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Counter bookings for Kong Ngee films start next week

Counter bookings for the Hong Kong Film Archive's (HKFA) new programme, "The Glorious Modernity of Kong Ngee" will start on Thursday (March 23) at all URBTIX outlets. All films will be shown at the Cinema of the HKFA.

Be it in the comedies "Let's Be Happy" and "Chase", the melodrama, "The Happy Bride" or the psychological thriller, "Sisters in Crime", stars Patrick Tse Yin, Patsy Kar Ling, Kong Suet and Nam Hung were trendsetters in the world of cinema. They defined the films of Kong Ngee productions -- films with an urban touch. Forty titles from this important studio will be screened from April 4 to June 11.

As a contributory programme to the 30th Hong Kong International Film Festival (HKIFF), 21 films will be screened from April 4 to 19. The lineup includes director Chun Kim's comedies "Let's Be Happy", "My Intimate Partners" and "Chase"; the modern romance, "Moon Over Malaya"; director Lung Kong's classic work, "Story of a Discharged Prisoner" and writer-director Chan Man's action film, "The Dreadnaught".

The second part of the retrospective will be shown from April 22 to June 11 including the family drama, "Mother's Boy", the romantic comedy, "Leading the Wolves into the House" and the 1960s Bond film "The Man from Interpol".

Kong Ngee Motion Picture Production Co undoubtedly had the most unique house style among companies producing Cantonese films in the 1950s and 1960s. It was established in 1955 with directors Chun Kim and Chan Man as their first executives, joined by other talented filmmakers like Chor Yuen and Lung Kong.

The studio produced more than 100 films from 1955 to 1968, mostly urban romantic comedies, melodramas, detective films and psychological thrillers. On each of these genres, Kong Ngee's achievement enriched the Hong Kong cinema.

Its films offered a remarkable record of Hong Kong in the 1950s and 1960s. From the drastically changing cityscape to the increasingly prosperous lifestyle, films from Kong Ngee capture the emerging city culture and modernism with compelling drama or comedy.

Together with Westernised set designs and a Hollywood editing style, it fashioned a studio style that set Kong Ngee apart from other Cantonese productions of the time. Such a style informs stories with subject matters that beat to the pulse of the changing Hong Kong society, oozing with a middle-class flavour that proved appealing not only to contemporary viewers young and old but also audiences of today.

A co-founder of Kong Ngee, director Chun Kim had greatly influenced other directors, including Chor Yuen and Lung Kong, both of whom later to become highly regarded filmmakers. Kong Ngee's first film, the romance-thriller "The Rouge Tigress" (1955), is directed by Chun and is a film of outstanding craftsmanship that establishes the studio as a company of quality Cantonese films.

Renowned as a Cantonese classic, Chun's odd-couple film "My Intimate Partners" (1960) offers evocative comments on the emerging urban culture. Another odd-couple film "Let's Be Happy" (1959) is a great comedy playing on class issues with battle-of-the-sexes humour. Just as delightful, the comedy, "Chase" (1961) offers witty takes on office politics.

Chun's "Moon Over Malaya" (1957) is about a man torn between his dedication to education, his love for his wife and the demands of his job in the business world. Patrick Tse Yin's nuanced performance in the film establishes himself as Kong Ngee's top star.

"Prince of Broadcasters" (1966) is Lung Kong's debut as director-scriptwriter. With polished skills and sophisticated style, he successfully presents an old-fashioned melodrama with contemporary style. His "Story of a Discharged Prisoner" (1967), a Cantonese classic, had a profound impact on many films including John Woo's "A Better Tomorrow" (1986).

Not to be missed is "Sisters in Crime" (1958), in which Patrick Tse Yin abandons his good-boy persona, playing a heartless womaniser who stops at nothing to steal young girls' affections. He plays another type of thief in "Love Stealer" (1958), playing the smooth-talking, charming gigolo, taking full advantage of his dandy image.

The 1960s Bond film is in a class by itself, marked by penthouse fun created with bargain-basement budgets and "The Man from Interpol" (1967) is an exemplary entry. Another action film, "The Dreadnaught" (1966), features a love triangle with a woman caught between an upstanding police inspector and a dangerous but sexy mobster.

All films are in Cantonese. Films with English subtitles include "The Rouge Tigress", "Moon Over Malaya", "Sisters in Crime", "Let's Be Happy", "Chase", "The Happy Bride", "The Dreadnaught", "Story of a Discharged Prisoner" and the "Incredible Rumour".

To supplement the screenings, two seminars will be held. Film stars including Patsy Kar Ling, Patrick Tse Yin, Nam Hung and Chow Chung are invited to the seminars. The first, "The Kong Ngee Star Shines Again" will be held at 4.30pm on April 9. The stars will share their experiences of filmmaking at the studio. Admission vouchers will be distributed at the HKFA from 10am on April 1. A maximum of two tickets is available for each person on a first-come, first-served basis.

Another seminar entitled, "Courting Mod — The Films of Kong Ngee" will be held at 4.30pm on April 14. Guest speakers include the associate professor of the National University of Singapore Mr Yung Sai-shing, film critic Mr Lam Kam-po and the Dean of Film and Television of Hong Kong Academy of Performing Arts, Mr Shu Kei.

The HKFA's new publication, "The Glorious Modernity of Kong Ngee" will be published in April with English and Chinese editions. It includes essays by film scholars, critics and interviews with Kong Ngee personalities. An exhibition will also be held on the first floor of the Archive to complement the retrospective from April 4 to June 11.

Tickets for all screenings are priced at $30. Half-price concessionary tickets are available for senior citizens, people with disabilities, full-time students and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. From March 23, telephone bookings can be made by calling URBTIX on 2734 9009.

For programme information, please see the HKFA's "Profolio 31" which will be available next week at the performing venues of the Leisure and Cultural Services Department or call 2739 2139 or 2734 2900 or browse the websites at or .

Ends/Friday, March 17, 2006
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