The Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA)'s "100 Must-See Hong Kong Movies" series has seen an enthusiastic response since it was launched in October last year. The screenings have generated discussion of the films and, in general, Hong Kong film heritage. The new year has ushered in the second cycle of the programme, presenting films from January to March with themes on undercover cops, crazy comedy and mother-son relationships.
Moreover, the programme is being extended to Kowloon. Starting in February, an additional screening of each film from "100 Must-See Hong Kong Movies" will be presented at Broadway Cinematheque. Films will generally be screened at the HKFA on the first and third Saturdays of each month, and on the second and fourth Sundays at Broadway Cinematheque.
The two films to be shown in January are stories about undercover cops. Director Alex Cheung's award-winning film "Man on the Brink" (1981) will be shown on January 14 and 18 while director Ringo Lam's "City on Fire" (1987), starring Chow Yun-fat and Danny Lee, will be screened on January 28 and February 1. Director Chun Kim's comedy "Let's Be Happy" (1959) will be screened on January 28 as a reference film.
The undercover cop is one of the most important figures in Hong Kong cinema, and New Wave director Alex Cheung's "Man on the Brink" started it all with its title character. The film creates a compelling hero played with fierce intensity by Eddie Chan. Caught between two worlds and leading a double life, the undercover cop has become a mythical character that embodies all the pride and anxiety of Hong Kong. The film won four Golden Horse Awards for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay and Best Actor. Alex Cheung will meet the audience after the screening on January 14.
"City on Fire" was largely responsible for taking the subgenre to a higher level with Chow Yun-fat playing a cop who's torn between fulfilling his duty and betraying his friend, a gang boss played by Danny Lee. The film won Best Director for Ringo Lam and Best Actor for Chow at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 1988. Film critic Ka Ming will host the post-screening talk on January 28.
Going undercover doesn't always have to be macho and violent - it can be funny too. In the reference film "Let's Be Happy", Woo Fung plays the son of a rich family who decides to go undercover in his factory to learn the trade from the bottom up. The film is also an odd-couple film with Patrick Tse as a "city bumpkin" giving advice to the naïve and sweetly urbane Woo. Like the stealth agents in "Man on the Brink" and "City on Fire", the undercover boss ends up taking on characteristics connected with the domain in which he has disguised himself, becoming more sympathetic to the workers in his factory, not to mention winning the heart of one of his beautiful employees.
Two comedies will be shown in February. Director Chor Yuen's "The Pregnant Maiden" (1968) starring Connie Chan and Lui Kay will be screened on February 4 and 12 and director Jeff Lau's "92 The Legendary la Rose Noire" (1992), starring Tony Leung, Fung Bo-bo and Wong Wan-sze will be shown on February 18 and 26.
"The Pregnant Maiden" is a rarity of Cantonese cinema - a screwball comedy that leaves behind all the serious pretensions of earlier Cantonese cinema, instead frolicking with abandon in Hong Kong's new-found prosperity and emerging urbanity. No more anti-feudalism rage and no more artistic idealism - just simple fun. The film offers biting satire that mocks various institutions and topics, from parenthood to virginity to friendship to love to family honour. Television personality and writer Lam Chiu-wing and Connie Chan will meet the audience after the screenings on February 4 and 12 respectively.
"92 The Legendary la Rose Noire" was not only a surprise hit when it was released but also a phenomenon that defined its time. The film's irreverent drama and director Jeff Lau's genius in taking the audience's imagination through time and space capture the spirit of Hong Kong in the early 1990s and the people's ambivalence toward the past. The impressive performances of Tony Leung and Teresa Mo have been highly acclaimed. Director Jeff Lau will meet the audience after both screenings.
Stories of mother-son relationships will be featured in March. Director Tso Kea's "Motherhood" (1960), starring Wong Man-lei and Cheung Ying, will be shown on March 3 and 11. Director Wong Kar-wai's "Days of Being Wild" (1990), starring Leslie Cheung, Maggie Cheung, Carina Lau, Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung, Tony Leung and Rebecca Pan, will be screened on March 17 and 25.
"Motherhood" is an adaptation of Henrik Ibsen's sensational play "Ghosts", boldly presenting a cast of psychologically troubled characters. The mother played by Wong Man-lei is not the meek, sacrificing figure so readily sanctified by Cantonese films. By turns caring and scheming, indulgent and clueless, bitter and cruel, she is a flawed but full-fledged human being. Critic Mary Wong and the Programmer of the HKFA, Sam Ho, will host the post-screening talks on March 3 and 11 respectively.
The mother complex continues to haunt, 30 years after "Motherhood", in Wong Kar-wai's "Days of Being Wild". Leslie Cheung likens himself to a bird with no feet, a condition he personifies in his ways with women. His state of mind exemplifies a general obsession with time, best embodied by the pickup move of asking a girl (Maggie Cheung) to spend with him the minute before 3pm on April 16, 1960, a minute that goes on to tick forever in the audience's memory. Film critic Longtin Shum will host the post-screening talk on March 17, and actress Rebecca Pan will meet the audience after the screening on March 25.
The 100 films, which include silent movies, documentaries with historical significance, films of different political views, studio works and independent films, represent Hong Kong cinema from 1916 to 1999. They have been chosen by the HKFA and a panel of experts well-versed in the history of Hong Kong cinema. The panellists are the renowned writers and researchers Mr Law Kar and Ms Wong Ain-ling; the Dean of the School of Film and Television of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Mr Shu Kei; the Artistic Director of the Hong Kong International Film Festival, Mr Li Cheuk-to; the HKFA's Programmer, Mr Sam Ho; and the HKFA's Research Officer, Mr Po Fung.
All screenings except "Let's Be Happy" are in Cantonese with Chinese and English subtitles.
Tickets for the screenings in January and February are now available while tickets for screenings in March will be available from February 3.
Tickets for screenings at the HKFA are priced at $40 and are available at URBTIX outlets. Half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Credit card bookings can be made on 2111 5999 or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk.
Tickets for screenings at Broadway Cinematheque are priced at $55 and are available at Broadway Cinematheque and its website. Tickets priced at $40 are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, full-time students and children aged 11 or below. Discount of 20 per cent is offered to Broadway Cinematheque VIP members. Phone ticketing can be made on 2388 3188 or on the Internet at www.cinema.com.hk.
Detailed programme information can be found in leaflets distributed at all performing arts venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and at Broadway Cinematheque. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900, or browse the webpage at www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2011ms100/2011ms100_index.html.
Ends/Thursday, January 5, 2012
A film still from "Man on the Brink" (1981).
A film still from "City on Fire" (1987).
A film still from "The Pregnant Maiden" (1968).
A film still from "92 The Legendary la Rose Noire" (1992).
A film still from "Motherhood" (1960).
A film still from "Days of Being Wild" (1990).