The Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA)'s "Morning Matinee" series in February will show four films with the word "dragon" in their Chinese titles to celebrate the Year of the Dragon, followed by a retrospective in March to commemorate the versatile actress Feng Lin, who played a wide variety of roles with dedication.
"Celebrating Year of the Dragon" will be held on February 3, 10, 17 and 24 at the Cinema of the HKFA. Films to be shown are "Sing Her a Love Song" (1955) starring Sun Ma Si-tsang, Yam Kim-fai and Pak Suet-sin; the musical comedy "Springtime Lovers" (1959), with Mui Yee playing a wealthy daughter and a servant; Jackie Chan's kung fu comedy "Dragon Lord" (1982); and "Dance with the Dragon" (1991), starring Andy Lau, Cheung Man and Deanie Ip.
In the city comedy "Sing Her a Love Song", Sun Ma Si-tsang and Yam Kim-fai are best pals and Yam and her favourite partner Pak Suet-sin are paired as lovers. Misunderstanding arises between the lovers when they fall into a fraud. "Springtime Lovers" is a musical comedy adapted from the Beijing opera "Flower Field Mistake". The romance between Sun Ma Si-tsang and Mui Yee is threatened by the intervention of a local thug, leading the man to pose as a bride to fool the bully. Mui displays her formidable comic prowess in the film.
"Dragon Lord" marked an important chapter in Jackie Chan's storied career, and its elaborately staged action feats represent a transition from his early kung fu comedies to more stunt-oriented work. The film features several spectacular set pieces, including an amazing shuttlecock game and a breathtaking bun-pyramid scene at the beginning. "Dance with the Dragon", starring Andy Lau, Cheung Man and Deanie Ip, is a Cinderella story of a poor girl landing a rich man. The film features upscale scenes in a ballroom as well as downscale moments in rural Hong Kong. Ip won the Best Supporting Actress prize in the 11th Hong Kong Film Awards for her performance in the film.
Feng Lin (1925-2010) was a versatile actress. From opportunistic landlady to bullying dancehall girl to kind old lady to even a male scholar in an opera film, her roles demonstrated her skills and dedication, winning her a reputation as one of the best character actors of Mandarin cinema. Born in Tianjin, Feng was active on the Shanghai stage. She came to Hong Kong after the war and later joined the Feng Huang studio in 1952. Late in her career, she appeared in the British film "Ping Pong" (1987), delivering her lines in fluent English. Her last film, "Sour Sweet" (1988), is also set in England.
To commemorate this multi-talented actress, the "Morning Matinee" programme "Remembering Feng Lin" will show her different characters in films, starting with her first film role in "A Forgotten Wife" (1950). Audiences can also see her as a mean-spirited bully dancer in "Between Fire and Water" (1955), a physical education teacher in "Apartment for Women" (1956), a rapacious stepmother in "Wild Rose" (1959), and a cross-dressing scholar in "Bride Hunter" (1960). The films will be shown on March 2, 9, 16, 23 and 30 respectively.
"A Forgotten Wife" is the story of a labourer who journeys to Thailand for work, only to abandon his wife to marry the daughter of a rich family and later become a collaborator in the Japanese occupation. Feng plays the rich daughter and puts her natural talents on ample display in her screen debut.
The partitioned tenement lends itself to cinema. In "Between Fire and Water", 17 characters from eight families are living under the same roof and tussling over water and fire. Feng plays a taxi dancer, capturing her character as both a mean-spirited bully and a hurt, lonely soul who cries in her room. "Apartment for Women" presents the tenement story in an all-female setting, offering compelling drama as tenants clash and bond. Feng plays a physical education teacher who dresses like a man, complete with greased and parted hair, a cane and a smoking pipe.
The comedy "Wild Rose" generates much laughter by parodying the greed of common folk and the heartlessness of the wealthy. Feng puts her comic prowess on display, playing the rapacious stepmother with all the caricature the character demands. "Bride Hunter" is based on a famous work of Shaoxing opera, an art form that traditionally features all-female casts. Feng glued on a moustache to cross-dress as a scholar and, along with the rest of the cast, including Hsia Moon and Yu Wanfei, went on months of training with the famed Shaoxing opera artists Qi Yaxian and Bi Chunfang.
All films in February are in Cantonese. "Dragon Lord" and "Dance with the Dragon" have Chinese and English subtitles. Films in March are without English subtitles. "A Forgotten Wife", "Apartment for Women" and "Wild Rose" are in Mandarin; "Between Fire and Water" is dubbed in Cantonese; and "Bride Hunter" is in Yue dialect with Chinese subtitles.
Tickets for the screenings in February are available now at URBTIX outlets while tickets for the screenings in March will be available from February 2. Tickets are priced at $20. Half-price 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 at 2111 5999 or on the Internet at www.urbtix.hk .
Detailed programme information can be obtained in "ProFolio 61" distributed at all performance venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department. For enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900 or browse the website at www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2011mm/2011mm_film.html .
Ends/Thursday, January 26, 2012
A film still from "Sing Her a Love Song" (1955).
A film still from "Springtime Lovers" (1959).
A film still from "Between Fire and Water" (1955).
A film still from "Apartment for Women" (1956).
A film still from "Wild Rose" (1959).
A film still from "Bride Hunter" (1960).