming Liang), and going through the new generations of directors of the current panorama. However, we cannot forget the two Taiwanese directors that, without classifying in any specific wave, they win the admiration of the critic and the public: Ang Lee on the one hand, who could be the best known Taiwanese director; and on the other Chu Yen Ping, not as known by the western critic but whose commercial films are liked by the majority of the Taiwanese public.
The New Wave of Cinema of Taiwan
In effect, with the premiere in 1982 of the film â€œIn our Timeâ€? (modest production of 4 episodes) a breaking up of commercial cinema that comes from Hong Kong takes part. From then the Taiwanese production has a bigger approach with the social reality of the country. In addition, topics such as urban alienation, the breaking of the family class or sentimental break ups, among others, will be the models. These schemes are reinforced when in 1987 the Manifest of Taiwanese Cinema was published, signed by a total of 53 film makers (among which Hou Hsiao-Hsien, Edward Yang or Tsai Ming-Liang stand out) where the same postulates are confirmed. On top of everything the effort to join and concile tradition and modernity in its cinema: To recover the historical memory and to vindicate the identity of a country that is supedited to the comes and goes and political interests of every period.
Millenium Mambo (Hou Hsiao Hsien, 2006)
Edward YANG Edward Yang said that Taiwan and the United States share a special lack of ethnical unity that makes them be unrooted. And uprooting is precisely what defines the vital and professional trajectory of this director. He was born in Shanghai, after the victory of Communism, his family moved to Taiwan. From there, the director was academically educated in the USA, where he also began his first works. Likewise, when he returned to Taiwan, Yang is more aware of his western culture than his eastern culture. A love story is developed between Taiwan and Edward Yang like many of the lives accounted in his films. In 1982 he directed one of the four segments (“Expectation”) that made up the choral film “In Our Time”. It would be the previous step before making his following long films among which “A Confucian Confussion”, “Taipei Story” or “Mahjong” stand out. In 2000 the Cannes Festival awarded him as the Best Director for his last film “Yi Yi”, his internationally most acknowledged film. Unfortunately, soon after receiving the award, Yang was diagnosed a cancer, which endes his cinematographic career. He died in the United States at the age of 59 in 2007.
Tsai Ming-liang (Malaysia, 1947), together with Edward Yang and Hou Hsiao Hsien, is one of the most important values in Taiwanese cinema of the New Wave, who won many awards at important festivals. Ming-liang portrays in each of his films an unsettling and desolated society that is highly industrialised and impersonal society after the “economic miracle” of Taiwan. His favourite topics are loneliness and sex. “There is nothing more real because it is when people can be as they really are. I find that cinematographically they are the most interesting situations” (Ming-Liang comments). That is cinema: Life portraits with a bitter taste in very long silent shots.
Yi Yi Year: 2000 With: Wu Nien-Jen, Elaine Jin, Issei Ogata, Kelly Lee Genre: Drama Every member of a prototypical family of Taipei wonders about the meaning of life. Love, dislike, debts and spiritual crisis make up a portrait of the society of contemporary Taiwan. As well as the acknowledgment in the Cannes Festival, “Yi Yi” also won the award to the Best Foreign Film in the New York Awards of Film Critic in 2001.
The Hole Year:1998 With: Lin Kun-Huei, Lee Kang-Cheng, Lin Hui-Chin Genre: Drama/Musical/Fantasy Within the framework of the turn of the century that looks like imminent Apocalypsis and under the unstoppable and endless rain of Taipei, the director invites us to become spectators of the possible last hours of two people whose only relationship is the hole that connects the ceiling of one of them with the floor of another. With its ambiguous and fantastic tone, the director inserts, between those extense takes that are characteristic of his style, small musical fragments that gives a better rhythm to narration. Goodbye Dragon Inn Year: 2003 With: Lee Kang-Cheng, Tien Miao, Chen Shiang-Chyi Genre: Drama An old cinema that is about to say goodbye to its public and an old martial art film are the main silent characters of a film that is a nostalgic look at the past. Ghosts that come out of the screen (like the actors Shih Chun and Miao Tien, which observes with nostalgia the film they stared four decades ago) come accross people who search for sex in the dark in the room. The Wayword Cloud Year: 2005 With: Lee Kang-Cheng, Chen Shiang-Chyi, Lu Yi-Ching Genre: Musical First film premiered in Spain by the Taiwanese director that won three awards at the Berlin Festival in 2005. This sexual musical (erotic and not pornographic) with an end that would strike anyone, is set in a future Taipei with important cuts in water that makes the prices and the consumption of watermellons heavily increase.
Yi Yi (Edward Pang, 2000)
Hou HSIAO HSIEN
Only a few authors have achieved the prestige Hou Hsiao Hsien currently has, undoubted king of avant garde cinema. In 1989 he achieved international acknowledgement when he won the Golden Lion in Venice with “A City of Sadness”, which gave him the best critics in the most important festivals where he currently presents his films and wins awards. However, Hou’s films also has detractors and most of them simply don’t know him because out of the almost 20 films that make up his filmography we have only got to see “The Puppetmaster” (1993), “Millennium Mambo” (2001) and “Three Times”. In fact, if we want to deepen into the metaphoric meaning of Hou Hsiao Hsien’s films, we must also have basic notions about the history of Taiwan because the majority of films are centred in specific periods of the political and social life of the country.
Good Men, Good Women Year: 1995 With: Annie Shizuka, Lim Giong, Jack Kao, Vicky Wei Genre: Historic Drama With this film, Hou ends his trilogy with the history of Taiwan, begun in 1989 with “A City of Sadness” and followed in 1993 by the collosal “The Puppetmaster”. The director used large sequence shots for this film that is told in two times: From the point of view of a young woman chased by a man who won't stop sending her fax pages of her own diary that he has stolen and the story of the main character of the film that is around the same young woman, set in a period called “white horror” in 1949 and the persecution of the communists. In the end, the life of both of them (real person, fiction character) will end up mixed in such a way that spectators will not know who's who. Goodbye South, Goodbye Year: 1996 With: Hsi Hsiang, Jack Kao, Hsu Kuei-Ying, Annie Shizuka Genre: Drama With “Goodbye South, Goodbye”, Hou continues his exploration around the Taiwanese history, but at the same time from a contemporary perspective. His eye approaches modernity to show us the paths of a series of characters that survive with not very productive business. Hou deepens into the bottom to extract the disappointment of the society of his country, immersed in disconcert of the new times.
Millenium Mambo Year: 2006 With: Shu Qi, Jack Kao, Tuan Chun-Hao, Chen Yi-Hsuan Genre: Drama/Romance “Millenium Mambo” is a generational hite of contemporary avant garde. Hou catches in a critical way the spirit of those times that we have to live. The massive growth of great urbs, joined to the integration of new technologies in our everyday life has created an inflection in the way we have personal relationships. Incommunication and the lack of horizons of the youth is the portray Hou makes through environments and of neon lights of ultramodern discos of Taipei. Puppet Master (Hou Hsiao Hsien, 1993)
New Generations in Cinema in Taiwan
The new geneations of film makers born in Taipei choose a vital naturalism in their films. They are starred by characters that expire reality, and move away from conformism of art cinema aiming at experimenting with commercial genres, giving them creativity that reflects the everyday experience of the island. Young directors that know the current Taiwanese youth offer close and attractive topics for the young public they are addressed to. Their films approach topics such as sex or homosexuality without taboos or bad feelings and offer a fresh vision of post teenage relationships from the perspective of a new Taiwanese cinema.
Taipei 21 Year: 2003 Director: Alex Yang With: Ling Meng-Chin, Tsai Hsin-Hung, Toshimitsu Fujii Genre: Drama/Romance Alex Yang faces a period of disorientation in a country metaphoring through its main characters (a couple with problems) the future that has not arrived yet, a period of changes set in a recognizable everyday life.
The Most Distant Course Year: 2007 Director: Lin Lin-Jie With: Kwai Lunmei, Mo Zi-Yi, Jia Xiao-Guo. Genre: Drama Three crossed lives. Three people who runaway from their world and themselves. Non of them know each other, but their lives end up being joined at some point. So meticulous and precise as the recordings of one of the characters, this film has its own sense of rhythm which is very Taiwanese making us taste every instant as if in a certain way we could also be the main character of the film.
Other Directors Ang LEE Chu YEN-PING Despite the fact that international regards were placed on the more intimist and cult cinema of Taiwan (basically on the disciples of that New Wave), the Taiwanese public also enjoys commercial films in their cinemas. This is where we come accross Chu YenPing, the called Spielberg of Taiwan, because he is the king of commercial cinema that is premiered there, just like action films of Hong Kong. He has worked with the great actors of the genre (Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Sammo Hung) and his career is centred in most popular genres: Action and martial arts (“Island of Fire, “Pink Force Commando”, “Dragon Attack”), wuxia (“The Assassin Swordsman”, “Flying Dagger”) or the comedy (“Funny Family”, “A Home too Far”). Shaolin Popey Year: 1994 With: Vivian Hsu, Jimmy Lin, Hilary Tsui Genre: Action/Martial Arts/Comedy It is a mixture of a romantic comedy for teenagers with action and martial arts scenes where two children, apprentices of a Shaolin Temple, will help a young secondary school student to initiate in the arts of fighting to win the heart of the young daughter of the headmaster and face his rival, who is also interested in the girl. Kung Fu Dunk Year: 2008 With: Chen Bo-Lin, Charlene Choi, Eric Tsang, Chu Yen-Ping Genre: Fantasy/Action/Martial Arts It is a film based on a famous Japanese manga called “Slam Dunk” and we could say it is the basketball version of “Shaolin Soccer” by Stephen Chow. Shot between Taiwan and continental China, the film portrays the fall and recovery and boom of a basketball star. Romance, sports, action and fantasy. 34
Ang Lee easily moves between the East and the West, between both of the great World Powers of cinema, Hollywood and Hong Kong-China-Taiwan. He was born in Taiwan and was academically educated there and in 1978 he moved to the USA to finish his studies. As a consequence of his hybrid education, his cinematographic trajectory is also so: Lee is able to absorb like a sponge the genres he moves around, showing his ability to make the most of his creative universe. He is a versatile and changing director, as his works that go from one genre to another show: Custum comedy (“Pushing Hands”, 1991), the tragic comedy about the cultural clash (“The Wedding Banquet, 1992), the story of Eastern smells about the generational confrontation (“Eat Drink Man Woman”, 1994), the historical literary melodrama (“Sense and Sensibility”, 1995), the dissecting drama of the American society (“The Ice Storm”, 1997), the tribute to westerns (“Ride with the Devil”, 1999) or its redefinition according to current canons (“Brokeback Mountain”, 2005), the recovery of the wuxia genre (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”, 2000), the reconversion in images of a superheroe comic (“Hulk”, 2003) and the historical-erotico thriller (“Lust, Caution”, 2007), superhéroes (Hulk, 2003) y el thriller histórico-erótico (Deseo, peligro, 2007). Pushing Hands Year: 1992 With: Bin Chao, Victor Chan, Lester Chan, Fanny De Luz Genre: Comedy/Drama First film by Ang Lee completely produced in Taiwan. At the beginning of his career, Lee was interested in deepening into the migratory conflicts, in those people that have to leave their hometowns behind and learn to live in a new culture. This is what happens to an old taichi teacher who stars “Pushing Hands” when we leaves Beijing to live with his son, his American daugther-in-law and his grandson in a suburb of New York. The grandfather will become more and more distant of his family when he feels out of place in the western culture.
The Wedding Banquet Year: 1993 With: Dion Birney, Jeanne Kuo-Chang, Winston Chao Genre: Comedy/Drama Simon and Wei-Tung are a gay couple that lives together happilly in New York, despite the pressure of the Taiwanese parents of Wei-Tung, faithful to their traditions, encourage him to get married. To please his parents, the young man prepares an arranged marriage with a Chinese young woman who needs a residence permit. Tung like most of the characters of the universe of Ang Lee, has two contradictions: The love he feels for his parents who he does not want to disappoint and the hiding of his homosexuality.
Eat Drink Man Woman Year: 1993 With: Lung Shihung, Wang Yu-Wen, Wu Chien-Lien Genre:Comedia/Drama This film refers to the essential nature of human being that is fed by food, drink and love, in a context marked by the rituality inherited of many generations. It was the first film Ang Lee shot in Taiwan (he has only shot 3 films in his country in all his career. The rest in the USA). The film of 2001 “Tortilla Soup” directed by María Ripoll is a remake of it.
Diaspora Cinema Diaspora: Dispersion of ethnical or religious groups that have abandoned their place of origin and are scattered around the World, living among people that are not of their condition. The Princess of Nebraska (Wayne Wang, 2008) ÂŠMagnolia films
It is calculated that more than 35 million people who are ethnically Chinese are scattered around the world. The called Chinese Diaspora began even before the 19th Century (especially in Southeast Asia) and of different origins, but especially of generations of settlers of Hong Kong and of south China. Away from the diversity of their origins, the overseas Chinese share a feeling of unity and identity, as well as an absolute love and loyalty to their mother land. It is not strange, therefore, that cinema has wanted to reflect feelings, frustrations, worries, identity crisis, etc. and that Chinese directors have wanted to deepen into the realities of their emigrated compatriots (like Ann Hui, Ang Lee, Edward Yang and of course Wayne Wang did).
Like his mother (the father of Wayne named him alter his favourite American actor John Wayne), the life and trajectory of this director can be permanently found in his love for the United States and at the same time for his place of origin, Hong Kong. Born and grown up there, Wang moved to California at the age of 17 years old to study cinema and television. He was married to Miss Hong Kong, Cora Miao, Wayne Wang established his residence between Washingon and New York, developing his career in the USA. But he never forgot China, as all his filmography shows: In his 2 years of career Wang has been the portrayist par excellence of the experiences of the Chinese people who live in America. His favourite topics: The feeling of belonging to a community, the crisis of identity, the loss of roots, family and relationships between parents and children. “Chan is Missing” (1982) and “Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart” (1985) were the beginning of his cinematographic career and the films that established his reputation. His greatest success or best known film is “The Joy Luck Club” (1993).
Eat a Bowl of Tea Year: 1989 With: Cora Miao, Russell Wong, Victor Wong, Eric Tsang Genre: Drama/Romance/ Comedy Set at the end of the 40’s, when the American authorities opened the doors to the entrance of Chinese women to the USA, this film establishes a series of stories of the Chinese American community. The cultural constrast between the country of origin and of adoption, the discovery of how this new world works and the status of voluntary margination are some of the axes of this fresh ethnical comedy. The Joy Luck Club Year: 1993 With: Kieu Chinh, Tsai Chin, France Nuyen, Lisa Lu, Wen Ming-Na Genre: Drama Film that launched Wayne Wang to fame, which is an adaptation of Amy Tan’s bestseller, who also took part in the script. And in more than two hours the life of eight Chinese origin women is described. The main character is June, a young Chinese American girl who after her mother's death, inherits her position in a club that names the film. His three aunts and respective daughters also belong to the club. One after another, these women will deepen into their lives, frustrations and hopes, until they make up a vast mosaic where more than fifty years of the history of China and the USA is are reflected. Chinese Box Year: 1997 With: Gong Li, Jeremy Irons, Maggie Cheung, Michael Hui Genre: Drama The story of a British person, completely integrated in Hong Kong, in love with the city and a women from Hong Kong for 10 years. A love and death story within the Hong Kong of the end of the 20th century, about to end being a British colony to become part of continental China. Want wanted to trap this moment of transition: A moment of identity change (or not?) for Hong Kong and of possible insecurity for its citizens.
The Joy Luck Club (Wayne Wang, 1993)
More films of the Cinema of Taiwan available at Casa Asia Media Library New Wave of Cinema of Taiwan Café Lumière (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2003) I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone (Tsai Ming-Liang, 2006) Other directors and new generations of Cinema of Taiwan Fantasy Mission Force (Chu Yen-Ping, 1982) Fishing Luck (Tseng Wen-Chen, 2003) Keeping Watch (Cheng Fenfen, 2007) Wayne Wang, reference director of the Chinese diaspora cinema Blue in the Face (1995) Anywhere but Here (1999)
Café Lumière (Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 2003)
Cinema in Hong Kong
After Hong Kong hosted in 1896 its first cinematographic sceening, it has been the neuralgic centre of Asian cinema until not long ago. As a British colony, it had political and economic freedom which favoured its cinema that also had influence of many exiled Chinese directors. For decades Hong Kong was the third country with a powerful cinematographic industry (after India and Hollywood) and its influence mostly came from East Asia. Thanks to the mixture of originality and commerciality, in the West films from Hong Kong arrived as cult material, especially its action and martial art cinema that is also part of its cultural current and has been copied for a long time. Despite the crisis the industry suffered in the middle of the 90s (increased by the return of the island to China in 1997) nowadays Hong Kong maintains its distinctive identity in cinematography. Again we will go through cinematography of Hong Kong through cinematographic waves that have been generated throughout the years. Moreover, without forgetting classical cinema of Hong Kong in the 50s and 60s (we will talk about King Hu and Inoue Umetsugu), we will go through the 1st Wave of Films from Hong Kong of the beginning of the 70s 42
(also called New Wave) with Tsui Hark and Ann Hui as examples, we will approach the called 2nd Wave of the 80s with the most representative directors, as well as the main features of the independent cinema of the 90s, also known as “independent realism” and the new talents that are rising currently in cinema of Hong Kong. As well as this chronological revision, it is essential when we talk about cinema from Hong Kong to make a generic subdivisión: This is, in cinema of Hong Kong there are cinematographic genres that are authentically from Hong Kong and that we cannot forget. Likewise, we will talk about John Woo and its heroic bloodshed of Cantonese comedy by Stephen Chow and of the new rebirth of black cinema of Hong Kong with Johnnie To at the front. To finish we will stop at two figures within cinematography of Hong Kong which are difficult to classify in the previous sections: Peter Chan and Joe Ma. 43
Classical Cinema of Hong Kong King Inoue HU UMETSUGU He was considered by specialised critics the Chinese Akira Kurosawa and the inventor of the wuxia genre. His filmography is shared between Taiwan, Hong Kong and China. King Hu with the great budgets of the producer Shaw Brothers made the wuxia genre be reborn in the 60’s, which was famous in novels, but has now be taken to the large sceen and with a spectacularity never seen before. King Hu was considered the most influential director of contemporary Chinese cinema. His influence has allowed the next generations of film directors that have payed tribute to him in different films such as “Tiger and Dragon” by Ang Lee or “House of Flying Daggers” by Zhang Yimou. In his filmography we must also highlight one of his first films, the masterpiece “Son of Good Earth”, like with como “Dragon Gate Inn”, “Legend of the Mountain” or “Raining in the Mountain”.
The Musical from Hong Kong The 60’s were the golden years of the great cinematographic studios of Hong Kong. Companies such as Catia or the Shaw Brothers worked like its American homologous style, offering popular superproductions in glorious technicolour. Among genres the star of the time was the musical. Usually directed by the Japanese Inoue Umetsugu, they preserve untouched all the rhythm of the moment of the premiere. Despite the fact that he is Japanese (he was born in Kyoto in 1923) and having begun his career as a writer, scriptwriter and director, Inoue Umetsugu signed in 1967 a vast contract with Shaw Bros, which tied Hong Kong for many years and where it would be unavoidally associated to the musical. As well as those mentioned, we also highlight “The Millionaire Chase”, “Young Lovers”, “Hong Kong Nocturne” or “King Drummer”.
Come Drink with Me Year: 1966 With: Cheng Pei-Pei, Yueh Hua, Ching Siu-Tung, Chang Hsi Genre: Action/Thriller
Hong Kong Rhapsody Year: 1968 With: Chen Hung-Lieh, Chin Ping, Lily Ho, Peter Chen-Ho Genre: Musical/Romance
A group of bandits kidnaps the son of a governor to demand the liberation of one of the members of the gang. It might be the most famous work by King Hu, sceened in Cannes and at the Hong Kong International Film Festival and it revolutionalised the wuxia genre because King Hu managed to gather many resources: A careful sense of rhythm, acrobatic elements and music and choreographies extracted from the Beijing Opera.
It is one of the most beautiful and well directed films by Umetsugu. A musical romance between comedy and drama, where Peter Chen plays the role of a playboy magician who will see how his life changes after becoming in charge of a young singer, the daughter of one of his magician colleagues who has just died. In the middle of all this, a millionaire old man also feels a paternal interest in the young woman.
A Touch of Zen Year: 1969 With: Bai Ying, Billy Chan, Roy Chiao, Chang Ping-Yu Genre: Action/Wuxia
We Love Millonaires Year: 1971 With: Barry Chan, Chen Yi-Ling, Chin Han-Hsieh, Chin Wen Genre: Musical/Romance
One of the most influential films of the history of Chinese cinema, considered one of the best films in Mandarin Chinese of all times. The story of a young artist who lives with his mother and meets a revolutionary followed by the army. Nominated to the Golden Palm at the Cannes Festival of 1995.
A young group of female shop keepers of Hong Kong search for a millionaire in order to have a good life. For this, they pretend they are upper class girls, while they dream about lives of luxury and romance. “How to marry a millionaire” in the Hong Kong style? Of course.
First Wave of Films of Hong Kong At the end of the 70â€™s and beginning of the 80â€™s, the large companies that until then had dominated the cinematographic panorama, such as Shaw Bros, began their decline. It coincides with the emergence of a new generation of young directors from the world of television that have another way of explaining things. The directors of this First Wave, especially, have one thing in common: They are rooted to the reality and their way of accounting it approaches documentaries or docudramas, showing everyday stories in a plain, simple, crude or even close way to social condemnation.
Tsui was born and brought up in Vietnam, in the turbulent years of violence and misery, what marks their vision of cinema. In 1966 he emigrated to Hong Kong when he was 14 and he got impregnated by the pop culture of the country, taking a plane later that would take him to Texas to study cinema. Eight years later he returns to Hong Kong and becomes part of the television empire of the powerful Shaw brothers. When, in the middle of the 80’s, cinema of Hong Kong leaves old films of martial arts behind and searches for new horizons, Tsui Hark is in charge of moving the basis of a cinematography that had hardly evolved in the last decade, renews the old more commercial genres and creates new ones from experiments and combinations of talents no one had ever believed in. His long career as a producer and director have touched all cinematographic genres: Television serials (“Gold Dagger Romance”), comedies (“Beijing Opera Blues”, “Shanghai Blues”, “Working Class”), martial arts (“Green Snake”, “Once upon a time in China”, “Swordsman”), thrillers and dramas (“Dangerous Encounter”), fantastic cinema (“A Chinese Ghost Story: The Tsui Hark Animation" A Chinese Ghost Story”) or wuxia (“Butterfly Murders”, “Zu”, “Warriors from the Magic Mountain”, “Seven Swords”).
Swordsman Year: 1990 With: Brigitte Lin, Jacky Cheung, Samuel Hui Genre: Wuxia/Acción “Swordsman” was Tsui Hark’s personal project thought to be directed by the veteran of the genre King Hu, but who was hardly able to complete a couple of sequences. Helped by colleagues of the New Wave (Ann Hui and Ching Siu-Tung among others), Hark could hardly finish the film on time, directing the main scenes himself, supervising the stylistic conception and giving cinema swords of a new conception never seen until then. When a role of papirum that contains various secrets about martial arts is stolen from the empire, he sends an army in search for them.
The Blade Year: 1995 With: Xiong Xin-Xin, Moses Chan, Valerie Chow Genre: Action/Drama “The Blade” is a version of the great “One-Armed Swordsman” by Chang Chen where Hark deepens into the art-house, with new visual effects. In a medieval, dirty and violent world, On goes on a search for revenge to kill the flying demon, expert in kung fu who killed his father. Epic, drama and a few concessions to the public. Time and Tide Year: 2000 With: Nichols Tse, Anthony Wong, Wu Bai, Candy Lo Genre: Thriller/Action/Drama An action film of avant-garde conception that risked so much in its form and content and was received with applauses by the critic and public. Nicholas Tse, Wu Bai and an excellent Anthony Wong starred the film, one of the most solid works of the director, despite his pseudo experimental character. A multi ethnical film and with a turning plot that faced the mafia and police of all nationalities.
Yim Ho is one of the most famous directors of Hong Kong of the 80’s, considered the leader of that New Wave or First Wave of film directors. He began directing television programs until he began his career as a film director in 1978 with “The Extras”. But his most acclaimed film by the critic would not arrive until 1984 with “Homecoming”, a film that was not ignored by anyone because it was one of the first ones in showing different feelings (likings and dislikings) in relations between continental China and Hong Kong.
Kitchen Year: 1997 With: Jordan Chan, Tomita Yasuko, Karen Mok, Law Kar-Ying Genre: Drama/Romance Based on the famous Japanese novel of the same title by Banana Yoshimoto, Ho makes is own and particular version, setting this time the characters in Hong Kong and in a certain way radicalizing them. This way, Jordan Chan is Louis, a hairdresser who lives with her transsexual mother. When a relative dies, they become in charge of Anggie who is emotionally touched and only sleeps in the kitchen. They will become a family until tragedy reappears in their lives. A West Lake Moment Year: 2004 With: Lim Ying, Chen Kun, Yan Xiang, Zhang Yue Genre: Comedy/Romance It is the last film made by Yim Ho. This time, the director leaves drama behind and turns to a romantic comedy so in fashion in current China: Zhou Xou works in a cafeteria and is deciding on her three pretenders. Modern relationships between girls and boys with many slapstick moments, but also from a realist point of view and a bit sharp of its director.
Ann Hui (born in the north of China and whose mother was Japanese) is one of the most representative film directors of Hong Kong. Belonging to the New Wave of Hong Kong (which appeared at the end of the seventies), defined by the film director Allen Fong as a “lucky generation”: Born after the war, in a period of cultural and economic outburst, fed with cinema (the only fun of the time) and the first to study cinema aborad (specifically in London) and and making the most of the development of television. And that was where Hui made her first steps as a director even though she had previously been impregnated by the master King Hu, with whom she worked as a director assistant. She now has a versatile life between performance, production, direction and cinematographic writing. Boat People Year: 1982 With: Andy Lau, George Lam, Jia Meiying, Season Ma Genre: Drama Even if Ann Hui debuted in cinema in 1979 she wasn’t paid attention until 1982 with “Boat People”, a tough film about running away in boats and the life of Vietnamese refugees and that would be responded to politically from certain sectors due to its negative vision of the communist regime of the neighbouring country. The third film that in certain way closes the trilogy about Vietnam, which begun with “From Vietnam” and continued with “The Story of Woo West”. As a curiosity I stand out the performance of a very young Andy Lau, his first film after a long television period. July Rhapsody Year: 2002 With: Anita Mui, Chacky Cheung, Lam Kar-Yan, Eric Ko Genre: Drama In 2002 Ann Lui returned to the melodrama genre. A teacher sees his marriage’s stability in danger when a young student falls in love with him. Doubtedly between desire and the will to be faithful to his partner, everything will change when his wife asks for time to look after a former teacher of both and her former lover. Eight nominations to the Hong Kong Film Awards in 2003. The Postmodern Life of my Aunt Year: 2006 With: Chow Yun-Fat, Siquin Gaowa, Zhao Wei Genre: Drama Aforelast film up to then by Ann Hui that introduces us into the life of a middle aged woman who lives in an apartment in Shanghai. We will soon discover many of the lies that sustain a life, hers, strange but happy. An unexpected encouter with a racketeer (Chow Yun-Fat) and with her daughter who she abandoned when she was a child will be the explosion of a particular return trip.
Second Wave of Cinema of Hong Kong As well as action cinema with shots and guns, at the end of the 80’s in Hong Kong a more personal and intimist cinema was also developed. A series of directors that had learnt the task of those of the First Wave of the 70’s (because they were their director assistants) and came from the world of television, they began to expose the reality from other angles and perspectives and began to formulate a more experimental and introspective cinema. We talk about directors such as Stanley Kwan, Wong Kar Wai, Lawrence Lau, Clara Law, Mabel Cheung or Jacob Cheung, among others. They are film directors that respond to social motivations and that care about showing what’s marginal, decadent, unpleasant. Chungking Express, Wong Kar-Wai (1994)
Clara LAW Clara Law, together with her colleague Mabel Cheung, represents the contribution she made as a woman to this Second Wave of directors of Hong Kong (a role that Ann Hui played in the First Wave). Born if Macao, Clara emigrated to Hong Kong when she was 10. Graduate in English Literature she began her career in television like the rest of her colleagues not seen because of the directors that marked the First Wave in the 70’s. After studying for three years in Great Britain, Law goes back to Hong Kong and debutes with the sweet and sour film “The Other Half and the Other Half”. From here on, one topic would centre all her works: Diaspora, migration, runaway, unstability and the feeling of despair and missing home from an unknown place. This is why her long films are full of people who travel, who abandon their origin to try and find a better future (“Farewell China”, “Autumn Moon”, “The Reincarnation of Golden Lotus”, “The Goddess of 1967”, “Floating Life”). The Reincarnation of Golden Lotus Year: 1989 With: Eric Tsang, Chan Lap-Ban, Ku Feng, Chiao Chiao Genre: Drama Curious erotic melodrama, which is the third film by the director where her hesitations are still seen behind the camera but with a line that approached her favourite topics: The supposed liberation of the characters of a past she subjugated. In this case, a speech of female liberation through the moving of an erotic novel of the Ming Dinasty to the China of the Cultural Revolution.
Farewell China Year: 1980 With: Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Hayley Man Genre: Drama “Farewell China” shows the darkest side of the migratory fact from the perspective of a young Chinese man who goes to New York to find his wife, exiled some time before. Her emotional trip through the streets of the Great Apple will end with the encounters of several compatriots that will show the different profiles of immigration. 54
Stanley Kwan was born in 1957 in Hong Kong. Before graduating in Communication Science, he began its career in television. His first film, “Women” in 1985, starred by Chow Yun-Fat received a great success. There, two features can be discovered in the filmography of this director and producer: His careful narrative style and characters lost in their own emotions, characters with an interior conflict that takes them to apathy (especially female characters). Other successes of the director: “Rouge”, “Full Moon in New York”, “Red Rose White Rose”, “Center Stage”, “Everlasting Regret Full Moon in New York Year: 1990 With: Sylvia Chang, Maggie Cheung, Josephine Koo Genre: Drama Lovely atmosphere for this film set in New York, where Stanley Kwan explores (like other times) the inside and the feelings of women: On this occasion a kind of crossroads of three women: A young Taiwanese actress not very stable in her relationships, a rich business woman but unstable in her sexuality and a woman who has just got married and has to adapt to her new Americal lifestyle. Rouge Year: 1997 With: Leslie Cheung, Anita Mui, Emili Chi, Kara Hui, Liu Chia-Yung Genre: Drama/Romance In the 30’s a couple of lovers whose impossible love story decides to commit suicide. But he does not fulfil his promose. Fifty years later, in current Hong Kong, the ghost of the betrayed girlfiend appears again. Existential negligence in this baptised as cult, even though it is because two dead actors appear such as Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung.
Laurence LAU He was born in South Africa in 1949, he studied in the USA and began as a director assistant for Tsui Hark in Hong Kong. Always motivated by the society of the time and its most marginal environments, Lau tends to place his characters in conflictive situations, especially young generations of Hong Kong confronted to social problems such as drugs, sex, love, abortion, prostitution, among others. He received his first success with “Gangs” in 1988, his debut, a crude and violent walk around the triads. Other works: “Queen of Temple Street”, “Lee Rock”, “Gimme Gimme”, “Besieged City”, “My Name Is Fame”, “City without Baseball”… Gangs Year: 1988 With: Ricky Ho, Lau Chi-Tat, Eleven Leung, Ma Hin-Ting Genre: Action/Thriller “Gangs”, the first film by Lawrence Lau was shot as a docudrama and is a crude portray of the Hong Kong youth. A youth without hope and suffocated in the environment of triads. My Name Is Fame Year: 2006 With: Lau Ching-Wan, Huo Siyang, Fruit Chan, Gordon Chan Genre: Comedy/Drama Under the appearance of an unoffensive comedy a melodramatic portray of the current world of shows in Hong Kong is hidden. The film accounts the decline of who was a great star and now plays roles of an inferior category and ends up being a bad quality actor agent. Lau Ching-Wan is spectacular and in the film we can also see many performances of actors, directors and producers that play themselves.
The Besieged City (Lawrence Lau, 2007)
Wong Kar-Wai says that a film is like a train trip that like other trips has an origin, stops and a destination. The natural mutation of this scheme, of this cause-effect relation, is the starting point from where his films arise. He ran away from Shanghai in 1963, in the Cultural Revolution, and began in the world of television within the production and script field. After working and being a freelance, not always accredited, for other people’s films, in 1988 he decided to go in front of the cameras and give life to his own script. From here “As Tears go by” is mentioned, a nontypical gangster thriller far from conventions in the style of John Woo and with an Andy Lau who is more like a poet in love that a killer. But Wong has always maintained throughout his filmography an extremely distant relationship with the structural paradigms of cinema of Hong Kong. He is a disciple of Antonioni and Godard and he does not follow the formulation of the traditional schemes of cinema of subject-verb-predicate and develops his own discourse that is liked or disliked in a radical manner. With Wong Kar-Wai there is no middle term.
Chungking Express Year: 1994 With: Brigitte Lin, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Faye Wong, Takeshi Kaneshiro Genre: Drama Wong Kar-Wai’s third film which gave an international dimension to the career of the director and where two stories are told in parallel. In this x-ray of the urban alienation of the contemporary person, the characteristics of his most personal cinema can be seen: The unstability of shots, the vibration of the camera and the framing leaps. It was the first film premiered in our country by this director.
Ashes of Time Year: 1994 With: Brigitte Lin, Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Jacky Cheung Genre: Drama/Wuxia “Ashes of Time” is the personal incursion in the wuxia genre by Wong Kar-Wai. The public of the moment, expecting action, is surprised to see a sophisticated and non-lineal film, comtemplative, intimist and sentimental. It involved a new defeat in ticket offices forcing the director to forget about genre cinema.
Ashes of Time (Wong Kar-Wai, 1994)
Happy Together Year: 1997 With: Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Leslie Cheung, Chang Chen Genre: Drama/Romance
In the Mood for Love Year: 2005 With: Maggie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Siu Ping-Lam Genre: Drama/Romance
Winner of the award to the Best Director at the Cannes Festival of 1997, “Happy Together” was the first film where KarWai made a great production shot between Taipei and Buenos Aires. “Happy Together” is a fascinating treaty about the crash of two bodies that search for happiness until they discover that the result of the clash is loneliness, unhappiness and harmony.
Li-Chun (her) and Chau (him) are deceited by their respective husband and wife. In their loneliness, they find the comprehension and stimulation to be faithful in each other, despite that the others are not. It is the second of the apparent trilogy made up with “Days of Being Wild” and “2046”, which explores the “topic” par excellence of the cinema of Wong Kar-Wai: The representation of time, like a subjective corner of self-reclusion, where human being is between a doubtful past and future, this is, a present where it is impossible to live.
Fruit CHAN Fruit Chan was born in 1959 in China, but when he was 10 he moved to Hong Kong. This fact, even though it was common among many film directors of the time, marked him deeply and from that moment he had a love-hatred relationship with the city that hosted him, which can be seen in his films. After studying at the Hong Kong Film Centre and working as a director assistant, Chen directed his first film in 1993, “Finale in Blood”, a psychodrama where the young director would come with his next film “Made in Hong Kong” (199) which received awards at international festivals and in his own country. From this moment he received many praises: “Hollywood-Hong Kong”, “Longest Summer”, “Little Cheung”, “Public Toilet”… and reached the film that was premiered in our sceens “Dumplings” (2004).
Dumplings (Fruit Chan, 2004)
Durian Durian Year: 2000 With: Qin Hailu, Mak Wai-Fan, Biao Xiao-Ming, Yung Wai-Yiu Genre: Drama “To earn a living in Hong Kong is very tough”: Says one of the characters of this film, a young woman from north China and who expected Hong Kong to give her a better life, ends up becoming a prostitute. Hong Kong is, in this case, like the durian fruit (with a bad smell and hard on the outside but sween inside): An extremely tough and cruel city that ends up trapping you when you live there.
Independent Cinema Also known as “independent realism of Hong Kong” appeared in the mid-end of the decade of the 90’s, independent cinema is made up of directors that are away from superproductions and great studios or producing companies and make their own, particular and experimental personal projects. They search for financing for their projects away from the commercial framework and their stories respond to a social critic, sometimes very ironic and under no moral law. The maximum exponent of this group of directors is Fruit Chan, among others such as Keneth Bi or Nelson Yu.
Kenneth Bi is son of two legendary stars of the studios of Shaw Bros: Ivy Ling-Po and Chin Han. He graduated with honours in cinema and drama at the University of Canada and when he went back to Hong Kong, his career hadn’t been limited to directing, and he had also been an actor, a composer, a writer and mounter of different films. He has made three films as a director: “A Small Miracle”, his debut, “Rice Rhapsody” and “The Drummer”.
Rice Rhapsody Year: 2000 With: Sylvia Chan, Martin Yan, Mélanie Laurent, Tan LePham Genre: Comedy/Drama
Sylvia Chan plays the role of a mother who has bred her three children. A strong mother who sees how her children upset her because they don’t fulfil her expectations, especially when she discovers their homosexuality. Acclaimed as one of the 10 best films of 2004-2005, “Rice Rapsody” deepens in a nice way into some of the topics of current Chinese societ: Homosexuality, social pressures towards a middle age woman and the difficult relationships of parents and children. 61
Derek KWOK He is one of the current young budding talent of cinema in Hong Kong. Derek Kwok begins his career as a scriptwriter in 2000 collaborating with the direction of the script “Skyline Cruisers” directed by Wilson Yip. But what has made him be on the spotlight of international critic has been his two works as a director: “The Pye-Dog” (2007) and “The Moss” (2008).
New Directors of cinema of Hong Kong The panorama in Hong Kong is constantly moving on. Its cinematographic history has shown us that when old formulas seem to old, the presence of new directors with new formalism and intentions injects its cinema with new features. On the other hand, and from the point of view of production, there will be a greater and greater presence of Panasian co-productions that aim at making profitable projects in a bigger market.
The Pye-Dog Year: 2007 With: Eason Chan, Lin Yuan, George Lam, Eric Tsang, Man Chun-Fai Genre: Drama/Thriller The friendship of a child and the caretaker of his school (who was really a gangster who had been ordered to kidnap him) is full of magic realism, able to mix a nice comedy with triad cinema. Without a doubt one of the essential films of this year made in Hong Kong.
Wong CHING-PO Wong began to work as a director assistant in television and was as an enthusiast of visual arts as well as directing videoclips and advertisements for television. He founded his own house of production and since then he has worked as a writer, art designer, composer, photography director and director of different films. In 2003, he co-directed his first success and his first independent film, “Fu Bo”, which is a film that went to many festivals and earned the respect of the industry. Mob Sister Year: 2005 With: Lawrence Cheng, Karena Lam, Anthony Wong, Alex Fong Genre: Drama/Thriller The daugther of a head of Hong Kong triads reaches the highest step of mafia when his father dies after being killed by an unknown killer. Problems will arrive when who was the killer and why he did it is discover. 63
Fung was born in Hong Kong, son of Julie Dek-Yin, a famous actress of the Shaw Brothers company. Brought up between Hong Kong and Michigan, where he studied graphic design, his career in cinema began when he was a teenager as an actor and like the rest of the icons of the new generation, their fame increased. As well as a successful career as a singer and afterwards in his participation directing the segment “My Beloved” in the choral film “Heroes in Love”, Fung debuted directing “Enter the Phoenix” in 2004 and received good critics followed by “House of Fury” in 2005 Heroes in Love Year: 1989 With: Charlene Choi, Gloria Cheng, Lawrence Chou Genre: Drama/Romance/Thriller “Heroes in Love” is an independent production made up of three segments with a unique topic in common, love, directed by new directors. The second fragment that could be the most solid of the three “My Beloved” is the one directed by two successful pop and film stars, Stephen Fung and Nicholas Tse.
If something defines Edmond Pang’s cinematographic identity it is his freshness when he approches genres. Within the panorama of cinema of Hong Kong, where the market is monopolized around comedy and action, the director manages to join both modalities in his films offering an unexpected, refreshing and crazy subversive cocktail. Men Suddenly in Black Year: 2003 With: Eric Tsang, Chapman To, Jordan Chan, Candy Lo Genre: Comedy/Drama Eric Tsang is a veteran of adultery and has recluted friends to play an orgiastic tribtute in the circuit of hostess bars. The greatest enemy of this battle: Their wives who are prepared to spoil their party. Edmond Pang shoots in a dary way mixing comedy and resources directly extracted from thrillers. Beyond our Ken Year: 2004 With: Chim Sui-Man, Gillian Chung, Daniel Wu, Emme Wong Genre: Drama “Beyond our Ken” is a film that with more richness and in a poliedric way has approached the complex universe of sentimental relationships. There, a former girlfriend of an attractive young man gets in touch with his new girlfriend to try to move her away from him. They will become friends while they progressively take off the masks that hide their true intentions.
House of Fury (Stephen Fung, 2005)
Beyond our Ken (Edmond Pang, 2004)
In Hong Kong there are a series of cinematographic genres of their own, this is, every one of them have intrinsic particularities of the country that make them different to all the characteristics in standards of conventional genres. They even have their own names: Heroic bloodshed, Cantonese comedy and noir or new black cinema from Hong Kong.
John WOO and Heroic Bloodshed Heroic bloodshed is a genre, within the thriller genre, genuinely from Hong Kong: They are violent films of police and gangsters, but their stars are heroes with rooted values of friendship, honour, fair revenge and royalty. Dramatic situations will check them out in amazing shooting scenes where a heroic bloodshed ends up happening. Unavoidally this genre is joined to the figure of John Woo and Chuw Yun-Fat: The first of whom worked as a director and the second as a fetiche actor. They both revolutionised the concept of action of the time giving life to this “new” genre with films such as “A Better Tomorrow”, “The Killer”, “Bullet in the Head” or “Once a Thief”. John Woo was born in 1946 in Guangzhou, China. At the age of 5 his family had to run away to Hong Kong due to the religious persecution that took place in China back then. Having gone through a hard childhood and teenager years and when he was only 20, Woo began to work in Cathay (main rival of Shaw Bros), after having made some experimental short films, to become in charge of the supervision of scripts. After Cathay centred its business in distribution, Woo became part of the team of Shaw, where he began to store up his main obsessions, mainly the use of the figure of masculin heories and the work of stylizing violence on the screen with the director Chang Cheh as an assistant. Crepuscular swordsplays, kung fu films, black comedy... Woo went through all these genres before he found his own: In 1986 he surprises people with “A Better Tomorrow” where heroic bloodshed was born, its relationship with his fetiche actor, Chow Yun-Fat, and a long list of successes (“A Better Tomorrow II”, “The Killer”, “Once a Thief”, “Hard-Boiled”…) before in 1993 he was seduced by Hollywood and began his career with films such as “Fist to Fist”, “Mission: Impossible II”, “Windtalkers”, etc. His expected return to Hong Kong was produced last year when he directed the superproduction “Red Cliff”.
A Better Tomorrow Year: 1986 With: Chow Yun-Fat, Leslie Cheung, Ti Lung, Emily Chu Genre: Action/Thriller With the director/producer Tsui Hark, John Woo who during the first half of the 80’s hadn’t been at all successful, he goes on an adventure with the project called “A Better Tomorrow” (1986), which would include the story of two brothers, a police and a criminal in a violent thriller environment. With this film, Woo revolutionized action cinema, giving it a dramatic sense, slow camera battles and a special style: Stylism (like sunglasses, etc.) the way of shooting, serve as an inspiration for action film makers from all over the world. The Killer Año: 1989 Con: Chow Yun-Fat, Danny Lee, Sally Yeh, Chu Kong Genre: Action/Thriller A cold and calculating killer will change his perspective when he makes a young person turn blind when he shoots him. From that moment his life changes, even though triads try to betray him and the police goes after him. “The Killer” meant a lot for the careers of the director and actor: For Fat who became the most famous actor of his generation, and for Woo with which he achieved the award to the best director at the Hong Kong Film Awards of the year.
and Comedy from Hong Kong
Stephen Chow revolutionized Cantonese comedy in the 90’s. He is the greatest comedian appeared in cinematography of Hong Kong, after the Hui brothers. Chow is a fan of Bruce Lee and combines in an unusual manner and with a specific personality humour gags and martial arts. His brand is a mixture of multi referential parodies, physical comedy and gesticulation and word games which are completely impossible to translate. A humour close to anime that explodes on the screen with all the sense resources the actor has. The explosion of Chow as an author, as the authentic owner of each one of the photograms of his films, with the absolute control of all the technical and artistic media is born with “God of Cookery” (1996).
King of Comedy Year: 1999 With: Stephen Chow, Ng Man Tat, Cecilia Cheung, Karen Mo Genre: Comedy In this hyper parody of the world of cinema, Stephen Crow mentions himself, plays with melodrama and gives one of the best roles to his unseparable Ng Man Tat. He manages to confirm his excellence as a comedian and as a director because he gives his characters more than a surrealist comedy side. Shaolin Soccer Year: 2001 With: Stephen Chow, Ng Man Tat, Vicky Zhao, Cecilia Cheung Genre: Comedy/Action The film that oppened Stephen Chow the doors to the world, even though in Spain it is still unknown. The author turns what's real into real, what's impossible into possible: A film about the world of football into a multicolour show. Football and martial arts in one film. Humour for all the public.
Kung Fu-Sion Year: 2004 With: Stephan Chow, Feng Xiaogang, Yuen Wah, Lam Suet Genre: Comedy/Action/ Fantasy
Sing is a thief that would like to turn into a gangster. When he tries to bribe the barber of a small neighbour community (that look simple and poor), he creates a confrontation between this community and the Ax Gang, a criminal group that controls the city. The neighbours that will have to reveal their true personalities, will struggle against the mafia turning the garden of the block of flats into an authentic battlefield. 70
Kung Fu hustle (Stephen Chow, 2004)
Reappearance of Black Cinema (Noir from Hong Kong) After the arm ballets by John Woo and the action cinema and Tsui Hark-s wuxia black cinema needed to be renewed, especially when many of these authors emigrated to the United States in search for the honey of Hollywood. It was then when the film makers subsequent to these (with whom they shared hours and hours in film libraries watching cinema from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean) came to his lap. Directors such as Andrew Lau, Alan Mak, Derek Yee, Wa Ka-Fai, Benny Chan or Johnnie To wished to put into practice what they had seen in long European author film sessions, western, Japanese classics... and especially black cinema, eastern or western. Two facts marked more or less defined dates for the arising of this â€œnew black cinemaâ€?: Unease and distrust produced by the return of Hong Kong to China (June 1997), and the creation by Johnnie To and Wa Ka-Fai of the producing company Milkyway that marked a guide line: Productions without a high budget but with a careful style of production, a Postmodern visual conception and a conception of thriller of pesimistic and dark atmosphere where characters were very complex psychologically.
Vengeance (Johnnie To, 2009)
After his way around Cannes with “Election” and receiving the award to the Best Director at the Sitges Festival 2004 with “Breaking News”, Johnnie To has his own place in the prizes of acknowledged authors of modern Asian cinema. From his debut in 1980, after having done all sorts of things in the absorbent Shaw Bros, To always knew that being an author acclaimed by the critic is not something that cannot take place if the public likes you. So, even though To has acknowledged the merit of being the leader of the new modernization of thriller of Hong Kong through his postcolonial vision, the fascinating world of cinema of the director of “Running on Karma”, “The Mission” or “Exiled”, he also goes through the versatility of genres (channeled through his producing company Milkyway Image) that go through comedy (“The Eight Happiness”), fantasy cinema (“Happy Ghost III”), drama (“The Story of my Son”), martial arts (“Bare Food Kid”), romance (“Turn Left, Turn Right”), etc. that has taken him to be number 1 in public in the country.
A Hero never Dies Year: 1998 With: Leon Lai, Lau Ching-Wan, Yo Yo Mung, Fiona Leung Genre: Thriller/Drama “A Hero Never Dies” is the first black cinema film made by To as a director that became a classic, even if it plays tribute to the couple John Woo and Tsui Hark. The film is centred in two gangsters that admire each other but must face each other when they work for two rival triads. Lau Ching-Wan with a cowboy hat and Leon Lai, an idol in Hong Kong are the two stars of this Eastern black film where loyalty to the end is the only food for the spirit.
Running out of Time Year: 1999 With: Andy Lau, Lau Ching-Wan, Lam Suet, Waise Lee, Yo Yo Mung Genre: Thriller 1999 was exceptional for Milkyway and associates, with the premiere of two of its best long black films, “Running Out of Time” and “The Mission”. In “Running out of Time” the most important part is not the direction of To, but a script that is completely different and original to the game of cat and dog: This time a policeman follows a thief that aims at taking revenge of the death of his dad. Two confronted men that must join efforts in the end. Spectacular Andy Lay and Lau Ching-Wan.
Election Year: 2005 With: Simon Yam, Tony Leung Ka Fai, Lam Suet, Louis Koo Genre: Thriller/Gangsters Like every two years, the eldest members of the most ancient triad of Hong Kong are prepared to choose a new leader. The leadership is at risk, and all the members seem to have certain interests in deciding on their vote. With a stylized staging and a studied plan, To turns “Election” into a sober and precise chronic about the internal working of the triad and its rivalry and violence. Election (Johnnie To, 2005)
Wilson YIP At the end of the eighties, when cinema of Hong Kong found new paths, a young enthusiast, lover of genre cinema, aimed at being part of the local competitive panorama. It was Wilson Yip and made his first steps as director assistant with Andy Ching (“Love among Triad”), who offered the possibility to direct his own film in 1995 (“01:00 A.M.”). His greatest challenge arrived in 1996 when he directed “Daze Raper”, a film in Category 3 (films for adults) that told the fall of a prison guard because of his contacts with organised crime. Yip showed how to give an authentic Hong Kong thriller his personal touch joining necessary truth to the psychological deepness of the character. And that was the beginning because in 5 years, Yip has gone from directing low budget films to approach millionaire projects. Part of his filmography is the following “Bio-Zombie”, “Bullets over Summer”, “Skyline Cruisers”, “Juliet in Love”, “S.P.L.”, “Dragon Tiger Gate” or the recent “Ip Man”. Bullets over Summer Year: 1999 With: Louis Koo, Francis Ng, Matt Chow, Tony Ho Genre: Thriller/Action “Bullets over Summer” was one of his succeses where he signs the script with his friend and collaborator, the actor Matt Chow. A buddy movie that brought together a strange pair of policemen in the guarding tasks in a house inhabitaned by a senile old woman that will mistake the police for her grandchildren. The relationship between these characters will start up a conventional thriller. The White Dragon Year: 2004 With: Cecilia Cheung, Francis Ng, Hui Chiu-Hung, Lei Liu Genre: Wuxia/Fantasy
He was born in Hong Kong in 1960 and he has always felt attracted by photography, a job that he still does in his films and other people's films (for example he was the photography director in the films by Wong Kar-Wai, “As Tears Go By” or “Chungking Express”). Like many others he joined the company Shaw Bros where he made his first steps until in 1990 he has the chance to direct his first film: “Against All”. However, where he achieved great fame was with his sague of young gangs “Young and Dangerous” (a sague of 6 films that lasts from 1996 to 1998) that revolutionized triad cinema and launched actors such as Eking Cheung or Jordan Chan. Lau is the person in charge of the beginning of the use of infography in an autoctonous genre such as wuxia (“A Man Called Hero”) and in the renewal of the gangster genre. In a period of crisis of ideas, due to the uncertainty of post-97, Lau opens the world to the doors of cinema to the former colony: The trilogy “Internal Affairs” places the destination in Hong Kong and redefines the figure of infiltrated in suspense cinema. Infernal Affairs Year: 2002 With: Andy Lau, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Anthony Wong, Eric Tsang Genre: Thriller Andy Lau and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai are the main characters of the double game of the film. Andy Lau is a gangster infiltrated as a policeman. Tonly Leung Chiu-Wai is a policeman infiltrated as a gangster. They both feel in no man's land and end up living in a state of confusion where his primary values are diluted and mistaken. As well as recovering the confidence of the local public and of the international markets in cinema of Hong Kong, the critic took the side of the film, as well as the Film Academy of Hong Kong whose award of the 22nd edition gave “Internal Affairs” as the best films, directors, scripts, secondary actor and montage. Years later Scorsesse won the Oscar for “Infiltrated”, a copy more than a remake of this film.
Yip likes playing with genres and did not forget wuxia. Set in the Ming Dinasty, a blind killer has to fulfil his mission: To finish with the demons of this world. Thanks to this film, Yip will pay a “pseudo tribute” to the Japanese blind sword fighter Zatoichi, in a comedy of martial arts with spectacular choreographies. 76
Derek YEE Born in 1957 in Hong Kong. Derek Yee is one of the most solid directors of the Hong Kong cinematographic panorama. There we will find a great part of the history of other directors of the former colony: Actor in the ancient house of production Shaw Bros, good producer and writer and prolific director that dares will all genres. Romantic comedies (“Drink, Drank, Drunk”), the most acid comedy with social reflection (“Viva Erotica”), the classic melodrama (“C’est la Vie, mon Cherie”) or the thriller make the most of its aesthetic sense and its precise rhythm, as well as a suitable atmosphere where chaacters move around in the city, Hong Kong, treated as another character. The stories are solid, sober and at the same time sarcastic. In his last two and wonderful thrillers (“One Night in Mongkok” and “Protect”) he reinvents and redefines the Hong Kong black cinema. One Nite in Mongkok Year: 2004 With: Cecilia Cheung, Alex Fong, Daniel Wu, Anson Leung Genre: Thriller/Drama Gangster gangs, police, killers, prostitutes and, especially, the city of Hong Kong and the neighbourhood of Mongkok, one of the most inhabited neighbourhoods of the world. Spectators will go down to hell with the characters of the film and will run, like the main characters, around alleys, around dark subworlds, around its claustrophobic corners... Characters that search for their own truth in an adverse context.
One Night in Mongkok (Derek Yee, 2004)
Joe Ma is a very well known person within the industry of cinema of Hong Kong, where he has worked for 20 years as a director, scriptwriter and producer. He began his career as a writer and is still writing the scripts of their own films and of other famous directors. After 5 years exclusively devoted to writing, in 1922 his career as a director begins with “Rich Man”, a film for adults about the relationship between three men called “wise”. From that moment until now, Joe Ma has directed, scripted and producer more than 30 films.
The Warlords (Peter Chan, 2007)
Other Directors and Producers
Embrace your Shadow Year: 2005 With: Chen Hung-Lieh, Chin Ping, Lily Ho, Peter Chen-Ho Genre: Drama/Romance A young 23 year old has to look after her brother of a inherited illness that does not let him move from his bed and after his small niece. Even though their situation is poor they survive as they can until a thief enters into their lives. “Embrace your Shadow” saves old topics of the filmography of the author: Love (in a couple, between brothers and sisters, parents and children, love for things, money…) in its darkest facets.
Embrace your Shadow (Joe Ma, 2005) Perhaps love (Peter Chan, 2005)
Peter Chan was born in Hong Kong, but soon his family moved to Thailand. After his teenage years, he went to the USA to study cinema in Los Angeles. He returned in the mid eighties to his hometown and began to work for directors such as John Woo, until in the beginning of the 90’s he created his own house of production, the famous UFO, where new, independent and innovative ideas would have place, far from the big studios. Peter Chan's filmography showed that there is a cinema in Hong Kong beyond action. As a director his particular vision of love is highlighted, which is trapped in nostalgia, and a style with a technique full of nuances. Chan understands cinema like a cross of cultures, of genres and of passions. A cosmopolitan vision that has taken him to approch his love stories from different genres and to collaborate with several countries in Panasian co productions.
Alan and Eric, between Hello and Goodbye Year: 1991 With: Maggie Cheung, Eric Tsang, Alan Tam, Michael Dingo Genre: Drama/Romance It was Chan's debut in direction and his first tragedy comedy. He projected his reflections but especially his conception of the melodrama. The plot evolves around two friends who meet after a long separation, and they fall in love with the same woman. The separation and reencounter are the origin of a melancholic bittersweet story where the formula of love triangle overlaps the detailed construction of the process of falling in love. Perhaps Love Year: 2005 With: Takeshi Kaneshiro, Zhou Xun, Jacky Cheung, Eric Tsang Genre: Musical/Drama “Perhaps Love” is a very plastic exercise that dives inside cinema in cinema. The love story between the actors and director of the film are parallel to the script they are shooting on the world of circus. The musical numbers (a mixture of style between “Moulin Rouge”and “Bollywood”) serve to allow spectators to be witnesses of the construction of a romance and a loss of memory of it. A beautiful and spectacular musical. The Warlords Year: 2007 With: Jet Li, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Andy Lau, Jinglei Xu Genre: Action/Epic Drama Peter Chan dares with everything and after the romantic melodramas, horror and musicals, he surprises us all with an epic film that recreates the rebellion of Taiping during the last Ping Dinasty, based on the story that inspired the film by Chang Cheh, “Blood Brothers”. A belic film of action that shows the greatness and splendour of the epic cinema of Hong Kong.
The Warlords (Peter Chan, 2007)
Second Wave Directors Spacked Out (Laurence Lau, 2000) Everlasting Regret (Stanley Kwan, 2005) Autumn Moon (Clara Law, 1992) As Tears Go by (Wong Kar-Wai, 1988) Fallen Angels (Wong Kar-Wai, 1995) 2046 (Wong Kar-Wai, 2004) Fruit Chan, maximum exponent of independent cinema Made in Hong Kong (1997) Hollywood Hong Kong (2001) Public Toilet (2002) New Directors
2046 (Wong Kar-Wai, 2004)
More films of the Cinema of Hong Kong available at Casa Asia Media Library
Fu Bo (Wong Ching-Po, 2003) You Shoot, I Shoot (Edmond Pang, 2001) Isabella (Edmond Pang, 2006) John Woo and Heroic Bloodshed” Bullet in the Head (1990) Hard-Boiled (1992) Black Cinema from Hong Kong
Classical Cinema Dragon Gate Inn (King Hu, 1967) King Drummer (Inoue Umetsugu, 1967) First Wave Directors Once Upon a Time in China I, II, III (Tsui Hark, 1991-93) The Chinese Feast (Tsui Hark, 1995) Time and Tide (Tsui Hark, 2000) The Legend of Zu (Tsui Hark, 2001) Seven Swords (Tsui Hark, 2005) Stuntwoman Ah Kam (Ann Hui, 1996) Eighteen Springs (Ann Hui, 1997) King of Chess (Yim Ho, 1991)
The Mission (Johnnie To, 1999) Running out of Time 2 (Johnnie To, 2001) Breaking News (Johnnie To, 2004) Skyline Cruisers (Wilson Yip, 2000) Lover of the Last Empress, 1995) Initial D (Andrew Lau, 2005) Viva Erotica (Derek Yee, 1996) Protégé (Derek Yee, 2007) Peter Chan and Joe Ma Who’s the Woman, Who’s the Man (Peter Chan, 1996) Feel 100% (Joe Ma, 2001) Summer Breeze of Love (Joe Ma, 2002).