Chinese New Year films have always been marked by a comic dimension, with joyous mise-en-scène and a feel-good atmosphere. To celebrate the Year of the Dragon, the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) will screen five Chinese New Year comedies from the 1960s to the 1980s for families and friends to enjoy together the magic of moving images. Starring Lam Kar-sing, Fung Wong-nui, Nam Hung, Leung Sing-po, Sam Hui, Karl Maka, Sylvia Chang, Bill Tung and Lydia Sum, the films showcase different comic journeys involving dreams, money, treasure and love, as well as happy endings to celebrate the festive occasion.
"Celebrating Chinese New Year" will be shown from January 28 to February 5 at the Cinema of the HKFA. The selected films are the imperial-court drama "Prince's Lovers" (1964); the hilarious comedy "Hire a Husband" (1965); "Foolish to be Wise" (1966), featuring a fake love match; the urban action-comedy "Aces Go Places" (1982); and the heart-warming comedy "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1987). The programme is guest curated by Dr Fiona Law.
To complement the screenings, a seminar entitled "Chinese New Year Films as a Genre" will be held at 4pm on February 4 at the Cinema of the HKFA. Dr Law and the programmer of the HKFA, Mr Sam Ho, will be the speakers. The seminar will be conducted in Cantonese. Admission is free.
The course of true love never runs smooth. In "Prince's Lovers", the prince charming played by Lam Kar-sing ventures outside the palace to search for his princess with his loyal eunuch, played by Leung Sing-po. His heart is captured by the beautiful and talented Fung Wong-nui, who nonetheless treats him as rogue. Romantic encounters, literary contests and cross-dressing hoaxes ensue, staged through a series of dazzling Cantonese opera set pieces, leading to an unavoidable happy ending.
"Hire a Husband" is jam-packed with mischievous dialogue and a mirthful play of jokes and lies. Cheung Ying-choi is a hungry writer whose rent is paid by his kind-hearted neighbour, played by Nam Hung. To return the favour, Cheung agrees to be Nam's "hired husband" so that she can please her billionaire father and become his sole heiress. However being a fake husband is never an easy job since the man cannot have his own room, not to mention his having to deal with the suspicious stares of a wicked cousin played by Mak Kay and a maid (Lee Hong-kum) who has her own agenda.
When a jokester's doppelgänger comes back for a reunion, doubly clumsy farce is guaranteed. In "Foolish to be Wise", to ensure the reunion of twins played by the great comedian Leung Sing-po after they have broken off for 20 years, four youngsters are forced to continue their fake love match, resulting in a bedroom farce of partner-swapping and nervous laughter.
The action-comedy "Aces Go Places" is one of the blockbusters of the 1980s. After an opening action sequence that is impressively grand, the rest of the film is punctuated in calculated intervals with funny lies and zany situations. The Royal Hong Kong Police seeks help from the Chinese-American bald-headed detective Karl Maka to recover diamonds stolen by a jewel thief played by Sam Hui. Apart from facing the witty thief, the bald investigator has to face another challenge: a temperamental policewoman (Sylvia Chang) in bad need of love.
A festive comedy directed by Clifton Ko, "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World" features the good old days of the late 1980s when everyday life in public housing estates could be at once intimate and hilarious. Uncle Bill Tung may be the head of the family, but he has been living under pressure from the women around him - from his wife, played by Lydia Sum, and daughters at home to the lady boss at work. Winning a lottery may not change the world, but a mad, mad world can be created by the fantasy of sudden wealth.
The films are in Cantonese. "Aces Go Places" and "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World" have Chinese and English subtitles.
Tickets priced at $30 are available at all 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.
Detailed programme information can be found in "ProFolio 61", distributed at all performing venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900, or browse the webpage at www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2012cny/2012cny_index.html.
Ends/Friday, January 20, 2012
A film still from "Prince's Lovers" (1964).
A film still from "Hire a Husband" (1965).
A film still from "Foolish to be Wise" (1966).
A film still from "Aces Go Places" (1982).
A film still from "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World" (1987).