Why Hong Kong Hong Kong (hŏng kŏng), Mandarin Xianggang, special administrative region of China, formerly a British crown colony (2005 est. pop. 6,899,000), land area 422 sq mi (1,092 sq km), adjacent to Guangdong prov. movies are beating Hollywood at its own game
THROUGHOUT THE WORLD American cinema reigns supreme. Hollywood movies capture up to 90 percent of the box office in many countries. European film makers cry for protection from American films. They claim that they cannot compete with U.S. movies and note that in some European countries film making has virtually stopped.
But movie makers in Hong Kong aren't complaining about U.S. competition. This city-state continues to turn out more than 100 films a year, films that dominate the box office, despite competition from American films. Hong Kong movies are also popular exports throughout Asia, and they have attracted a small but growing following in the United States United States, officially United States of America, republic (2005 est. pop. 295,734,000), 3,539,227 sq mi (9,166,598 sq km), North America. The United States is the world's third largest country in population and the fourth largest country in area. and Europe.
Over the past two decades, government-subsidized European film makers have indulged their own increasingly obscure visions. And they have watched their share of their home nations' box office plummet. Meanwhile, American studios have become parts of ever-larger conglomerates, and they have relied more and more upon market surveys to determine which films they should make and upon audience reaction at test screenings to figure out how to edit those films.
But Hong Kong film makers have pursued a third path. Like the Americans, they make movies for a mass audience, but the Hong Kong version of movie capitalism is much more entrepreneurial. Instead of rehashing the old, Hong Kong film makers seem to compete with one another to see who can be the most original, the most daring, the most inventive.
Hong Kong cinema is characterized by incredible energy, dazzling visuals, and inventive action sequences. The word that most often crops up in Western descriptions of Hong Kong cinema is ultra: ultra-violent, ultrasexy, ultragory, ultramelo-dramatic, ultrafast.
As actor-director Samo Hung has said of the Hong Kong approach to stunt work, "I think we are usually more concerned with finding the line of safety...and then seeing how much further we can push it." Hong Kong movies push many of the accepted lines.
ARISTOTLE SAID THAT THE PURPOSE OF tragedy is to arouse pity and terror. Hong Kong film makers may not have read The Poetics, but they seem to have discovered this principle for themselves. Watching those films is like drinking strong whiskey--both deliver a very big kick. But it seems to be what many people want. The popularity of these films is proof that nothing succeeds like excess.
The best place to begin looking at Hong Kong cinema is with Jackie Chan Jackie Chan SBS, (born April 7, 1954), also known as Sing Lung in Cantonese (Traditional Chinese: 成龍; Simplified Chinese: 成龙 . The most popular star in Asia, Chan is a link between the chopsocky Chopsocky is a colloquial term applied to a diffuse group of martial arts movies made primarily in Hong Kong and Taiwan during the 1960s and 1970s. The term was coined by Variety magazine. films of the 1970s and new Hong Kong cinema. A former child actor, Chan began to really make a name for himself in the 1970s, when he was in his early 20s, in kung fu kung fu
Chinese martial art that is simultaneously a spiritual and a physical discipline. It has been practiced at least since the Zhou dynasty (1111–255 BC). films. Boyish looking and charismatic, Chan was touted as the next Bruce Lee Noun 1. Bruce Lee - United States actor who was an expert in kung fu and starred in martial arts films (1941-1973)
Lee Yuen Kam, Lee . But Chan soon began to create a different niche for himself. In contrast to Lee's swift and lethal-looking martial arts This is a list of martial arts, broken down by region and style. African martial arts
Comedy characterized by broad humour, absurd situations, and vigorous, often violent action. It took its name from a paddlelike device, probably introduced by 16th-century commedia dell'arte troupes, that produced a resounding whack when one comic actor used it to and mugging. This mixture of humor and violence remains a Chan trademark.
But in the 1980s, Chan moved from chopsocky films into broader action films It may never be fully completed or, depending on its its nature, it may be that it can never be completed. However, new and revised entries in the list are always welcome.
This is chronological list of action films split by decade. . Unlike Western action films, Jackie Chan's movies combine elements of broad physical comedy with nail-biting stunts, all at a breakneck break·neck
1. Dangerously fast: a breakneck pace.
2. Likely to cause an accident: a breakneck curve. pace.
Those films make terrific use of Chan's natural athletic ability. Like Samo Hung and many other Hong Kong stars, he does his own stunts. Again, this speaks to the drive of the people who make these films that so many are willing to endanger life and limb to please their audiences.
Chan's films are filled with stunts, which are their big selling point selling point
An aspect of a product or service that is stressed in advertising or marketing.
Noun 1. selling point - a characteristic of something that is up for sale that makes it attractive to potential customers . After watching a few, one wonders how the man ever lived to see 30. For instance, in Twin Dragons
And for all of the stereotypes of Asians Stereotypes of Asians may refer to:
ONE CAN'T TALK ABOUT CONTEMPORARY Hong Kong cinema without discussing director John Woo For other uses, see .
John Woo Yu-Sen (Chinese: 吳宇森; Pinyin: Wú Yǔsēn . Like Chan, Woo started out in the 1970s, directing his share of kung fu films and slapstick comedies. But in 1986, he wrote and directed A Better Tomorrow, establishing him as Hong Kong's premier director and making his frequent star Chow Yun-Fat the second biggest star in Asia, after Chan.
A contemporary gangster flick, A Better Tomorrow floored audiences with its fast-paced, expertly choreographed, and seemingly endless gun battles. Those gunfights became one of Woo's trademarks in his subsequent films. In fact, his films are filled with so much bloodshed, they make the most violent American films look positively anemic by comparison.
Still, Woo's violence is not nihilistic ni·hil·ism
a. An extreme form of skepticism that denies all existence.
b. A doctrine holding that all values are baseless and that nothing can be known or communicated.
2. . Indeed, critics often talk of "heroic bloodshed" when referring to Woo's films. Usually, this refers to the fact that his heroes have to distinguish themselves by taking on numerous enemies and spilling their blood. But it also refers to the fact that Woo's heroes inevitably must spill their own blood. Woo's films often focus on a contrast: The spirit can be built up only if the body is ripped apart.
One of the striking things about Woo's films is that innocent people sometimes get gunned down, by mistake, by his heroes. That's something that would never be seen in an American film. Americans expect their heroes to be perfect. But Woo's heroes are fallible fal·li·ble
1. Capable of making an error: Humans are only fallible.
2. Tending or likely to be erroneous: fallible hypotheses. . One of the heroes of A Better Tomorrow 2 asks, "Why is it so difficult for a man to be good?" That seems to be the question that Woo is dramatizing in many of his films. His movies are populated by men trying to maintain their honor while living in a world of disloyalty dis·loy·al·ty
n. pl. dis·loy·al·ties
1. The quality of being disloyal; faithlessness.
2. A disloyal act.
Noun 1. , greed, and lust.
Which brings us to Woo's other trademark: his serpentine, super-melodramatic plots. In A Better Tomorrow 2, for example, two brothers go undercover to infiltrate a counterfeiting gang. The gang's leader finds out that the younger brother is a policeman. At the same time he is suspicious of the other man (he doesn't know they are related), so he orders the older brother to prove his loyalty by shooting the cop to death in front of the assembled gang. The brother who is to be killed whispers to the other, "Better he trusts one of us." The other brother glances at the gang surrounding them, realizes they can't fight their way out, and shoots his brother.
A man driven by duty finds himself in an untenable position: He can try to save his brother, lose their quarry, and likely fail at the rescue in the process, or he must commit the most anguishing act in order to reach his goal. Woo faces the conflict unflinchingly. An American film maker would have forced a happier resolution on the situation, if he even wrote it at all.
BUT THERE'S MORE TO HONG KONG CINema than gore and violence. There's also sex. In this area, Hong Kong cinema is closer to European standards than to U.S. ones. Hong Kong film makers regularly turn out big-budget showcases of unabashed erotica erotica - pornography . Indeed, films such as Sex and Zen, the Erotic Ghost Story series, and Escape from the Brothel can match anything the Europeans make in abundant nudity and sexuality This article or section may deal primarily with the U.S. and may not present a worldwide view. . And they go far beyond even the unrated versions of such U.S. films as Basic Instinct.
Many of these films are erotic thrillers whose plots echo similar American films: Someone has sex and must pay. For example, in Cash on Delivery, the protagonist has a brief encounter with a sexy young woman who develops a fatal attraction to him. When he tries to break things off, their meeting degenerates into a brawl in which he accidentally kills her husband. It turns out that this is what the young woman was planning from the start, and she accuses him of murder. In true movie fashion, the man's girlfriend is a lawyer, and only she can get him free.
But what is unique to many other erotic films made in Hong Kong is their sense of ribaldry Ribaldry
Ridicule (See MOCKERY.)
Boccaccio’s bawdy panorama of medieval Italian life. [Ital. Lit.: Bishop, 314–315, 380]
Droll Tales . We really don't have anything like them in America, although some classics of English literature, such as The Canterbury Tales, are similar to the spirit of these films. Indeed, many of the best of Hong Kong's erotic films draw upon ribald rib·ald
Characterized by or indulging in vulgar, lewd humor.
A vulgar, lewdly funny person.
[From Middle English ribaud, ribald person, from Old French, from classics of Chinese literature.
For example, Sex and Zen is based upon a Chinese classic. In Zen, the leading man, deciding that he is "too small," has a wizard replace his penis with that of a horse. The wizard is one of the clumsiest men around, and before the (bloodless blood·less
1. Deficient in or lacking blood.
2. Pale and anemic in color: smiled with bloodless lips.
3. ) operation is completed, it degenerates into a sickly hilarious piece of slapstick with people getting knocked unconscious and penises rolling around on the floor.
Hong Kong film makers also draw upon Chinese literature and legends for wild epic fantasies. One of the best of this genre is The Bride with White Hair. This film centers on two lovers: a beautiful young woman who is the assassin of an evil cult and a young swordsman who is the champion of those who oppose the cult. Despite its obvious resemblance to Romeo and Juliet Romeo and Juliet
star-crossed lovers die as teenagers. [Br. Lit.: Romeo and Juliet]
See : Death, Premature
Romeo and Juliet
archetypal star-crossed lovers. [Br. Lit. , this film features many touches that are unique to Hong Kong cinema. The leaders of the cult are brother and sister magicians who cannot satisfy their incestuous in·ces·tu·ous
1. Of, involving, or suggestive of incest.
2. Having committed incest. lust because they are joined at the spine, Siamese-twin style.
Nowhere is Hong Kong film's disdain for realism more evident than in this movie. The entire film has the look of a dream. The daytime exteriors were shot at night using artificial lights, giving the movie its strange look.
Some have said that because of this rejection of naturalism, Hong Kong films will never be accepted by mainstream American audiences. Perhaps. But these movies are attracting a growing cult audience in North America. And John Woo has already directed one American film, Hard Target, and is set to direct another. Maybe given a chance, Americans will show themselves just as appreciative of good spectacle as Asians.