Classic Hong Kong Films Pt. 3
The final part of our look at some of the all-time great Hong Kong films, this instalment looks at three of the most influential movies to come from the island.
Long Arm of the Law (1984) Before the likes of John Woo and Ringo Lam made Hong Kong action one of the world's hottest genres, Johnny Mak made this set piece heavy crime flick that drew the blueprint they would follow. It tells the tale of a group of Red Guards who turn to bank robbery in the hope of striking it rich in the ‘new', modernised Hong Kong. Packed with Mexican stand offs, adrenaline fuelled chase sequences and explosive ambushes, its influence on both Asian and American crime cinema of the following decade cannot be overestimated.
The Arch (1969) The Arch depicts the breakdown of a 17th Century widow (Lisa Lu), bedevilled by her desire for a strapping army captain (Roy Chiao) who is simultaneously lusting after her daughter (Hilda Chou Hsuan). An intricately woven visual tapestry by Cecile Tang, it is probably Hong Kong's greatest art-house film and massively influential on independent cinema worldwide over the next twenty years.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000) This gravity defying epic did not just change the world's perception of martial arts movies; it changed the world's perception of Chinese cinema itself. The worldwide acclaim and box office popularity of Ang Lee's masterpiece ushered in a new era, in which Hong Kong film makers produced films with a global audience in mind, rather than an Asian one. Though most talk at the time was of the gorgeously choreographed fight sequences, what one is struck by on re-watching Crouching Tiger… now is how emotionally deep it is. Telling the tale of a deadly sword-for-hire (Chow Yun Fat) and his frustrated desire to settle down with a female warrior played by Michelle Yeoh, it is as much about repressed emotion and thwarted love as it is about fighting. It took home awards worldwide, from the Best Foreign Language Film statue at the Oscars to the Best Film prize at the Hong Kong Film awards.