The Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA)'s "100 Must-See Hong Kong Movies" series has been met with an enthusiastic response since it was launched. For screenings scheduled in April, May and June, six films representing three different themes will be shown.
April is a month of film activities. Among them is the HKFA's thematic retrospective, "Once Upon a Hero: The Wong Fei-hung Saga". To echo the theme, the "100 Must-See Hong Kong Movies" series will screen two films about the legendary martial artist Wong Fei-hung in his youth. Director Yuen Woo-ping's "Drunken Master" (1978), starring Jackie Chan, will be shown on April 7 and 15, while director Lau Kar-leung's "Martial Club" (1981), starring Gordon Liu and Kara Hui, will be screened on April 21 and 29.
Yuen Woo-ping's "Drunken Master" is a legend in its own right. Its immense popularity consolidated Jackie Chan's superstardom both locally and globally. The film was one of the first films to depict Master Wong in his youth, and reinvigorated the long-running series of Wong Fei-hung films with exuberance. With his mastery of storytelling and action choreography, the director anchored the newly emerging subgenre of kung fu comedy with style and reverence, sending martial arts cinema into a state of intoxicated ecstasy with the spirited staging of the drunken fist technique. Film critics Thomas Shin and Matthew Cheng will host the post-screening talks on April 7 and 15 respectively.
Director Lau Kar-leung's "Martial Club" is a work of balance. A story of the legendary figure Wong Fei-hung in his youth (played by Gordon Liu), the film shows the making of a master in his learning to temper the violent and ego-inflating nature of fighting skills with the martial code of hard work, humility and integrity. The director skilfully moderates this manifesto with film's mandate to entertain, staging Wong's coming of age with beautifully choreographed action that heads towards a final showdown shot with gravitas. Actress Kara Hui will meet the audience after the screening on April 21, and the Research Officer of the HKFA, Po Fung, will host the post-screening talk on April 29.
Two films expressing divergent sides of Hong Kong views towards China in the 1970s and '80s, will be shown in May. Director Tong Shu-shuen's "China Behind" (1974) will be screened on May 5 and 13, and director Yim Ho's film "Homecoming" (1984), which won six awards at the Hong Kong Film Awards, will be shown on May 19 and 27.
"China Behind" is a rare Hong Kong classic that expresses a sharp opinion about the Mainland. Made at a time when the Cultural Revolution was still under way, the film tells the story of several college students who try to flee during the devastating event's early years. The film was so ahead of its time that it was banned until the 1980s. Film critics Leung Man-tao and Ernest Chan will host the post-screening talks on May 5 and 13 respectively.
"Homecoming", like "China Behind", features views that are steadfastly personal and yet expressive of thoughts that are powerfully collective. It follows the story of a woman, played by Josephine Koo, who returns to her Guangdong village to escape the Hong Kong pressure cooker, rekindling friendships with Tse Wai-hung and his wife, Siqin Gaowa, and reigniting long-exhausted romantic feelings in the peaceful, pastoral air. The Mainland in this film is a land of roots and affections. The beautiful score by Kitaro and the agreeable theme song, sung by the late Anita Mui, have gained the film great popularity. Film critic Joyce Yang and the Programmer of the HKFA, Sam Ho, will host the post-screening talk on May 19. Director Yim Ho will meet the audience after the screening on May 27.
Stories with different views on capitalism will be featured in June. Director Ng Wui's "Money" (1959), starring Cheung Ying, Pak Yin, Cheung Wood-yau and Ng Cho-fan, will be shown on June 2 and 10. Director Wong Jing's "God of Gamblers" (1989), starring Chow Yun-fat and Andy Lau, will be screened on June 16 and 24.
The clash between the free-market economy and Confucian traditions is one of the defining aspects of modern China, often expressed in popular culture as scorn for the shortfalls of capitalism. "Money", a delicious comedy from Union Film, traces the journey of a bag of cash from a bank robbery. The humour switches between the witty and the absurd, offering a biting examination of human nature when men and women are confronted with the chance of unearned wealth. Film critics Lau Yam and Jack Ng will host the post-screening talks on June 2 and 10 respectively.
Free-market capitalism enjoyed a complete turnaround in public perception in the late 1980s. Not only was unearned wealth no longer disdained; the urge for it was openly expressed. Gambling, with its added dimensions of risk, globetrotting glamour and luxurious trappings like casinos and tuxedos, lends itself naturally to film. Wong Jing's "God of Gamblers" at once celebrates this attitude towards money and seeks reprieve from it. Film critic Lam Kam-po will host the post-screening talk after the screening on June 24.
Films in the "100 Must-See Hong Kong Movies" series will be screened at the HKFA and Broadway Cinematheque.
"China Behind" is in Mandarin while all other screenings are in Cantonese. All films have Chinese and English subtitles.
Tickets for the screenings in April are now available while tickets for screenings in May and June will be available from April 5 and May 2 respectively.
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. There is a 20 per cent discount for 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/Monday, March 19, 2012
A film still from "Martial Club" (1981).
A film still from "China Behind" (1974).
A film still from "Homecoming" (1984).
A film still from "God of Gamblers" (1989).