Books in English on Hong Kong film

Discussions about Hong Kong Movies

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Tue Aug 19, 2008 2:31 pm

There have been some excellent Shaw Brothers books put out by the Hong Kong film archive, though some of them are probably out of print by now, so you might have to source them at other libraries, used book stores, etc.

This link shows some of the wide variety of publications the HKFA has released, including The Shaw Screen, which appears to still be in print. These books are nice because they're often written and edited by local scholars and critics, rather than just outsiders. Others here might have some of these and could verify quality or content.
http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalServi ... html?33,25


.
User avatar
Brian Thibodeau
 
Posts: 3951
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2004 2:50 pm
Location: Near Chinatown

Postby KMGor » Tue Aug 19, 2008 10:21 pm

Brian Thibodeau wrote:There have been some excellent Shaw Brothers books put out by the Hong Kong film archive, though some of them are probably out of print by now, so you might have to source them at other libraries, used book stores, etc.

This link shows some of the wide variety of publications the HKFA has released, including The Shaw Screen, which appears to still be in print. These books are nice because they're often written and edited by local scholars and critics, rather than just outsiders. Others here might have some of these and could verify quality or content.
http://www.lcsd.gov.hk/CE/CulturalServi ... html?33,25


.


Thanks for that link. I'd love to have almost any book on that page. I gotta say though, those delivery charges sure are killer. Still, I'm hoping to convince my college to order some books for the library - they are extremely lacking in texts on Asian film in general, and Hong Kong/China in particular. Well, really, ANYTHING besides Japan is lacking.
KMGor
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2004 3:42 am

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Wed Aug 20, 2008 4:16 pm

KMGor wrote:Thanks for that link. I'd love to have almost any book on that page. I gotta say though, those delivery charges sure are killer.


That's what's prevented me from ordering them, too, though it's cost me knowledge in a sense: there's more out-of-print titles than just what's shown on the list. Not sure where to find info on them, but they've done some real gems over the years. :(





Still, I'm hoping to convince my college to order some books for the library - they are extremely lacking in texts on Asian film in general, and Hong Kong/China in particular. Well, really, ANYTHING besides Japan is lacking.


Not just your library, either. I was recently at the University of Toronto's multi-storey downtown library to shoot some pictures and browsed their film book selection while I was there. Very impressive (wish I had a card), but it only had a handful of (expected) books on Hong Kong cinema, mostly ones name-checked in this thread (Teo, Bordwell et. al), and a smidgen of books on Chinese cinema, but the section on Japanese cinema was, of course, huge. No wonder film scholars/filmmmakers come out of some of these institutions with little respect for Hong Kong cinema outside of the fighting and the gunplay.

We also have something here in town called Cinematheque Ontario, an offshoot of the Film Fest which screens classic films from around the world all year round, usually organized by director, star, country, genre, etc. This summer, they presented 24 Japanese classics (a lot of great Criterion-type stuff) under the banner "Summer In Japan", which was all well and good, but Japanese cinema is represented through this organization nearly every year it seems (Tomo Uchida, Shohei Imamura in 2007, Hiroshi Teshigahara and "Summer Samurai" in 2006). I think they've done one, maybe two Hong Kong retrospectives in the last decade (Heroic Grace in 2006; don't actually recall a Part 1 :?) Of course, even that's better than nothing, but still . . . martial arts, martial arts, martial arts. :?
User avatar
Brian Thibodeau
 
Posts: 3951
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2004 2:50 pm
Location: Near Chinatown

Postby cal42 » Wed Aug 20, 2008 7:24 pm

Well, I've often thought HK films lack credibility and legitimacy precisely because of the martial arts, martial arts, martial arts...but then again, I love those films to bits as much (or maybe more) than anyone.

It's odd, because I've seen some pretty...suspect...Japanese cinema :) .
Heroes of the East - the only blog in the world with the world famous Lam Suet-o-meter!
User avatar
cal42
 
Posts: 467
Joined: Mon Feb 07, 2005 9:45 am
Location: Birmingham, England

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:49 pm

cal42 wrote:Well, I've often thought HK films lack credibility and legitimacy precisely because of the martial arts, martial arts, martial arts...but then again, I love those films to bits as much (or maybe more) than anyone.

It's odd, because I've seen some pretty...suspect...Japanese cinema :) .


I think all countries have their suspect cinema like US with Pauly Shore, Jean Claude Van Damme and Ashton Kutcher led entertainment. Though for many countries, unless we are familiar with the dross (since most of it does not usually get distributed to other countries unless it has a big name) we tend not to think of the failures (of course since this is a HK related site, many are going to be familiar with the good and bad of HK).

Obviously HK (and Taiwan) has had an inordinate amount of Martial Art films (whether Wu Xia or otherwise) and the Triad/cop films have been popular outside of HK too. There is much to be appreciated outside of this (Wong Kar Wai, much of the Hui brothers material which I would love to go over etc...) that hasn't got as much mention (not counting cinephiles with Wong -- Michael or Kar Wai :D).

But I do love those Martial Art and triad/cop films also.
My Amazon Reviews

“That’s Icky to Infinity.” – The Tick
User avatar
Masterofoneinchpunch
 
Posts: 635
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2005 10:39 pm
Location: Modesto, CA

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Wed Aug 20, 2008 8:54 pm

cal42 wrote:Well, I've often thought HK films lack credibility and legitimacy precisely because of the martial arts, martial arts, martial arts...but then again, I love those films to bits as much (or maybe more) than anyone.


I sometimes think this is true in part because of the way those particular films (the martial arts pictures) have been packaged and presented and drooled over here in the west--they're exploitation, basically--thus all but representing Hong Kong filmmaking to the uninformed, who might then blow it off as silly popcorn. That "chopsocky" designation of old did more than enough damage, but it was nice to see a place like Cinematheque at least presenting such films in a serious and scholarly light. (Cinematheque sells memberships, and the programs are curated, so to speak, so it doesn't tend to be crammed with fanboys so much as lovers of world cinema). I just wish they'd do more HK retrospectives. God knows there's enough angles to approach it from (director series, genre series, actor series, political films, musicals).



It's odd, because I've seen some pretty...suspect...Japanese cinema :) .


Indeed! :lol: This is probably why film books and arthouse retrospectives have such an overly familiar, relatively limited selection of films and filmmakers they keep writing about and showing. "If Criterion released it, then we can show it too, because it's important!" etc. etc. I'd piss myself if Cinematheque Ontario, which is actually one of the premier programmers of world cinema in this entire country, actually held a retrospective of Pinky Girl Gang Pictures, or Roman Pornos, or Guinea Pigs, or Pop Music Group Pictures or Yakuza Movies Not Made By Kinji Fukasuku or . . .
User avatar
Brian Thibodeau
 
Posts: 3951
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2004 2:50 pm
Location: Near Chinatown

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:06 pm

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:I think all countries have their suspect cinema like US with Pauly Shore, Jean Claude Van Damme and Ashton Kutcher led entertainment.


Hey maaan, Ashton Kutcher is a comedy genius. You better back away . . .

And that scene with Pauly driving the tractor in SON-IN-LAW? Now that's entertainment.

8)



Obviously HK (and Taiwan) has had an inordinate amount of Martial Art films (whether Wu Xia or otherwise) and the Triad/cop films have been popular outside of HK too. There is much to be appreciated outside of this (Wong Kar Wai, much of the Hui brothers material which I would love to go over etc...) that hasn't got as much mention (not counting cinephiles with Wong -- Michael or Kar Wai :D).


This is why it was so nice to see a seroius retrospective of important Hong Kong martial arts films here a couple years back; their subject matter is such a tightly-interwoven part of the cultural fabric that any serious forum programmer couldn't pay tribute to Hong Kong cinema without acknowledging them at least once in the program. But you're right, how about the Hui comedies (epecially the late 70's ones?). Or Stanley Kwan? Ann Hui? Johnnie To? Edmond Pang? Wong Jing? Anti-mainlander crime films (a la LONG ARM OF THE LAW)? Gambling pictures? Shaw musicals? Non-martial arts police procedurals? The list could go on and on . . . after all, these would be theatrically-exhibited retrospectives in a series/forum that almost always sells out (and probably does in other big cities as well), rather than DVD, so recouping costs is hardly a factor. :?
User avatar
Brian Thibodeau
 
Posts: 3951
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2004 2:50 pm
Location: Near Chinatown

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Wed Aug 20, 2008 9:34 pm

Brian Thibodeau wrote: ... Hey maaan, Ashton Kutcher is a comedy genius. You better back away . . .

And that scene with Pauly driving the tractor in SON-IN-LAW? Now that's entertainment.
... But you're right, how about the Hui comedies (epecially the late 70's ones?). Or Stanley Kwan? Ann Hui? Johnnie To? Edmond Pang? Wong Jing? Anti-mainlander crime films (a la LONG ARM OF THE LAW)? Gambling pictures? Shaw musicals? Non-martial arts police procedurals? The list could go on and on . . . after all, these would be theatrically-exhibited retrospectives in a series/forum that almost always sells out (and probably does in other big cities as well), rather than DVD, so recouping costs is hardly a factor. :?


We will ignore how many films I've seen with Pauly Shore in them:D. Apparently Cal is into Prison Break. Yea, that is a great list (many of those I would like to go over including the Shaw musicals, already watched the bizarre Heaven and Hell :D).

Now back on subject, I highly recommend John Woo: The Films by Kenneth E. Hall (1999). One day I would like to write a review on that book :). A highly detailed, seems to be unknown book, that is quite concise and sublime in its treatment of John Woo, his films and his influences (I've been quoting some of it on Cal's blog). As a plus it even gives HKMDB credit (though it uses the old egret0.stanford.edu address and the even older www.mdstud.chalmers.se).
My Amazon Reviews

“That’s Icky to Infinity.” – The Tick
User avatar
Masterofoneinchpunch
 
Posts: 635
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2005 10:39 pm
Location: Modesto, CA

Postby KMGor » Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:15 pm

It's odd, because I've seen some pretty...suspect...Japanese cinema


Yeah, no kidding. On a side note, since we're mentioning exploitation and martial arts action films... Is it me, or has Japan as a whole somehow forgotten how to make entertaining genre works? They used to pump out quite amusing chambara films constantly, and the better ones of these frequently surpass the "exploitation" level, even though they function on that level as well. The Zatoichi films, for example, almost always features a stunning lead performance by Shintaro Katsu and gorgeous cinematography (often by pretty famous DPs, such as Kazuo Miyagawa). In addition, they'll have great swordfights, quick pacing, good music, and a comfortable runtime in the 80-90 minute range.

Most of the Japanese genre works I've seen after around 1990 are dull, slow, and completely lacking in energy. Even though HK doesn't make as many of them any longer, they're still doing a lot more and usually a much better job than Japan has in this regard. I can't recall anything recent from Japan as good as even the very flawed Dragon Squad.

Masterofoneinchpunch wrote:
Brian Thibodeau wrote: ... Hey maaan, Ashton Kutcher is a comedy genius. You better back away . . .

And that scene with Pauly driving the tractor in SON-IN-LAW? Now that's entertainment.
... But you're right, how about the Hui comedies (epecially the late 70's ones?). Or Stanley Kwan? Ann Hui? Johnnie To? Edmond Pang? Wong Jing? Anti-mainlander crime films (a la LONG ARM OF THE LAW)? Gambling pictures? Shaw musicals? Non-martial arts police procedurals? The list could go on and on . . . after all, these would be theatrically-exhibited retrospectives in a series/forum that almost always sells out (and probably does in other big cities as well), rather than DVD, so recouping costs is hardly a factor. :?


We will ignore how many films I've seen with Pauly Shore in them:D. Apparently Cal is into Prison Break. Yea, that is a great list (many of those I would like to go over including the Shaw musicals, already watched the bizarre Heaven and Hell :D).

Now back on subject, I highly recommend John Woo: The Films by Kenneth E. Hall (1999). One day I would like to write a review on that book :). A highly detailed, seems to be unknown book, that is quite concise and sublime in its treatment of John Woo, his films and his influences (I've been quoting some of it on Cal's blog). As a plus it even gives HKMDB credit (though it uses the old egret0.stanford.edu address and the even older www.mdstud.chalmers.se).


My uncle gave me that book years ago, but I forgot to mention it earlier. To say it was useful when I wrote a paper on Heroic Bloodshed would be an understatement. I don't think there's any better English work on Woo, and it's hard to imagine a much better one being written (well, maybe he'll start making movies more regularly now that Red Cliff is finally basically done, a new book can be written). It even covers his entire career, which is appreciated. I'd barely heard of his comedies before, for example. On a side note, his non-martial arts films before 1985 are pretty hard to find.

Not really a criticism, but the one thing I find a little funny is how seriously he takes some of Woo's lesser films, like Heroes Shed No Tears (entertaining though it may be, I wouldn't exactly put it in the same league as his Chow Yun-fat films, or even Face/Off).

The book is well worth buying, though I might add it can be fairly expensive.
KMGor
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2004 3:42 am

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Thu Aug 21, 2008 9:45 pm

KMGor wrote: ...Most of the Japanese genre works I've seen after around 1990 are dull, slow, and completely lacking in energy.
...
My uncle gave me that book years ago, but I forgot to mention it earlier. To say it was useful when I wrote a paper on Heroic Bloodshed would be an understatement. I don't think there's any better English work on Woo, and it's hard to imagine a much better one being written (well, maybe he'll start making movies more regularly now that Red Cliff is finally basically done, a new book can be written). It even covers his entire career, which is appreciated. I'd barely heard of his comedies before, for example. On a side note, his non-martial arts films before 1985 are pretty hard to find.

Not really a criticism, but the one thing I find a little funny is how seriously he takes some of Woo's lesser films, like Heroes Shed No Tears (entertaining though it may be, I wouldn't exactly put it in the same league as his Chow Yun-fat films, or even Face/Off).

The book is well worth buying, though I might add it can be fairly expensive.


Buy the book used: http://www.amazon.com/dp/0786406194/ He also takes PLAIN JANE TO THE RESCUE quite seriously :) which is not always easy to get. Too bad he doesn't really go over HAND OF DEATH.

Now there have been many great genre movies from Japan in the past ten years (of course lots of dross). In the jidai geki genre, Twilight Samurai (2002), Hidden Blade (2004) and Samurai Fiction (1998).
My Amazon Reviews

“That’s Icky to Infinity.” – The Tick
User avatar
Masterofoneinchpunch
 
Posts: 635
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2005 10:39 pm
Location: Modesto, CA

Postby KMGor » Thu Aug 21, 2008 10:51 pm

Maybe it's just a personal feeling of mine, but I don't really count Twilight Samurai and Hidden Blade as the genre works I'm talking about. They're more period dramas that have one or two scenes of fighting in them. They're definitely excellent films though - Twilight Samurai is one of the best films I've seen period.

I'm talking more like pure action/exploitation films, like some of the 70s yakuza pictures, Lone Wolf and Cub, Sonny Chiba films, or the previously mentioned Zatoichi series. I've seen films that attempt this sort of style in Japan, like some Miike films (well, kinda) or the more recent Machine Girl, but they're pale imitations.

Samurai Fiction is one of the closer ones, but I didn't really like it, personally. My friends love it though. :)
KMGor
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2004 3:42 am

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Thu Aug 21, 2008 11:31 pm

KMGor wrote:Maybe it's just a personal feeling of mine, but I don't really count Twilight Samurai and Hidden Blade as the genre works I'm talking about. They're more period dramas that have one or two scenes of fighting in them. They're definitely excellent films though - Twilight Samurai is one of the best films I've seen period.

I'm talking more like pure action/exploitation films, like some of the 70s yakuza pictures, Lone Wolf and Cub, Sonny Chiba films, or the previously mentioned Zatoichi series. I've seen films that attempt this sort of style in Japan, like some Miike films (well, kinda) or the more recent Machine Girl, but they're pale imitations.

Samurai Fiction is one of the closer ones, but I didn't really like it, personally. My friends love it though. :)


Ahh more of the chambara genre (like the Zatoichi series and Lone Wolf and Cub), you did state "...Most of the Japanese genre works I've seen..." later in that post and I added the Jidai Geki genre :). Hmmm, I'll have to think more than. Most of the Japanese films I've seen the past couple of years have been Akira Kurosawa, Yasujiro Ozu, Hayao Miyazaki and Seijun Suzuki directed movies (mostly Criterion and Eclipse).

Did you like the Takashi Kitano's Zatoichi (or Sonatine for a Yakuza film)?

I didn't want to bring Miike into it :D, he has always been intermittently interesting to me.
My Amazon Reviews

“That’s Icky to Infinity.” – The Tick
User avatar
Masterofoneinchpunch
 
Posts: 635
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2005 10:39 pm
Location: Modesto, CA

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Fri Aug 22, 2008 3:11 am

There's always this . . . or not. :lol:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdY7im7DEFI

Image
User avatar
Brian Thibodeau
 
Posts: 3951
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2004 2:50 pm
Location: Near Chinatown

Postby KMGor » Sat Aug 23, 2008 11:32 pm

Brian Thibodeau wrote:There's always this . . . or not. :lol:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdY7im7DEFI

Image


It's better than you would think. Decent action scenes at least, with some pretty nice visual flourishes. Not a whole lot else, but it's really not as awful as you might think. It was quite a bit better than Machine Girl at least.

I borrowed it from a friend. :D
KMGor
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2004 3:42 am

Postby ewaffle » Sun Aug 24, 2008 5:56 am

Brian Thibodeau wrote:There's always this . . . or not. :lol:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdY7im7DEFI


This movie shows up on YesAsia at a much higher price than I am willing to pay. I have tried a few other sits (HKFlix, GreenCine, Poker Industries, Amazon.com) without finding it.

Is there a good site I am overlooking?
User avatar
ewaffle
 
Posts: 737
Joined: Fri Nov 12, 2004 1:53 am
Location: Motown, Michigan, USA

Postby KMGor » Sun Aug 24, 2008 4:26 pm

ewaffle wrote:
Brian Thibodeau wrote:There's always this . . . or not. :lol:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdY7im7DEFI


This movie shows up on YesAsia at a much higher price than I am willing to pay. I have tried a few other sits (HKFlix, GreenCine, Poker Industries, Amazon.com) without finding it.

Is there a good site I am overlooking?


YesAsia says it isn't released. Copy I saw must have been a bootleg?

Anyway, two of the games are getting US releases in a few months. That might lead to a US DVD release, who knows? Then again, Machine Girl got an almost immediate release...

Either way, I wouldn't expect the Japanese disc to drop in price, or even vary too much in online pricing. Japanese DVDs are always insanely overpriced, even on older films.
KMGor
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2004 3:42 am

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Sun Aug 24, 2008 9:03 pm

KMGor wrote:YesAsia says it isn't released. Copy I saw must have been a bootleg?


Presumably.

I actually watched MACHINE GIRL about a week ago it met expectations fairly well, based on what I'd seen from the trailer. Of course it's flawed, and I'm sure ONECHANBARA is too, but they generally deliver what they promise on meagre budgets, so I can't imagine the newer film wouldn't too. I do tend to agree with Bryan Hartzheim's take at Asia Pacific Arts.com that it's the kind of movie that uses self-imposed ironic distance to deflect "serious" criticism or study and seems to hamper the critical faculties of people when it comes to reviewing exploitation/trash films, but I guess that's what makes a guilty pleasure a guilty pleasure. :oops:

.
User avatar
Brian Thibodeau
 
Posts: 3951
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2004 2:50 pm
Location: Near Chinatown

Postby KMGor » Sat Aug 30, 2008 6:02 am

Brian Thibodeau wrote:
KMGor wrote:YesAsia says it isn't released. Copy I saw must have been a bootleg?


Presumably.

I actually watched MACHINE GIRL about a week ago it met expectations fairly well, based on what I'd seen from the trailer. Of course it's flawed, and I'm sure ONECHANBARA is too, but they generally deliver what they promise on meagre budgets, so I can't imagine the newer film wouldn't too. I do tend to agree with Bryan Hartzheim's take at Asia Pacific Arts.com that it's the kind of movie that uses self-imposed ironic distance to deflect "serious" criticism or study and seems to hamper the critical faculties of people when it comes to reviewing exploitation/trash films, but I guess that's what makes a guilty pleasure a guilty pleasure. :oops:

.


That's a very good way of stating it, particularly in regards to Machine Girl. MG has a lot of ridiculous dialogue, silly long takes, and deliberately exaggerated mannerisms and acting.

Onechanbara takes itself more seriously than Machine Girl though - there's some overacting and such, but much of it is played surprisingly seriously.

In both films cases, I think they could have been helped a lot by deleting as much footage as possible. It's fine if you can't give me enough gags and action scenes to support your plodding and boring story for 90 minutes - just release a 60 minute movie then! Of course, maybe they're under contractual obligations in regards to runtime.
KMGor
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2004 3:42 am

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:16 pm

Well I'm almost done with CHINA FOREVER: The Shaw Brothers and Diasporic Cinema. Has anyone else read this or been reading it? I'll probably finish it this weekend and maybe start on a review.

Unfortunately, a bit dissapointing with some good chapters and so far one weak chapter (Sundiata Keita Cha-Jua's "Black Audiences, Blaxploitation, and Kung Fu Films" which has almost nothing to do with the Shaw Brothers and actually not that much to do with HK films except for Bruce Lee.) I enjoyed the specific chapters on Shaw's Cantonese films, one on Malay, one on Wenyi (not all the chapters either are necessarily on the topic of Diasporic cinema though) and other interesting chapters.

It does completely ignore the explotation films of Shaws as well as their is very little on the Wuxia and Kung Fu films (this is weird to me, they miss a golden opportunity in this).
My Amazon Reviews

“That’s Icky to Infinity.” – The Tick
User avatar
Masterofoneinchpunch
 
Posts: 635
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2005 10:39 pm
Location: Modesto, CA

Postby AV1979 » Sat Sep 13, 2008 2:39 am

Hey everyone,
Well, the first I ever read on the subject was Bey Logan's book Hong Kong Action Cinema and it inspired me. When I took up Film Studies in school, I specialized in Hong Kong films. I would end up reading Sex & Zen and a Bullet in the Head, Hollywood East, Planet Hong Kong, and City on Fire.

Here's something I think you guys may have interest in. Lisa Odham Stokes, the author of both City on Fire and The Encyclopedia of Hong Kong Cinema, is a teacher at the school where I work and where do I work??? The school's library!!! It is Seminole Community College in Central Florida :) I haven't met her yet, but most likely will meet her in the near future. :D
User avatar
AV1979
 
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 1999 4:42 am
Location: Deltona, FL, USA

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Sat Sep 13, 2008 5:37 am

Welcome back! ;)

I thought Stokes' take on the city's cinema in CITY ON FIRE was quite interesting. I know she has her detractors because of her methodology in that book, but many of the readings she applies to the films actually make sense. Of course, others don't benefit from her Marxist filters, so it's hit and miss. Do share some thoughts if you ever get a chance to chat with her.
User avatar
Brian Thibodeau
 
Posts: 3951
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2004 2:50 pm
Location: Near Chinatown

Postby AV1979 » Sun Sep 14, 2008 1:02 am

I definitely plan to. I heard the same thing from one of her former students who is now one of the computer techs at the school. We had this interesting discussion on Hong Kong films the other day with my co-worker, who is a "rookie" at the new HK cinema. I recommended Flash Point and S.P.L. for its use of MMA style in the choreography and my co-worker seems to want to get into it, so that's a good thing.
User avatar
AV1979
 
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 1999 4:42 am
Location: Deltona, FL, USA

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Thu Sep 18, 2008 10:57 pm

A bit more on "China Forever: The Shaw Brothers and Diasporic Cinema" book review:

The Shaw Brothers is one of the most important film studios in the history of Asian cinema. Their influence on pan-Asian entertainment cannot be overstated. Though Celestial Pictures bought the rights to the entire Shaw Brothers film library (US$84 mil) and started releasing them in 2002 (for years before people had to rely on bootlegs to watch their films), it took until 2008 for an English-language book dedicated to this studio to be published.

"China Forever: The Shaw Brothers and Diasporic Cinema" states that "This is the first English-language book devoted to the study of a single Chinese-language film studio in a global historical context." it is far from definitive with a few gargantuan omissions. In the collection of essays it has not one chapter dedicated on either of the two most famous of the Shaw Brothers oeuvre – the Mandarin wuxia and kung fu movies. Poshek Fu missed a golden opportunity with this mistake. This book also completely ignores the exploitation cinema that included such cult hits as Black Magic, Boxer's Omen and Killer Snakes. All three of these genres were crucial in transnational sales. However for students of Hong Kong cinema and especially for interest of those in the Shaw Brothers this is still a valuable book with several excellent essays and a couple of questionable value.

When dealing with collections of short essays the quality of the whole should be determined by the editor. Unfortunately, when the introduction by Editor Poshek Fu contains a few errors and information that does not coincide with other authors this could be construed as an inauspicious foreshadow of things to come. He makes a couple of minutia type errors like stating the founding of Tianyi is 1925 as opposed to the other authors information and the Shaw Brothers website of 1924 (he also translate Tianyi as Number One instead of the authors translation of Unique). He also makes more egregious mistakes like dating Five Fingers of Death at 1965 (it was 1972) and stating on Cheng Pei-pei "After a long retirement from acting, she recently returned to the screen with the role of Jade Fox in Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." He makes it seem that she just recently came back to acting after a long retirement, when in fact (and even mentioned in her essay) that she came back in Painted Faces (1988) and even had over 10 acting appearances between that film and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Fortunately this is not indicative of the majority of the material.

There are several fascinating chapters on the Shaws Cantonese cinema, their musicals, their wenyi (loosely known as melodrama) films and their malay films – most of which are not on DVD. These discuss the importance of the dialect cinema, the Shaws rival company MP & GI and the history of The Shaw Brothers – how they thought global and acted locally. There is so much useful information on the earlier period of the Shaw Brothers, though there remains much to be learned from the unreleased films. Then there are two chapters that mostly focus on a specific film: one on Hong Kong Nocturne (1967) and Love Eterne (1963) – I will probably find these more worthwhile after watching those movies.

There are two out-of-place chapters start with "Black audiences, blaxploitation, and Kung Fun films" which has very little to discuss on the Shaw Brothers (though a nuanced look at blaxploitation) and focuses more on Golden Harvest and Bruce Lee. The second "Shaw Brothers Cinema and the Hip-Hop Imagination" which despite its title has very little to do with the titular studio except for the movie "The 36th Chamber of Shaolin" and its relation to the hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. Both of these could be useful in other collections, but there inclusion here seems problematic because of the exclusion of the genres that I mentioned earlier.

Luckily, the final chapter is an excellent, albeit too short essay by Hong Kong actress Cheng Pei-pei: "Reminiscences of the Life of an Actress in Shaw Brothers' Movietown" which pretty much describes the chapter. Her feelings are so positive that they are infectious, even though she talks about several suicides that happened on Movietown (Qin Jian and Li Ting) that there is darker side to this movie studio left unexplored by this book.

While not perfect, I expect many fans of the Shaw Brothers to want to add this volume to their library. Several of the chapters are worth having for reference and rereading. However, there is still an opening for an English language edition on the Shaw Brothers to be much more inclusive and cohesive. Now who is going to write it?
My Amazon Reviews

“That’s Icky to Infinity.” – The Tick
User avatar
Masterofoneinchpunch
 
Posts: 635
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2005 10:39 pm
Location: Modesto, CA

Postby KMGor » Fri Sep 26, 2008 1:20 am

Luckily, the final chapter is an excellent, albeit too short essay by Hong Kong actress Cheng Pei-pei: "Reminiscences of the Life of an Actress in Shaw Brothers' Movietown" which pretty much describes the chapter.


Just curious - how is her writing? Anyone know if she has written anything else? I've gathered she's actually fairly eloquent, and her commentary for the recent DVD of Come Drink With Me is supposed to be pretty good.
KMGor
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2004 3:42 am

Postby Masterofoneinchpunch » Fri Sep 26, 2008 3:59 pm

KMGor wrote:
Luckily, the final chapter is an excellent, albeit too short essay by Hong Kong actress Cheng Pei-pei: "Reminiscences of the Life of an Actress in Shaw Brothers' Movietown" which pretty much describes the chapter.


Just curious - how is her writing? Anyone know if she has written anything else? I've gathered she's actually fairly eloquent, and her commentary for the recent DVD of Come Drink With Me is supposed to be pretty good.


Well technically it is translated by Jing Jing Chang and Jeff McClain, but it is a concise and interesting read with plenty of pertinent information. Her thoughts are fluid, in the first person (thank goodness) and witty. With footnotes a total of nine pages in this book. Way too short -- she is a treasure trove of information (her commentary on the Dragon Dynasty, notes of it are posted in the commentaries thread, is excellent).

I am not familiar with any other written material from her (if I find some I will definitely note it here). However, in the chapter she talks about interviewing Hui Ying-hung, unfortunately the source material is not mentioned in the endnotes -- so this could have been a video interview.

If you want I could quote all the highlights on this chapter (I tend to highlight all interesting statements in books so I go back later and keep the quotations).
My Amazon Reviews

“That’s Icky to Infinity.” – The Tick
User avatar
Masterofoneinchpunch
 
Posts: 635
Joined: Mon Mar 28, 2005 10:39 pm
Location: Modesto, CA

Postby dleedlee » Sun Oct 05, 2008 2:20 pm

I thought I'd post this review here rather than in the news forum:

Hong Kong New Wave Cinema: 1978-2000

http://www.asiaarts.ucla.edu/081003/art ... ntID=98324
饮水思源 Better to light a candle than curse the darkness; Measure twice, cut once. Check yourself...Punctuation.
Pinyin to Wade-Giles. Proper nouns & proper adjectives. Titles tool
User avatar
dleedlee
HKMDB Immortal
 
Posts: 4811
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2001 7:06 pm
Location: USA

Postby KMGor » Sun Oct 19, 2008 10:11 pm

I saw this book went up on Amazon a while ago...

http://www.amazon.com/Asian-Influence-Hollywood-Action-Films/dp/0786434031/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1224453303&sr=8-4

The Asian Influence on Hollywood Action Films

By Barna William Donovan

"Filmmakers of the Pacific Rim have been delivering punches and flying kicks to the Hollywood movie industry for years. This book explores the ways in which the storytelling and cinematic techniques of Asian popular culture have migrated from grainy, low-budget martial arts movies to box-office blockbusters such as The Magnificent Seven, Star Wars, The Matrix and Transformers. While special effects gained prominence, the raw and gritty power of live combat emerged as an audience favorite, spawning Asian stars Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan and martial arts-trained stars Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal. As well as capturing the sheer onscreen adrenaline rush that characterizes the films discussed, this work explores the impact of violent cinematic entertainment and why it is often misunderstood."


Just curious if anyone has read it (or anything else by the author for that matter)? I was tempted to pick it up til I saw the price tag. I was unable to find anything else by the author either. After some of the previous books on asian action films I have purchased and seen at the library, I'm a little leery of picking up an unknown title at that price...

Still, I like the subject matter a lot. Just worried I wouldn't learn anything new.
KMGor
 
Posts: 74
Joined: Thu Sep 16, 2004 3:42 am

Postby dleedlee » Wed Oct 29, 2008 6:38 pm

Travel with Lisa Stokes next summer!
Study Chinese Cinema--go to China to see how the movies are made
http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/entert ... ese-c.html
饮水思源 Better to light a candle than curse the darkness; Measure twice, cut once. Check yourself...Punctuation.
Pinyin to Wade-Giles. Proper nouns & proper adjectives. Titles tool
User avatar
dleedlee
HKMDB Immortal
 
Posts: 4811
Joined: Wed Aug 01, 2001 7:06 pm
Location: USA

Postby Brian Thibodeau » Wed Oct 29, 2008 6:58 pm

Shame that Hong Kong is an "optional extension" in this, but at least it's there I guess. Also a bit strange that she couldn't pick something newer—and less studied—than THE KILLER as the representative Hong Kong film, important though it is. I'm biased, I'll admit it, but I'd much rather spend some time observing filmmaking within the current Hong Kong industry—where some really good stuff is being done with very limited resources—than the current mainland arena where everything kinda . . . blends after a while.
User avatar
Brian Thibodeau
 
Posts: 3951
Joined: Thu Jan 08, 2004 2:50 pm
Location: Near Chinatown

Postby AV1979 » Fri Nov 07, 2008 8:19 pm

dleedlee wrote:Travel with Lisa Stokes next summer!
Study Chinese Cinema--go to China to see how the movies are made
http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/entert ... ese-c.html


yeah major thing going on here at SCC, where she works. They had a huge display with Chinese artifacts. I wish I would be going. She actually invited me and my supervisor to a screening of Ashes of Time Redux on 11/18. Not sure if I can go due to work but it would be cool.
"Don't concentrate on the finger or you will miss all that heavenly glory"
-Bruce Lee
User avatar
AV1979
 
Posts: 125
Joined: Mon Nov 22, 1999 4:42 am
Location: Deltona, FL, USA

PreviousNext

Return to Hong Kong Movies

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron