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StChris

Movies From the Golden Age of Hong Kong Cinema

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StChris
3 hours ago, realmayo said:

I don't know if you've seen Stephen Chow's two "A Chinese Odyssey" films and whether they qualify or are a little too recent (mid 90s). They seemed to be cult classics among university students 20 years ago, I thought they were fantastic.

 

And given you've kick-started some serious reminiscence, how about Farewell My Concubine and Raise the Red Lantern? Although perhaps they have too Mainland a flavour.

 

I watched a lot of Stephen Chow films while living in Thailand. There was this library in Bangkok with a couple of cool "mini cinemas" and a nice selection of Asian films, so I managed to watch a fair few. However, I don't think I've seen those two, so I'll keep them in mind next time I'm in the mood for a comedy.

 

I've seen both Farewell My Concubine and Raise the Red Lantern. Great films (I think I preferred the later), but out the scope of this thread (a Mainland cinema thread would be good to start up someday).

 

3 hours ago, realmayo said:

This film - even just the opening credits with the guy wandering along as a scholar with that umbrella-style backpack (?) bring back really cosy old memories (though not all the way back to 1987...).

 

It's funny how the same film can bring back nostalgia for different time periods, depending on when the viewer saw it. For most Chinese my age, I guess they bring back cosy memories of childhood, my like Indiana Jones films and the Blackadder series do for me. When I reminisce about these 80s/90s Hong Kong films many years from now, it will be that Coronavirus period in the early 2020s when we were all stuck at home with lots of time on our hands that will come mind.

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StChris

 

旺角卡门/As Tears Go By (1988)

 

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刘德华/Andy Lau plays a small time gangster in 1980s Hong Kong. 张曼玉/Maggie Cheung plays his distant relative who comes to stay at his place for a few days so that she can go to a city hospital about the respiratory illness she has been suffering from. This sets up an interesting little dialogue where he tells he to take off her face mask as it looks ugly, but she refuses saying that she needs to wear one to prevent infecting other people - funny to hear this 1980s pro/anti-mask conversation in 2020!

 

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What could have been a simple love story between an innocent small town girl and a handsome big city bad boy is disrupted by the constant failings of 刘德华's "little brother". I didn't know who 张学友/Jacky Cheung was before this movie, but apparently is was/is a hugely famous singer/songwriter. Although more famous for his music career, he puts in a great performance here as the junior partner in 刘德华's little gang, who's repeated failed attempts to gain respect and status in the small-time criminal underworld result in his "big brother" having to constantly step in and clear up the mess. The scene below where he threatens a fellow gangster with a gun seems to have become something of a meme on the Chinese internet, especially the “食屎啦你" line.

 

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The film pretty much revolves around 刘德华 being torn between starting a new life with his new girlfriend, and protecting and sticking up for his incompetent "little brother". In between the bloody fighting scenes, there are also some nice low key ones. I especially liked the one where 刘德华 is talking to his ex-girlfriend in the rain, and the one where 张曼玉 is waiting for him at the ferry terminal. 

 

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The film has a 7.8 豆瓣 rating, and is a tightly told story with little added fluff. It's a story of love, friendship and loyalty that's well worth your time. Here are a couple of youtube videos giving a summary/review of the story:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18lAj7l8KtM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3fHr6mQ--RU

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StChris

国产凌凌漆/From Beijing With Love (1994)

 

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@Flickserve mentioned watching this movie early on in the thread, so I thought I'd give it a try. 周星驰/Stephen Chow plays the spoof spy (it took me way longer than it should have to realise what 凌凌漆 was referring to). He is more "licence to carve fine cuts of pork" than licence to kill and much hilarity ensues as he is sent on a mission to Hong Kong to get a stolen dinosaur fossil back.

 

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For me, the humour was a bit hit and miss. Some of the jokes I could see coming a mile off and some of those overstayed their welcome too, but there were enough funny moments to keep it interesting. Although not as funny as some of Stephen Chow's other work, he still puts in a good performance here, as does his fellow undercover agent, played by 袁咏仪/Anita Yuen. She displays great comic timing, and also does a nice job in her more serious dramatic scenes. They both work really well together, and it's funny seeing her incredulous reactions to Chow's usual comic obliviousness to whatever situation he is in.

 

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There is quite a lot of violence for a comedy movie (at least by western standards), with much more blood than you would typically see in a James Bond film. It's also interesting how the PLA is portrayed, with a mainland general being the main bad guy (I don't think that would wash these days). Of particular interest to Chinese learners is a rare instance of that foreigner favourite phrase, 马马虎虎, actually being used by real Chinese people. It's got an impressive 8.3 rating on Douban. Easy to find online and worth watching for some silly fun.

 

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Flickserve

Stephen Chow movies are about slapstick comedy but very iconic for the  period in question. I think it depends on how you like films. I am very into silly humour - Benny Hill shows, Carry On films and the Kenny Everett show were like my staple diet.

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roddy

Loving this thread. I think "旺角门卡/As Tears Go By (1988)" might have a tiny typo in it, unless that's a Stephen Chow spoof...

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StChris
44 minutes ago, roddy said:

Loving this thread. I think "旺角门卡/As Tears Go By (1988)" might have a tiny typo in it, unless that's a Stephen Chow spoof...

 

Fixed

 

5 hours ago, Flickserve said:

Stephen Chow movies are about slapstick comedy but very iconic for the  period in question. I think it depends on how you like films. I am very into silly humour - Benny Hill shows, Carry On films and the Kenny Everett show were like my staple diet.

 

I watched a couple of his films before I started studying Chinese and really liked them. I remember them having lots of close-ups of him pulling faces and his silly expressions always made me laugh. I think From Beijing With Love was just ok, not great but not bad either. What do you think is his funniest film? I'll make note of it and watch it whenever I'm in the mood for a comedy.

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Flickserve

Funniest? The one I enjoy the most is 賭聖.

 

The original God of Gamblers is a classic spanning a number of spinoffs even to a couple of years ago.  
 

aha. I remember one I particularly enjoyed was 咖喱辣椒 

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StChris

Hearing people rave about Chunking Express makes me really want to watch it, but it's a difficult one to find. I haven't been able to find it on Youtube or the usual Chinese sites, and it's not on Netflix either (their selection of Hong Kong films is a little underwhelming).  A site called The Criterion Channel has it and it looks like they have a 7 day free trial, so maybe I'll give it a shot.

 

9 minutes ago, Flickserve said:

Funniest? The one I enjoy the most is 賭聖.

 

The original God of Gamblers is a classic spanning a number of spinoffs even to a couple of years ago.  
 

aha. I remember one I particularly enjoyed was 咖喱辣椒 

 

Thanks, I'll keep them in mind.

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Garuda

Anyone seen the "two best" movies of the Once Upon a Time In China series?Part 1 and part 2?

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StChris
On 10/15/2020 at 12:51 PM, Garuda said:

Anyone seen the "two best" movies of the Once Upon a Time In China series?Part 1 and part 2?

 

I haven't, but it looks like it was a very well received film back in the day, so I might make it one of my next movies.

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roddy
On 10/6/2020 at 10:34 AM, StChris said:

Hearing people rave about Chungking Express makes me really want to watch it, but it's a difficult one to find.

It's worth finding. If you get that Criterion free trial and haven't seen it, don't miss In the Mood for Love (can't remember if that's been covered up-topic). And while you're there, watch Dragon (Gate) Inn, which is Taiwanese, but will set you up for the remake, New Dragon (Gate) Inn, which is very much Hong Kong. 

 

Edit: Not available in the UK!? Huh.

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Lu
On 10/15/2020 at 1:51 PM, Garuda said:

Anyone seen the "two best" movies of the Once Upon a Time In China series? Part 1 and part 2?

I happened upon part 2 on tv in China once. It introduced to me how ABSOLUTELY AWESOME Jet Li is. That ladder scene is amazing.

 

And yes In the Mood for Love. Everyone always says it's so beautiful and everything, and that is because it is. Plus Maggie Cheung in all those qipaos...

 

I don't know about other countries, but here in the Netherlands those dvd's can be found in thrift stores occasionally.

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StChris

至尊无上/Casino Raiders (1989)

 

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Films about gambling seem to have been a big thing in the late 80s Hong Kong movie industry. In 1989 alone there were at least two high profile films tackling the topic, God of Gamblers and today's featured movie, Casino Raiders. Both would get sequels, so it's safe to assume that they did pretty well at the box office.

 

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I recently saw an interview with 刘德华. Apart from looking amazing for a guy about to enter his 60s, what also struck me was what a calm and cultured gent he appeared to be. Maybe he has just calmed down in his old age, but he appears very different now from the ruffians he always seemed to play in his older movies. The again, maybe he always has been that way, it is called acting after all. In this one he plays a gambling swindler (老千 - new word for me). His childhood friend, played by 谭咏麟, is also a swindler and they are both invited to the US to help out an old acquaintance who works in a casino there. Using the logic that it takes a thief to catch a thief, the two are tasked with the job of exposing how a group of Japanese gamblers have been cheating the system there. 

 

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Although successful in their task, it turns out that those cheating gamblers were part of a Japanese mafia group, and they don't take too kindly to their racket being broken up like that. They look to take revenge on our two protagonists, and that's when things really start to heat up.

 

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Overall it's a decent movie, but at over 2 hours it does drag a little. It is very 80s (even more so than the other films I've covered), featuring things such as smoking indoors, super relaxed airport security, payphones and rich Japanese people. The action scenes are nothing special compared to other movies of the time, and I don't understand enough about card games to enjoy the gambling scenes too much. I don't regret watching it, but I won't go for a repeat viewing. I will probably check out the sequel someday though.

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StChris
23 hours ago, roddy said:

It's worth finding. If you get that Criterion free trial and haven't seen it, don't miss In the Mood for Love (can't remember if that's been covered up-topic). And while you're there, watch Dragon (Gate) Inn, which is Taiwanese, but will set you up for the remake, New Dragon (Gate) Inn, which is very much Hong Kong. 

 

Edit: Not available in the UK!? Huh.

 

I haven't been using my VPN much since I left China, maybe I can find a new use for it here. That said, there are still a huge number of films I haven't watched, so I don't drive myself crazy looking for a way to watch anything - if I can't find one film I simply watch another.

 

With Halloween on the way, does anyone have any Hong Kong horror movie recommendations? I'm going to watch the sequel to A Chinese Ghost story, but that's not really a scary film.

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xinoxanu

In the Mood for Love is an amazing film, should be in your priority list if it isn't already. Easily a masterpiece - and I am the kind of person that would sit though Avengers Endgame before any existential brain teaser. 

 

I first discovered it through this video essay by the NerdWriter: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01E5otZCpqw. I stopped watching the essay 2min in and immediately torrented the hell out of the movie - no regrets whatsoever, I have the Blu-ray! 👀

 

It's available on Prime Video in the UK, and you can get a free trial: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/video/detail/B079R68GK6/ref=atv_dp_share_cu_r

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roddy

Think that might be a slightly different movie on Prime...

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StChris
6 hours ago, xinoxanu said:

Hahaha.

 

Oops my bad, didn't even bother reading the synopsis.

 

This is the right link, but I am not sure if it's available in the UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mood-Love-Tony-Leung/dp/B00ET2I7G4

 

Might actually watch the one I posted as well 😋

 

There seem to be reviews for the Hong Kong version on that first page you linked to, so it seems plenty of other people got confused too 😅

 

Unfortunately, it's not available for UK viewers. Netflix isn't great for Chinese films either, they don't have much of a selection, at least in the UK.

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