The first martial arts film in Cantonese, the dominant Chinese spoken language of Hong Kong, was The Adorned Pavilion (1938). [10], No single figure was more responsible for this international profile than Bruce Lee, an American-born, Hong Kong-raised martial artist and actor. Performers were trussed up on ultrathin wires to allow them to conduct gravity-defying action sequences, a technique known by Western fans, sometimes disparagingly, as wire fu. The brief career of Tang Shu Shuen, the territory's first noted woman director, produced two films, The Arch (1968) and China Behind (1974), that were trailblazers for a local, socially critical art cinema. These include technically glossier visuals, including much digital imagery; greater use of Hollywood-style mass marketing techniques; and heavy reliance on casting teen-friendly Cantopop music stars. Making a virtue of necessity, studios included Chinese subtitles as well, enabling easier access to their movies for speakers of other dialects. The exceptionally sophisticated timing of both the awe-inspiring stunt work and comedic gags is honestly comparable to Buster Keaton’s best hours – and the fact that such rich work is often ignored or ridiculed by Western audiences (even serious critics sometimes) only speaks to how action cinema (especially of Asian origin) is still underrated as a legitimately artistic endeavor. [3], For the remainder of the 1980s and into the early 1990s, a deluge of films by Woo and others explored similar territory, often with a similar visual style and thematic bent. [27] Following its success, the Shaw Brothers made The Criminal 2.The Criminal 1 included three true stories: The Human Torsos, The Stuntmen, and Valley of the Hanged; each story was filmed by a different director. By the height of the boom in the early 1990s, roughly half of the theatrical features produced were Category III-rated softcore erotica descended from the fengyue movies of the 1970s. ), often set in western countries like Australia or the Netherlands, and sometimes in Cantonese (2004's New Police Story and 2006's Rob-B-Hood). ", "Robust film industry is in our best interest", "Hong Kong box office shrinks for second year in a row",, Bibliography of Hong Kong International Film Festival Retrospective Books Related to Hong Kong Action Cinema, "A Selected Bibliography of Chinese Cinema", The Wonderful World of Hong Kong Action Cinema, Chinese Film, Chinese Media, Print Culture 1, database of films and people blended with an editorial content, Hong Kong's TV and Film Publication Database,, Short description is different from Wikidata, Articles containing traditional Chinese-language text, Articles with Chinese-language sources (zh), Articles with French-language sources (fr), Articles with German-language sources (de), Articles with Italian-language sources (it), Articles with Spanish-language sources (es), Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. If ever kung fu choreography was surpassed on film, it’s definitely in another one of Lau Kar-Leung’s masterpieces. In such movies as Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983) and A Chinese Ghost Story (1987, directed by Ching Siu-tung), he kept pushing back the boundaries of Hong Kong special effects. (Yang, 2003) Subtitling later had the unintended consequence of facilitating the movies' popularity in the West. Eventually, Hark, like many of his contemporaries, was incorporated into the mainstream, but he never lost touch with his rebellious instincts. These fanatics are trying to drive all "Western ways" out of China and it's up to Wong to defend the country's future. In the 1970s, he began directing in Mandarin and brought exploitation elements to serious films about subjects like prostitution (The Call Girls and Lina), the atomic bomb (Hiroshima 28) and the fragility of civilised society (Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1970), which portrayed a plague-decimated, near-future Hong Kong) (Teo, 1997). In 2019, Hong Kong’s best movies were not found in action-packed kung fu movies, nor were they found in the criminal thrillers that the city is famous for. Sean Lau and Wu Chien-lien excel as the lead characters, though the film – and their relationship – feels a little rushed. Try another? This special-effects freak-out is demented, goofy, and sacks of demonic fun. The most notable other auteur of these themes was Ringo Lam, who offered a less romanticized take in such films as City on Fire, Prison on Fire (both 1987), and Full Contact (1992), all starring Chow Yun-Fat. Violence also grew more intense and graphic, particularly at the instigation of martial arts filmmakers. Director Lung Kong blended these trends into the social-issue dramas which he had already made his speciality with late 1960s Cantonese classics like The Story of a Discharged Prisoner (1967) and Teddy Girls (1969). Dragon Squad, released in 2005, is a rare example of a later movie that still succeeded. The industry continued the wuxia tradition in Cantonese B movies and serials, although the more prestigious Mandarin-language cinema generally ignored the genre. Of the four films he starred in during his life, Fist of Fury is probably the best. Movies often went into production without finished scripts, with scenes and dialogue concocted on the set; especially low-budget productions on tight schedules might even have actors mouth silently or simply count numbers, with actual dialogue created only in the editing process. This genre-busting milestone combines the action with a poetic heart and stunningly beautiful cinematography. For decades, films were typically shot silent, with dialogue and all other sound dubbed afterwards. Since the mid-1990s, the trend has withered with the shrinking of the general Hong Kong film market and the wider availability of pornography in home video formats (Bordwell, 2000). Bruce expressed that the true orientals are not shown especially in Hollywood and most of audience still thinks of Asian people with stereotype (e.g. She made an unlikely specialty of androgynous woman-warrior types, such as the villainous, sex-changing eunuch in The Swordsman 2 (1992), epitomizing martial arts fantasy's often-noted fascination with gender instability. The fad did little to engender mainstream respect in the West for the relatively new phenomenon of martial arts cinema. The rationale behind the move to Cantonese was clear in the trailer for the brothers' Games Gamblers Play (1974): "Films by devoted young people with you in mind." Subtitles allow both markets access to films (Kei, 1994). He was succeeded in the 1980s by Jackie Chan—who popularized the use of comedy, dangerous stunts, and modern urban settings in action films—and Jet Li, whose authentic wushu skills appealed to both eastern and western audiences. Yun-Fat Chow plays the lead, supported by Danny Lee and Sally Yeh. Released in the west as Master Killer, 36th Chamber was the right film at the right time to capitalise on the hunger for martial-arts films created by Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. Hong Kong action cinema is the principal source of the Hong Kong film industry's global fame. For a tougher, bloodier angle, go with Woo's acclaimed 1990 drama about friendship, love, and betrayal set in Vietnam. The Hong Kong film industry has been in a severe slump since the mid-1990s. His quest leads him on an action-packed journey, complete with martial arts and a number of plot twists that are sure to keep your attention. According to McDonald, a star system emerged in Hollywood as talent scouts, coaches, and publicists were involved with finding performers and making them into stars. Director Hark Tsui delivers the non-stop kickin' goods. And speaking of those, one can’t be effusive enough about the action in “Exiled”; if only more action directors had the same talent as To for blocking, editing, and camera movement, mainstream cinema would be heaven. Because of his enormous U.S. popularity, these films are usually released in the U.S., a rarity for Hong Kong films, and generally attract respectable audience numbers. An even more successful example of the genre was the blockbuster Infernal Affairs trilogy (2002–03) of police thrillers co-directed by Andrew Lau and Alan Mak (the Oscar-winning movie The Departed, was based on this movie). This is John Woo's early masterpiece. From one of the darkest martial arts’ movies to one of the lightest: Corey Yuen’s “The Legend.” Yuen, of course, is a very familiar name to martial arts fans, being one of the most reliable supporting players in many kung fu classics from his fellow Peking Opera School students, like Sammo Hung. Eastern film historian Patrick Macias ascribes his success to "(bringing) the warrior spirit of old into the present day... developing his own fighting style... and possessing superhuman charisma". Excellent kung fu and a bizarre sense of humor make this Jet Li vehicle a whacky Hong Kong favorite. Domestic ticket sales had already started to drop in the late 1980s, but the regional audience kept the industry booming into the early years of the next decade (Teo, 1997). Journal: Hong Kong. Historical costume epics often overlapped with the Huángméidiào, such as in The Kingdom and the Beauty (1959). The martial arts subgenre of the kung fu movie exploded into popularity internationally, with the Shaws driving and dominating the wave. with flat eyes, pigtails). The rapidly growing permissiveness in film content that was general in much of the world affected Hong Kong film as well. Robert Rodriguez's Desperado (1995) and its 2003 sequel Once Upon a Time in Mexico aped Woo's visual mannerisms. In that way, it’s the most similar he’s ever gotten to John Woo, a director he’s frequently compared to, because he manages to find real pathos in the relationships between the shootouts. A trend towards sync sound filming grew in the late 1990s and this method is now the norm, partly because of a widespread public association with higher quality cinema. In particular, Wong Kar-wai's works starring Leslie Cheung, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Maggie Cheung in the 1990s have made him an internationally acclaimed and award-winning filmmaker. [24] This set of movies were partly spoken in Cantonese and partly spoken in Mandarin.

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