The Romance of Book and Sword
The difference between these adaptations of Jin Yong's popular novel The Romance of Book & Sword, made in the same decade, testifies to the dramatic changes Hong Kong cinema had undergone in the 1980s.
The Emperor and His Brother was a Shaw Brothers production directed by the veteran Chor Yuen, best known for his interpretations of Taiwan martial-arts writer Gu Long's work, in a flamboyant, studio-set style that helped define the Shaws brand of the 1970s. The Romance of Book and Sword, released only six years later, is the work of New Wave stalwart Ann Hui, whose approach was in many ways a reaction to that earlier brand's dominance. Her film, Part I of an ambitious diptych, features mostly actors from China and was shot in a variety of Chinese locations, far from the studio and with diverse landscapes at once picturesque, expressive and evocative.
While Chor's version focuses on one of the novel's many plots, remaining rather faithful to the original in both narrative and spirit, Hui's takes more liberty with the story, addressing concerns of the late 1980s with sophistication and ambiguity. Both films are marked by the efficient storytelling, fluid mise-en-scène and energetic fight choreography that distinguish Hong Kong cinema, yet each manages to serve in unique ways the character of its time.
|2/9/2018 (Sun)||12:30pm||Cinema, Hong Kong Film Archive|
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