Classic Hong Kong Films Pt. 1
Hong Kong has long been one of the world's most vibrant hubs for cinema. Thanks to its historical roots as a British colony, Hong Kong enjoyed a greater freedom of expression during the middle part of the last Century than mainland China and so its film making thrived. For decades it sat behind Bollywood and Hollywood as the third biggest producer of motion pictures on the planet.
As you would imagine, Hong Kong has thrown out its fair share of classic movies over the years. This series of articles will look at some of the most famous, beginning with two of Asian cinemas most celebrated and influential crime thrillers.
Hard Boiled (1992) The film that brought the Hong Kong crime genre and its director John Woo to mainstream international attention actually didn't get a warm reception when released in its native country. The balletic, bullet strewn action of Hard Boiled did not go down as well as Woo's previous hits The Killer and A Better Tomorrow in Hong Kong but when it premiered in the US, the sheer, visceral mayhem of it all had the audience's leaping to their feet and yelling joyously at the screen. The story involved HK police officer ‘Tequila' Yeun, played by Chow Yun Fat, who is determined to take down a violent Triad gang. A must-see movie for fans of OTT, high octane violence, Hard Boiled was a turning point in the history of the action genre.
Infernal Affairs (2002) Telling the tale of a police officer (Tony Leung) sneaking undercover in a Triad gang, while a triad (Andy Lau) infiltrates the cops, this serpentine thriller was considered a ‘box office miracle' on its release and was followed by two, equally gripping, sequels. It's a cerebral tale with a brilliantly muscular narrative and a collection of superb performances from an all-star cast. It also became well known in the West after Martin Scorsese remade it as The Departed in 2006, a film that brought the story to the mean streets of South Boston and ended up awarded Best Film at the Oscars. Scorsese's take was good but it is not a patch on the white-knuckle tension and bravura story telling of the original.