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The Making of Martial Arts Films - As Told by Filmmakers and Stars


Veteran film stars are inevitably involved in the tightly-knit realm of love and hate in the movie world. Movie talks of the yesteryears are realisation of their recollections spanning generations and years.

This exhibition, titled 'The Making of Martial Arts Films – As Told by Filmmakers and Stars' basing on oral history recordings, contains two levels of significance. First, it is the reappearance of many veterans of our film industry to relate their memories; and second, it retrospects on the development of martial arts films through extracts of video interviews whereby veterans speak about the martial arts genre and the pictures.

The veterans that the Hong Kong Film Archive has managed to interview span from Chin Tsi-ang, Hong Kong's first lady martial arts star (the grandmother of Sammo Hung), to Michelle Yeoh, who has now carried her fame and talent into Hollywood. Among them are prominent stars and directors who have long retired as well as those up-and-coming talents still working in the industry.

Directors Wu Pang and Ling Wan are among the veterans interviewed. Wu has famous for his Wong Fei-hung kung fu series, while Ling Wan was a director of the fantasy strand of martial arts pictures. Those who follow their footsteps in creating one fad after another include Tsui Hark, Ching Siu-tung, Andrew Lau, who have brought the martial arts genre into the area of high technology and modern special effects. Apart from the video interviews of all these personalities, the exhibition will also show clips of relevant films.

In preparing the exhibition, we have also searched for information on martial arts directors, such as Lau Kar-leung, Tong Kai, Tung Wai, Chan Siu-pang, etc. They speak of their early years, how they learned the martial arts, how they entered the film industry, and of the way they devised action scenes and weapons. Each combat scene represents an achievement in our film production industry; each story told an invaluable historical record.

The exhibition consists of four thematic specials: Zone One introduces the evolution of Hong Kong martial arts and kung fu films. Personas and images of martial arts heroes and heroines as well as the villains will be presented in Zone Two. Zone Three maps out the origin of martial arts direction and depicts scenes of some classical combats. Zone Four takes us to meet renowned martial arts directors who speak of their yesteryears and evaluate Hong Kong martial arts films.

The Film Archive's Oral History Project is now in its fifth year. Over 150 personalities of the Hong Kong cinema have been interviewed so far. Their recollections, which include personal anecdotes, are a vital source of research into the history of Hong Kong cinema. The importance of these personalised interviews lies in its emotional content, which in turn enriches the primary source for further researches. The Oral History Project has been met with enormous support, with interviewees spanning from some of the best veterans of Hong Kong cinema such as director Kwan Man-ching and actress Li Lihua, to those artists now residing in the US. Besides interviews conducted by the Archive, this exhibition has also incorporated interview extracts conducted by other publishing and mass media organisations.

To put together these interviews and to focus them on a theme or phenomenon is a more comprehensive way of looking at history. The added incentive of capturing these images and the celebrities' gestures and voices in a new preservation technology will make the whole exercise a more personal one to the viewer.

Other features in the exhibition include film clips, a push-button soundtrack selection booth, and a film screening room which will show several martial arts pictures.

Hong Kong Film Archive



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