"Fist of Fury", "The Way of the Dragon", "The Young Master", "The Private Eyes", "Encounter of the Spooky Kind", "I Am Sorry", "Princess Chang Ping", "Plain Jane to the Rescue" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" are just a few of the famous works by Golden Harvest, which rose in the 1970s. From its birth to the time it was the main pillar of the film industry, the studio had the flexibility to move with changing times. Within 30 years, it produced and financed over 600 films in multiple genres, and its success has been attributed greatly to the company's boldness and strategic planning, with a vision to stretch to the global market. Its flexible mode of operation to outsource production invited talents and nurtured many world famous superstars and directors. There is no doubt that Golden Harvest played a determining role in the 1980s golden age of Hong Kong cinema.
As a contribution to the 37th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF), the Hong Kong Film Archive (HKFA) has organised a retrospective, "The Cinematic Matrix of Golden Harvest", to showcase 63 of the studio's films in different genres alongside a special exhibition, a research publication and a series of seminars for an overview of the studio's glory.
With the assistance of Fortune Star Media Limited (Fortune Star), the HKFA has been able to access 58 of Golden Harvest's films, with 40 of them having been converted from digitally remastered copies into DCP. Fortune Star has also agreed to the long-term preservation of these screening prints at the HKFA. Seventeen of the titles in the retrospective will be shown in part one during the HKIFF from March 22 to April 1, while the second phase of screenings will show 58 films from April 4 to June 30. All of these screenings will be held at the Cinema of the HKFA, and tickets are now available at URBTIX outlets.
While striving to preserve film prints in celluloid originals, the HKFA has also made a big move to keep pace with digital technology. The digitalisation of archival holdings has made storage and access easier. The HKFA's cinema has also been enhanced with DCI-compliant facilities, including a computer server and projection equipment that can play digital files of up to 4K resolution (4,096 pixels of horizontal resolution) enabling the HKFA to showcase DCP digital prints, especially restored classics that are only available in DCP format. "The Cinematic Matrix of Golden Harvest" will be the archive's first attempt to screen some of the DCP prints.
The films to be screened during the HKIFF include films featuring Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung such as the opening film "The Way of the Dragon" (1972), "The Big Boss" (1971), "Fist of Fury" (1972), "Enter the Dragon" (1973), "The Young Master" (1980) and "Encounter of the Spooky Kind" (1980). Also screening is "The Invincible Eight" (1971), one of the first Golden Harvest martial-arts productions; "Hap Ki Do" (1972), featuring Korean martial arts; "Beach of the War Gods" (1973), directed by superstar Jimmy Wang Yu; and "The Himalayan" (1976), which is an overlooked martial arts gem from the 1970s. The first round of screenings also include John Woo's early wuxia film "Last Hurrah for Chivalry" (1979) and his comedy "The Pilferers' Progress" (1977), as well as cutting-edge films from young visionary filmmakers such as Patrick Tam's "The Sword" (1980), Tony Ching Siu-tung's "Duel to the Death" (1983), Tony Au's "I Am Sorry" (1989), Anthony Chan's "A Fishy Story" (1989) and "A Queen's Ransom" (1976), a unique and daring gangster work from director Ting Shan-hsi.
Golden Harvest was founded in the 1970s during the period of pivotal transitions in Hong Kong cinema. Its founders, Raymond Chow and Leonard Ho, had a keen eye for potential talent and allowed great flexibility in their film financial model. In addition to allowing a great degree of creative freedom, the duo took Hong Kong cinema to the world with their global distribution. Golden Harvest covered an assortment of genres ranging from action and comedy to artistic films. Its operation model enabled many renowned directors like John Woo, Tsui Hark, Ann Hui, Sammo Hung and Stanley Kwan to produce creative works under its auspices.
From genre to talent, the beginning of Golden Harvest had a heavy taste of the Shaw Brothers studio legacy as the early key directors such as Lo Wei and Zhu Mu were southbound filmmakers who moved to Hong Kong after the war. The rise of young, post-war local directors such as Michael Hui, John Woo, Sammo Hung and Jackie Chan in Golden Harvest brought significant changes to the face of Hong Kong film, especially in making the Cantonese dialect a standout feature with lively and absurd slang in comedic kung fu films and other comedies. The positive values in the new-generation films also changed to focus on individual abilities and successes. In Bruce Lee's humorous "The Way of the Dragon", this is seen in the simple country boy who is later respected for his incredible power in saving a restaurant. The flexibility in adapting to the market and hiring talent led Golden Harvest to bring on a monumental transformation in the creative backbone as well as social perceptions in Hong Kong cinema.
The retrospective will examine Golden Harvest's three major development strategies: ingenuity as the result of careful long-term planning, its international visions, and creative endeavours in a wide range of genres. The screenings will be presented in six categories with early directorial works from Jimmy Wang Yu, Huang Feng, John Woo and Michael Hui, as well as cutting-edge films made by young visionary filmmakers in the 1980s and 1990s.
These six chapters include the sections "The Legend of the Dragons", featuring martial arts films of Bruce Lee, Sammo Hung, Jimmy Wang Yu and Jackie Chan; "Action Rejuvenated", which showcases a number of classic action movies; "Comedic Schemes", a selection of comedies covering a variety of themes, styles and treatments; and "Talents Abound", displaying an assortment of works in different genres including John Woo's Cantonese opera movie "Princess Chang Ping" (1976), Patrick Tam's first film "The Sword", Tony Ching Siu-tung's directorial debut "Duel to the Death", Mabel Cheung's "The Soong Sisters" (1997) and Ann Hui's "Summer Snow" (1995). In the "Dare to Differ" section, works that were daring and unique and strived to be different will be featured.
Golden Harvest has always had the ambition to open up overseas markets and to learn from Hollywood experience, and it produced around 20 Western films. The "Global Visions" section features a number of Golden Harvest works which were produced by Western filmmakers, including "High Road to China" (1983); the globally popular film "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (1990); the war film "Boys in Company C" (1978); "Battle Creek Brawl" (1980), with Jackie Chan making his first attempt at the US market; and "The Cannonball Run" (1981).
To complement the screenings, an exhibition entitled "Golden Harvest: A Landmark in Hong Kong Cinema" will be held from March 23 to July 14 at the Exhibition Hall of the HKFA, offering an overview of the studio's development. The HKFA's new publication "Golden Harvest: Leading Change in Changing Times", focusing on the characteristics of Golden Harvest productions, with English edition on CD-ROM, will be released in late March.
Four seminars, to be conducted in Cantonese, will be held at the HKFA. Co-founder of Golden Harvest Mr Raymond Chow will grace the retrospective by talking in the first seminar entitled "The Mastermind Behind: Raymond Chow" on March 23, while four critics, Mr Stephen Teo, Mr Lam Chiu-wing, Mr Thomas Shin and Mr Lau Yam, will talk in the "Genres Explorations of Golden Harvest" seminar on March 30. Another exciting seminar will see two senior film company executives, Mr Albert Lee and Ms Winnie Tsang, joining a discussion entitled "International Visions of Golden Harvest" on April 6. To drill more into the Hui brothers' achievements in the 1970s, director Michael Hui and critic Mr Shin will join a seminar entitled "Aspirations of the Hui Brothers" on April 20.
Post-screening talks are also planned to be hosted by film critics and directors including Yim Ho, Alfred Cheung, Fruit Chan and Mabel Cheung. Admission to the exhibition and seminars is free.
Most of the films are with Chinese and English subtitles. Tickets priced at $40 with half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens aged 60 and above, people with disabilities and their minders, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Credit card bookings can be made at 2111 5999 and Internet bookings at www.urbtix.hk .
Detailed programme information can be found in "ProFolio 67" or the 37th HKIFF booking folder distributed at all performing venues of the LCSD. For programme enquiries, please call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900, or browse the webpage at www.lcsd.gov.hk/ce/CulturalService/filmprog/english/2013gh/2013gh_index.html .
Ends/Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Issued at HKT 13:00
A film still of "The Way of the Dragon" (1972).
A film still of "The Man from Hong Kong" (1975).
A film still of "The Invincible Eight" (1971).
A film still of "Plain Jane to the Rescue" (1982).
A film still of "The Sword" (1980).
A film still of "I Am Sorry" (1989).
A film still of "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" (1990).
A film still of "Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain" (1983).