12 films to showcase HK cinema of the seventies
With radical ideas and challenges to traditional values, Hong Kong cinema of the 1970s focused on sensational filming and a new breed of kung-fu films.
The comedies of Michael Hui, neo-martial arts interpretations by Chor Yuen, the "invincible" Bruce Lee legend and soft porn were some of the film genres that predominated in that period.
Twelve titles of these genres will be showcased at the Cinema of the Hong Kong Film Archive from July 18 to August 27 in its new programme, "Time and Tide - Changes in Hong Kong Cinema in the 70s".
A related exhibition, an international conference and seminars will also be organised to enhance the audiences' understanding of this decade.
With the newly popular TV sitcoms and variety shows, the Hui Brothers comedies became the biggest box-office draw of the seventies. "The Private Eyes" (1976) is a modern classic in its own right with Sam Hui's songs capturing the collective frustrations of many workers.
"Let's Rock" (1975) starring The Wynners, was not just a continuation of the late sixties Cantonese cinema's teen frolics, but also incorporated elements from the sixties Western "band movies". Beyond all the images of singing and dancing, the film brings home the message of friendship and teen aspirations.
After a massive overdose of kung-fu and martial arts films made from the mid-sixties to early seventies, some filmmakers tried to twist the genre by adding comedy. "Wits to Wits" (1974) was an early attempt. The action sequence designed by Yuen Woo-ping set the stage for the local breed of kung-fu comedies in the late seventies. The film screened will be a new print.
After the death of Bruce Lee, martial arts' new superstar emerged in the late seventies in the form of Jackie Chan, playing another martial arts legend the young Wong Fei-hung in "Drunken Master" (1978). The film set the benchmark for action comedies of the eighties, placing Hong Kong on the world cinema map, propelling both Jackie Chan, and later Yuen Woo-ping to international stardom.
Tsui Hark's TV production, "The Gold Dagger Romance" (1978), was a trendsetter of its time, adding suspense and melodramatic elements to martial arts. Tsui directed with such grand assurance that the mood is hypnotically romantic and the action scenes spectacular. The mini TV-series remains one of the most important TV works of the seventies. Episodes 1 and 6 will be screened.
The founding of the ICAC is of great significance in recent Hong Kong history, and the "based on real crime" sub-genre was particularly popular in the seventies. "Anti-corruption" (1975), signals the dawn of a new era when rampant corruption was halted, and Hong Kong become a fairer society.
Another social-realist melodrama, "The Call Girls" (1973), portrays the lives of five prostitutes. The film shows great concern over a group of teenage delinquents and depicts their lifestyles and feelings in depth. It won the Best Director and Best Actress awards at the 19th Asian Film Festival.
After a decade of experimentation and evolution, the homegrown cop thriller finally advanced to a higher level with more explosive action, credible characters, and slick editing characteristic of the New Wave Movement. Alex Cheung's "Cops and Robbers" (1979) is considered as the most stylish and fast-paced of seventies cop thriller. The competent debut, "The Servants" (1979), by Ronny Yu on the duel between a cop and an assassin also showed he was a filmmaker to be reckoned with.
Other films to be shown include the social realist drama, "Mud Child" (1976), which uses a mudslide to make a case against government bureaucracy; "Romance on the Bus" (1978) conveys the message that citizens need to "upgrade" themselves to meet new challenges under social and economic changes; and "China Behind" (1974) by Tang Shuxuan, the first Chinese language film about the Cultural Revolution.
Tickets priced at $30 are available at all URBTIX outlets. Half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Reservations can be made by phone on 2734 9009 or on the Internet at http://www.urbtix.gov.hk
An exhibition, assisted by the students from the Baptist University of Hong Kong, will be held at the Exhibition Hall of the Archive from July 16 to August 22, featuring the prominent genres of the seventies, plus a feature on Sylvia Chang. Admission to the exhibition is free.
Two seminars entitled "70s Hong Kong Cinema & Culture" and "HK's Film Industry and Social Changes in the 70s", to be conducted in Cantonese, are scheduled on August 15 and 17 respectively at the Cinema of the Archive.
In addition, an international conference, "Cultural Identity, Gender and Everyday Life Practice: Hong Kong Cinema of the 1970s", will be held at the Archive on August 15 and at the Baptist University on August 16 and 17. The conference aims to examine the inter-connection between Hong Kong culture and cinema in the 1970s and to study the traditions of Hong Kong cinema and the socio-cultural contests.
For programme information call 2739 2139, 2734 2900 or visit http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/fp
Ends/Wednesday, July 7, 2004