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 Post subject: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 4:59 pm 
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So I know from the horror list discussion that there are a few fans of Hong Kong cinema on here, and I wanted to start up a discussion on some of the other genres from this fascinating national cinema. I'm hoping it will not be purely limited to HK Action films, as I've found the wonderful manic slapstick energy of these films runs through all genres.

In this first post I'll have a section for various sources people can go to to learn more about this national cinema. If anyone else has recommendations on books, lists, documentaries, etc. I'll add them to this first post to keep an updated database.


Books
Planet Hong Kong (David Bordwell) - A bit thin on info about the history of the film industry and the major contributors. But invaluable for its insight into the film-making practices and insightful analysis into the cinematography, blocking, and editing techniques of the industry.

Hong Kong New Wave Cinema (Pak Tong Cheuk)

Hong Kong Cinema: The Extra Dimensions (Stephen Teo)

China Forever: The Shaw Brothers and Diasporic Cinema

Hong Kong Action Cinema (Bey Logan)

The Hong Kong Filmography, 1977-1997: A Complete Reference to 1,100 Films (John Charles)

Lists
LoveHKfilms.com Decades Lists - This website has some really great lists that include all HK films, not just action stuff, and range from the essentials to some crazy oddball choices.
Top 100 Films of the 1980s
Top 100 Films of the 1990s
Top 50 Films of the Aughts
Top 200 Films of All Time

Time Out's Top 100 Hong Kong Films - A really nice list that also contains a lot of rarely discussed films from the 1960s and earlier.

Hong Kong Film Archive Present 100 Must See Movies - A lot of the older titles on this list will probably be near impossible to track down, but it's nice to see a list with such a large amount of them. Also nice because it tries to represent more serious HK filmmaking efforts, with several key genre films sprinkled throughout.

Documentaries

Cinema Hong Kong - Focuses on the more popular periods of HK Cinema, but very informative.

A Century of Light and Shadow - Not too in depth, but covers a huge range of genres and time periods, nice introduction for people looking to learn more about tremendously under-studied early HK cinema.

Century of Cinema - Yang ± Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema (Stanley Kwan) - Really great documentary Stanley Kwan asks several key directors about the sexual undercurrents in their films. Includes Taiwanese and Chinese cinema as well.

Blogs/Articles/Websites

Golden Ninja Warrior Chronicles - The bizarre cut and paste movies of Joseph Lai, Godfrey Ho, and Thomas Tang have had lots of misinformation spread about them over the years. This blog, especially some of the older entry, provides a lot of well researched information into their film making practices. It dispels a lot of the old rumors, and also uncovers a lot of the source material for these films.

Cool Ass Cinema


Last edited by YnEoS on Wed May 08, 2013 1:21 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 5:00 pm 
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So I figure I'll start off this discussion with some write-ups on some of my favorite films and practitioners in the industry. I'll write more in the future if there's some interest in this discussion.

Lau Kar Leung: Lau Kar Leung has a strong reputation for being one of the great action choreographers in the industry. Compared to later fight choreographers his action scenes might feel a little slow and as if they're moving to a metronome. But for me the enjoyment lies in the complexity of the fight scenes and his endless inventiveness. What's extraordinary about Lau Kar Leung's films, is that they usually start with an amazing jaw-dropping action scene, and they proceed to get even more incredible throughout the film. Also each one is always unique and memorable, and he always seems to take the gimmicks and set pieces of each fight as a personal challenge of how can he use various objects, styles and limitations on the fight scene in just about every way imaginable. This has become a pretty common tool in HK action scenes where some sort of "rule" is set for a fight to add some additional interest beyond appendages hitting each other. For example one character fights with a priceless artifact that the other character tries to stop from being broken. Lau Kar Leung definitely adept at using these "rules" as well as being an expert at many different fighting styles and weapons making each of his films filled with memorable fight scenes that are rarely redundant. Dirty Ho is probably his masterpiece in terms of memorable fight scenes. Other noteworthy films of his are The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, Return to the 36th Chamber, Legendary Weapons of China, Eight Diagram Pole Fighter, and Drunken Master 2.

Yuen Clan: Certainly it would be worth praising the whole body of work of legendary fight choreographer Yuen-Woo Ping. However I have a soft spot in my heart for several of his films that are referred to as "Yuen Clan" films which he made with his father and brothers and are some of the most insane off the wall martial arts films ever made. But what's wonderful about them is the incredible choreography that's put together with some of the weirdest set pieces you'll ever see. For example in Shaolin Drunkard there's some evil demon trying to capture little children for some dark ritual. So the 2 main characters dress up as little children, by bending over, putting masks over their butt and dressing the back of their legs as if it was the front of the kids bodies. Then they have to actually fight the demon in these bizarre outfits. All the films are worth checking out, my favorites are Shaolin Drunakard, Drunken Tai Chi, and Dreadnaught. If you like these films you should also check out 2 films by Taiwanese director Chiu Chung Hing, who worked with the Yuen Clan for a bit. Drunken Dragon which is a great straight up homage to Yuen Clan-style films and The Heroic Fight, which is about a group of film SFX guys and stuntmen very similar to the Yuen Clan who must use their crazy gadgets and effects gear to fight real life gangsters.

Shanghai Blues: Someone more knowledgeable about Chinese and Hong Kong history could probably do a better job of analyzing the politics of this film than I could. But for me this is a great example of how you can see the same filmmaking practices and technique that are so common to HK martial arts films, at work in a romantic comedy with absolutely no fight scenes. This film is incredibly mobile and never takes a moment to stand still. Stuffed full of physical comedy, and heavy melodrama that's always undercut by the character being put in weird outfits or awkward situation. I have trouble praising it without using a lot of meaningless buzzwords, so I'll stop here and hope someone else will pull up a strong argument for it.

All the Wrong Spies: This film encapsulates a lot of the wonderful traits of HK cinema, lots of ridiculous off the wall gags, strong unbridled emotions, and a little bit of kung fu. It takes a lot of trademark gags of spy films and pushes them to the furthest possible extreme and artifice. Characters are given ridiculous phrases to meet their contacts and situations just keep building off each other. Ex: a character is told to go to a bar and yell "Fat Chick" to meet his contact, then we learn there's also a gangster in the bar who people call Fat Chick, and he hates the nickname and beats up anyone who calls him that, and it just continues from there.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 5:45 pm 
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Thanks for starting this. I don't have anything particularly to add as it's not really an area of cinema I've had much experience with (other than with the obvious greats - Jonnie To, Wong Kar-wai, Ann Hui, John Woo, Clara Law and the odd Chang Cheh, Tsui Hark, Pang Bros. and Stephen Chow film), but I'd certainly be very keen to read further thoughts and recommendations.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 11:17 am 

Joined: Sun Nov 07, 2004 1:57 pm
As far as books are concerned, one might also check out Stephen Teo's 1997 study Hong Kong Cinema: The Extra Dimensions.

Bordwell's Planet Hong Kong was updated last year or so, but this edition is primarily available digitally, though a limited run paperback is out there if you can still find it.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 1:30 pm 
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I've been meaning to read Stephen Teo's book for a while now, I'll add it to the first post.

I also recently watched Stanley Kwan's documentary Yang ± Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema which is part of the Century of Cinema series. Absolutely incredible watch, Stanley Kwan asks a lot of direct questions to directors about homosexuality in their films as well as discussing gender roles.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:25 pm 

Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:24 pm
Stephen Teo's book I would consider a must read along with David Bordwell's Planet Hong Kong (got my name in the second edition :)). There are a lot of decent to good books out there as well like China Forever: The Shaw Brothers and Diasporic Cinema, Stephen Teo's book on Johnnie To, Bey Logan's Hong Kong Action Cinema (which I would consider a must read as well, even if it is slightly dated), but those two are still my favorite.

This is one of my favorite areas of cinema and one I've wrote about on several forums (from kungfucinema, to my Criterion co-owned site, to HKMDB when the forum was up).

Here's my top 50 HK films. It's due for an update.

Add a blurb on Chang Cheh one of my favorite HK directors.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 7:47 pm 

Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:24 pm
I forgot one book that I think you should look out for: The Hong Kong Filmography, 1977-1997: A Complete Reference to 1,100 Films by John Charles. It technically is not complete (currently cannot remember what he has missed), but he goes over almost all of the Hong Kong films that were released/made during that time period so if you cannot find information on a film, chances are it is in this book.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 3:42 pm 
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Nicelist, especially glad to see Chor Yuen's The Magic Blade included. I'd love to see your updated list whenever you get around to it.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 6:55 pm 
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I've been planning several things in relation to Hong Kong cinema (namely a complete-as-possible overview of Chang Cheh's films, as well as an overview of 80s Hong Kong cinema [to be completed and shared by the 80s list, so long term]), but I welcome any discussion, and hope to find a way to contribute to it.

On a different note, I wonder if anyone here has any personal knowledge/thought/recommendation of the pre-yanggang (mid-1960s and prior) period of Hong Kong cinema. It seems like an interesting period - the action film had yet to ascend to dominance (melodrama, comedies and operas seemed to be the dominant mode); Shaw still had serious competition (namely MPGI/Cathay); HK studios were still uncertain whether to cater to the Mainland, Taiwan or the Nanyang; as a result, the Cantonese studios had yet to be pushed out (only to return with a vengeance by the 80s). Yet, Western critics have largely ignored the period, and even I have trouble finding an appropriate entry point.

With that said, as far as bloggers covering the region, I can't recommend Cool Ass Cinema enough. The guy's articles are really full of information for anyone wanting to seriously consider much of the classic genre cinema of the era.


Last edited by Cold Bishop on Wed May 01, 2013 4:50 am, edited 2 times in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2012 1:24 pm 
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Both of those sound like really great projects. There are lots of HK Directors I love, who have immense filmographies that I've barely scratched the surface of, and Chang Cheh is probably pretty high and that list. Would love some more in depth discussion about his whole career and evolution as a director.

Similarly, the LoveHKFilm.com top 100 films of the 1980s list was a real eye opener for it. Lots of amazing films that had been completely off my radar previously. Makes me wonder how many other great films there are from this era that has been forgotten.

I'd definitely be interested in exploring pre-1965 HK cinema. I know a big difficulty is the availability of a lot of these titles. I remember the doc A Century of Light and Shadow talked pretty extensively about this period, perhaps I'll re-visit it and trying digging a little more to see if any of the key films they mention are English accessible.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:06 pm 

Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:24 pm
YnEoS wrote:
Both of those sound like really great projects. There are lots of HK Directors I love, who have immense filmographies that I've barely scratched the surface of, and Chang Cheh is probably pretty high and that list. Would love some more in depth discussion about his whole career and evolution as a director.
...I'd definitely be interested in exploring pre-1965 HK cinema. I know a big difficulty is the availability of a lot of these titles. I remember the doc A Century of Light and Shadow talked pretty extensively about this period, perhaps I'll re-visit it and trying digging a little more to see if any of the key films they mention are English accessible.
There definitely is not a lot of early HK, especially in R1. But luckily there are three early Cantonese (because Bruce Lee is in it) available from Cinema Epoch: The Son, The Guiding Light and An Orphan's Tragedy. Not great quality DVD releases and the films themselves are a bit didactic, but I am happy they were released.

Regarding Chang Cheh and especially his Venom cycle here is a good website on the topic.

I, like many, wish that Tiger Boy (1966) was released anywhere, but for the first available chambara influenced film Magnificent Trio (1966) (a remake of the Criterion released Three Outlaw Samurai) that is a good start if you have not seen it. It's good to know the Wang Yu and Chang Cheh collaborations, because they are good examples of how Wang Yu was before he went to Taiwan (and typecast with one-arm) and Chang Cheh exploring his "heroic bloodshed" themes before the David Liang and Ti Lung collaborations (though his later Venom cycle is among my favorite of his periods).

I tend to think of the different periods of Cheh as the following: Wang Yu, Iron Triangle (David Lian/Ti Lung), Fu Sheng and then the Venoms. There is definitely overlap, but you can see how he went from one period to another with either a favorite actor or a set of actors.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Tue Jul 10, 2012 4:45 am 
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Chang Cheh's relation to his stars is definitely a place worth examining his films. I definitely give some credence to the theory of Chang as a possibly queer filmmaker, as his films drip with homo-eroticism and a fetishistic attention to the idealized male body... and a sado-masochistic attention to their rending. I can't watch his films without thinking of that image of San Sebastian, nude, punctured with arrows, that so obsessed both Oscar Wilde and Yukio Mishima. One could place his casting in the continum of intense artist-muse relationships that you sometimes find preoccupying gay filmmakers - Cocteau and Marais, Visconti and Delon - but its revolving door nature also has something of the Hitchock Blonde in it. For all their differences, the Chang Cheh leading man definitely follows a type: dark-haired youths with slender, muscular, Adonis-like bodies, often exposed, and increasingly lathered with sweat and blood. Angry young men, rebelling against society in reckless pursuit of glory, but ultimately tethered to an obsession with brotherhood and friendship.

This is where Chang distinguishes himself from his two rivals. Lau Kar-Leung's specialty was the choreography: his film's are the culmination of the school that sees the kung-fu film, like the Musical, as a series of dazzling set-pieces strung together by the barest of plots. His films could be called "hard kung-fu", much in the same way you could say "hard sci-fi", in that they take the technical details of martial arts seriously, leading to some of the best choreography you'll ever see. Chor Yuen's films, in contrast, are about narrative: almost in response to the arbitrary plots of most martial art films, Chor collaborated with the most prominent wuxia novelists of his day, creating what I call the "Swordplay & Intrigue" film: wuxia pians revolving around dense, often confusing Agatha Christie-like mysteries, with large ensemble casts, and a touch of elegance and class that often seemed missing from his peers. Chang, on the other hand, often left the intricacies of the choreography up to others (including Lau) and wasn't above using cookie-cutter plots. Chang's specialty, then, is in the melodrama of the kung-fu film: the overheated, excessive outpouring of emotion that accumulates and overflows in his films, until they can only be alleviated by equally excessive outpourings of violence (Chang knew his Peckinpah). Perhaps why one of his greatest, most evocative films is a full-on melodrama: Dead End, which was equally inspired by both Rebel Without a Cause and Breathless, and which, while completely devoid of martial arts, is ground zero for Chang's obsession with angry, rebellious (but restrictedly male) youth.

Working through his films. you could definitely pick out several identifiable periods and modes. The Swordplay films of the late 60s, still under the shadow of both the classical wuxia and the Japanese Samurai film. The "Heroic Bloodshed" films of the early 70s, inaugurated by Vengeance!, which could be divided into two types: the period pieces and the relatively modern crime films. In fact, Chang seems to have been crucial in the development of the latter genre just as much as he was for the kung-fu film. There's a period of "prestige" pictures, adaptations of classic epics and wuxia novels, of which The Water Margin is the most famous entry, and which continue, in decreasingly prestigious form, up to the 1980s. Also among those super-productions, you have the historical films, from where the famed Shaolin Cycle emerges. Finally, you have the over-the-top Pulp Kung-Fu pictures, beginning with the Venom films, and culminating in the ridiculously sublime Five Element Ninja.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 12:31 pm 

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David Chiang seems to be the odd man out with the body types in Cheh's films being very small, very slender, though he was athletic. I know Cheh's fascination with him have baffled some (especially on kungfucinema.com). I like your mention of San Sebastian. Cheh loved the male figure. I remember (can't remember where right now) Ti Lung stated that Cheh wanted to show masculine beauty in his film.

There are no homoerotic images in Chang Cheh films:

Image

Image

Originally I thought the homoerotic notions were overblown until I kept spotting them over and over in his films.

Chor Yuen is interesting because he was not strictly a martial arts director (compared to Chang and Lau Kar-leung) with his 122+ directed films. Unfortunately I have only seen his ma movies so I cannot compare (I do own a few non-MAs from him though). So I am curious on if one can find any themes among his non-MA work. He seems to have dabbled in most everything. My favorite film from him so far is The Magic Blade (mentioned in my top 50 list), but I agree with Cold Bishop on his "often confusing" plots. But he is fun to watch with examples such as the outlandishness of the titular weapon in The Web of Death and the then controversial lesbian plot Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 3:25 pm 
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The Yang ± Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema documentary talks a good bit about the homoeroticism in Chang Cheh's films and even asks him directly about it.

Here's a short clip for anyone who hasn't seen it.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:04 pm 

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YnEoS wrote:
The Yang ± Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema documentary talks a good bit about the homoeroticism in Chang Cheh's films and even asks him directly about it.

Here's a short clip for anyone who hasn't seen it.
That's a nice clip (bookmarked it). He reiterates what I stated on David Chiang. That was an unpleasant way to be impaled. Where can you find a copy of that documentary? I noticed a spot for a VHS on Amazon (there were no copies). Was there a DVD release (I see nothing on yesasia)?


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:06 pm 
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Well, it is important to note that it was really Ti Lung, and not David Chiang, that Chang was molding into a star: Ti's the lead in Dead End, while Chiang was simply a supporting role. Yet, much like would happen to him during his comeback film (A Better Tomorrow), it was the supporting actor that everyone talked about. Chang, seeing the potential box-office, promoted Chiang to the lead in Vengeance!. This lead to the perceived rivalry between the two.

I think a proper assessment of Chor definitely suffers from the complete lack of availability for classic HK films not produced by Shaw. The guy made his name as one of the premier directors of Cantonese cinema as early as 1960, a good eleven years before signing with Shaw. With that said, having seen two of his non-MA films (the tremendously influential comedy The House of 72 Tenants and the 70s HK crime film The Big Holdup), you could see some overlap with his more famous Swordplay films. Above all, the guy really likes to have an ensemble cast and dense, sprawling (if unnecessarily compact) narratives.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 9:25 am 
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masterofoneinchpunch wrote:
Where can you find a copy of that documentary? I noticed a spot for a VHS on Amazon (there were no copies). Was there a DVD release (I see nothing on yesasia)?


The only DVD releases were in Germany and Russia, where it was issued in box sets with the rest of the series (and no English subs). The Youtube clip is probably sourced from the old UK VHS. The only in-print English-friendly option is the HK VCD, which has dual Chinese/English subs and also includes the other Asian segments (by Oshima, Jang Sun-woo and Mrinal Sen).


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Fri Jul 13, 2012 2:03 pm 

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The Fanciful Norwegian wrote:
... The only in-print English-friendly option is the HK VCD, which has dual Chinese/English subs and also includes the other Asian segments (by Oshima, Jang Sun-woo and Mrinal Sen).
Thanks. I added that to my "saved for later" on that site.

Random older mini-review for a film I like quite a bit (anyone else fans of the Hui brothers):

The Private Eyes (1976: Michael Hui)
While American audiences might have seen Michael Hui as a partner to Jackie Chan in Cannonball Run but his name is almost unheard of here. However during the 1970s he was one of the most popular comedians in Asia. His popularity in Hong Kong was so great, especially in films like this, he helped changed the dominant language in film of the region. While Cantonese was the dialect spoken in Hong Kong the Mandarin movies had been so prevalent that in 1972 no films were made in this dialect and only one film in 1973 (The House of 72 Tenants). When former TVB host Hui directed Games Gamblers Play in 1974 he would start an increase of Cantonese language that would eventually dominate the Hong Kong landscape and become the main dialect for HK cinema in the late 70s until now. (However, the question remains how much longer will Cantonese reign supreme since HK is now part of China and some directors are going to the mainland for filming).

Michael Hui's third film The Private Eyes (not to be confused with the Tim Conway and Don Knotts film) is often considered his best. This was the first one I had seen of his and it is quite a funny and well-directed movie. Michael Hui plays Wong Yuk-see (internationally known as Mr. Boo) as a miserly cheap detective who is slightly incompetent, always a skinflint and deducts from employee's salaries if they damage anything (this scenario is later used in Fearless Hyena 2 and probably many more HK films). He hires a down-and-out martial artist Lee Kwok-kit (his brother Samuel Hui -- a big pop singer at the time) who was fired from his previous job at a bottle plant for goofing off and not taking the straws out of used bottles. Along with a secretary and one other employee Puffy (another brother Ricky Hui: Mr. Vampire) they work a series of jobs with disastrous consequences.

The episodic nature of the film works quite well with its multitude of sight gags (one of the better shoplifting gags I've seen), nonsense humor, martial arts reference (Sammo Hung was the action director so the Bruce Lee humor references worked quite well), midgets, giants, and pretty much everything thrown in.

I've read that much of Hui's work always has a socio-political message and this does (the basic be nice to your employees), but its primary purpose of humor works quite well. Fans of comedies like Airplane, the Pink Panther series (seriously how much did these films influence Hong Kong comedy?) and The Naked Gun should check this out. Hong Kong aficionados should make this a top priority if they have not already seen this. The influences from this film on Hong Kong comedy are ubiquitous. Of course this filmed is also influenced by America as well. Check out the name of the detective agencies: Mannix (TV series from 1967-1975) and Cannon (TV series from 1971-1976).


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Sun Jul 22, 2012 9:11 pm 
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Been reading Stephen Teo's Hong Kong Cinema: The Extra Dimensions, which is wonderful. But I'm wondering does anyone have any book suggestions that cover HK Action cinema in more detail? Most of the books I've read just cover a lot of the big names like Chang Cheh, Lau Kar Leung, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan etc. Would love to read a book that spent a decent amount of time covering the careers Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Corey Yuen Kwai and a bunch of the other important but less internationally famous names involved in the production of action films.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 12:05 am 

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YnEoS wrote:
Been reading Stephen Teo's Hong Kong Cinema: The Extra Dimensions, which is wonderful. But I'm wondering does anyone have any book suggestions that cover HK Action cinema in more detail? Most of the books I've read just cover a lot of the big names like Chang Cheh, Lau Kar Leung, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan etc. Would love to read a book that spent a decent amount of time covering the careers Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Corey Yuen Kwai and a bunch of the other important but less internationally famous names involved in the production of action films.
What did you think of Bey Logan's Hong Kong Action Cinema? Logan is quite a big fan of Sammo Hung, so he talks quite a bit about him. The only issue is that the book is from 1996.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 1:25 pm 
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Haven't read Bey Logan's book yet. While I'd love to read an in depth entry on Sammo Hung's career, my understanding is that the book is not terribly long or in depth otherwise.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 2:39 pm 

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YnEoS wrote:
Haven't read Bey Logan's book yet. While I'd love to read an in depth entry on Sammo Hung's career, my understanding is that the book is not terribly long or in depth otherwise.
It's a fun book and exactly what you were asking for in your previous post "covering the careers Sammo Hung, Yuen Biao, Corey Yuen Kwai and a bunch of the other important but less internationally famous names involved in the production of action films."

But out of the books I have read on HK I have not found a newer book that quite fits that criteria you describe (though I think you should read Logan's book first and then Bordwell's book). I'm going to buy a few books on the subject (HK, MA, and cinema; two book titles being Kung Fu Cult Masters and Kung Fu Cult Masters) then I'll post my take.

It's funny how some of the better books on HK cinema take on the movie capsule format. I already mentioned a few, but another one I'll advocate getting is Dr. Craig D. Reid's The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s: 500+ Films Loaded with Action, Weapons & Warriors It's not strictly about HK, but there is enough information on the Golden Harvest and Shaw Brothers films of the 1970s to really help anyone's knowledge out on the subject. It's more from a martial artist standpoint and he has stats of how much martial arts is in every film that he mentions (including amount of scenes, training involved and more) and it lacks from a critical standpoint, but it should be in every person's MA library.

I do not recommend the Ric Meyer's books out there with the latest one being Films of Fury since they have way too many errors (I have a list of errata from the first 100 pages that is quite extensive). His commentaries are even worse.

Out of curiosity what is your favorite Sammo Hung films (either as a star or director)?


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 6:15 pm 
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Cool, I'll have to check out Bey Logan's book then sounds great. I don't mind so much it being written in 1996 since that covers the best years of HK cinema. I also plan on reading Stephen Teo's newer book Chinese Martial Arts Cinema: The Wuxia Tradition. I wasn't a huge fan of The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s. Seemed to haphazardly put together, and the alphabetical listing of movies doesn't make much sense to me except as a sort of database to look up individual films. Overall I thought it wasn't much use as a straight read through, and I didn't care much for the statistics included for reference. But I suppose it has its purpose.


Pedicab Driver has been my go to favorite Sammo Hung film for quite some time now. I might be slowly leaning more towards Eastern Condors, but only time will tell which lasts with me longest. I love pretty much every one of his films that I've seen though, so deciding is difficult.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:01 pm 
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I think Pedicab Driver is most people's favorite Sammo Hung movie.


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 Post subject: Re: Hong Kong Cinema
PostPosted: Mon Jul 23, 2012 7:20 pm 

Joined: Thu Dec 18, 2008 7:24 pm
YnEoS wrote:
Cool, I'll have to check out Bey Logan's book then sounds great. I don't mind so much it being written in 1996 since that covers the best years of HK cinema. I also plan on reading Stephen Teo's newer book Chinese Martial Arts Cinema: The Wuxia Tradition. I wasn't a huge fan of The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s. Seemed to haphazardly put together, and the alphabetical listing of movies doesn't make much sense to me except as a sort of database to look up individual films. Overall I thought it wasn't much use as a straight read through, and I didn't care much for the statistics included for reference. But I suppose it has its purpose.
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Yeah, I would never suggest a straight readthrough of The Ultimate Guide to Martial Arts Movies of the 1970s or Hong Kong Filmography or Paul Fonoroff's At the Hong Kong Movies: 600 Reviews from 1988 Till the Handover But when you are looking at a specific film all of those can be invaluable, especially when you cannot find another mention on the web (including HKMDB where Paul has a few additional reviews as well).

My favorite Sammo films are his two Wing Chun films in Warriors Two and Prodigal Son. I saw some extras of Once Upon a Time in China and America (1997) last night and in my opinion that is one of his weaker films. Random info: Billy from that film (Jeff Wolfe) is the guy who gets his head stomped in Drive.


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