movies, that can only be from hongkong...

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movies, that can only be from hongkong...

Postby Ka-Kui » Tue Apr 18, 2006 8:03 pm

hi,

the movies that really give me what i want usually come from kongkong. i'm searching for movies that don't only rock, but also are very unusual compared to hollywood pictures.

for example:
-naked weapon (because of the rape scene)
-hot war (because of the twist in the plot)
-china swordsman 2 (i haven't seen the first part, but the plot of the second rocks a lot)
-sex and zen
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Tue Apr 18, 2006 9:51 pm

Not a bad idea for a thread, although personally, I find the vast majority of Hong Kong pictures - even when they're in famliar genres, to be unique in so many ways. Obviously the pacing and editing of Hong Kong films in nearly all genres is something that sets them apart, as well as - obviously - the action design where present.

While I can't quote it off the top of my head, David Bordwell's book Planet Hong Kong was a real eye-opener despite the fact I'd been watching Hong Kong films for over 17 years by the time I'd read it. He really delves into the cultural-technical differences - not always readily accessible on the surface - that truly separate the cinema of Hong Kong from virtually all others in the world.

That said, if you're looking for extreme cinema, you probably would find much to savour under the "Category III" rating, films like EBOLA SYNDROME, RED TO KILL, RUN AND KILL, the SEX & ZEN Trilogy, the FRUIT IS RIPE trilogy, DR. LAMB, UNTOLD STORY, BROTHER OF DARKNESS, DAUGHTER OF DARKNESS and so on.

A personal favourite of mine, that I've often used to illustrate the all-out hyper nature of Hong Kong cinema is Wong Jing's HIGH RISK, starring Jet Li and Jacky Cheung. But there are so many more...

Quite frankly, most of us here could probably recomment literally HUNDREDS of worthy, uniquely Hong Kong-style pictures. Just order 10 or 20 online and you're bound to come up with some very, very memorable stuff.
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Postby ewaffle » Wed Apr 19, 2006 5:38 pm

While this doesn't address the question as such by listing specific movies (although there are no shortage of them) two aspects of Hong Kong filmmaking stand out as very different in both structure and content from Hollywood movies.

One is developing the backstory--exposition. Many HK filmmakers are able to tell you everything you want to know about the characters in a few lines of dialog. I noticed this in a negative way when I was watching "Jade Fox" and thinking that it was dragging. Then I realized that the characters were spending way too much time discussing what had happened before the movie started and how they became what they were. This quick exposition was very notable in so many of the Kung Fu movies of decades past--"You killed my master, now I am going to kill you".

The second difference happens at the end of the movie--it just ends with no sense of what happens to the characters in the time after the credits start to roll. Especially in Triad themed movies, most of the cast is killed off as happens in a lot of 19th century Italian opera, for example, or especially in the English revenge tragedies. Unlike these forms, though, in which there is a final chorus, aria, soliloquy or apotheosis to tell the audience which of the survivors entered a convent, become the Duke of Alba or married his her true love, HK movies simply stop. Sometimes it is with a set up for a sequel--"Women on the Run" with Farini Cheung and Tamara Gau driving away; others it is just the end, as in "Fox Hunter" with Jordan Chan expiring on a stretcher, the camera panning upward and the final titles shown.

Related to the last point but a matter of content rather than structure is the profligate way in which leading characters are killed off. In Hollywood movies leading good guys and gals almost never die--or if they do it a noble death. Buddy movies generally end with both buddies still breathing. In crime movies the order of death of the characters is often the inverse of the order of the actors' salary but the leads are remain alive. In HK film, although some people are very hard to kill--Micheal Wong absorbs so many bullets that he wouldn't be able to move from the added weight but still doesn't die until he is thrown off a balcony--many more featured characters die than in Hollywood movies.
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Wed Apr 19, 2006 5:56 pm

The second difference happens at the end of the movie--it just ends with no sense of what happens to the characters in the time after the credits start to roll. Especially in Triad themed movies, most of the cast is killed off as happens in a lot of 19th century Italian opera, for example, or especially in the English revenge tragedies. Unlike these forms, though, in which there is a final chorus, aria, soliloquy or apotheosis to tell the audience which of the survivors entered a convent, become the Duke of Alba or married his her true love, HK movies simply stop. Sometimes it is with a set up for a sequel--"Women on the Run" with Farini Cheung and Tamara Gau driving away; others it is just the end, as in "Fox Hunter" with Jordan Chan expiring on a stretcher, the camera panning upward and the final titles shown.


This is probably one of my favourite "differences" in Hong Kong movies. I read somewhere, probably in one of the more common books on Hong Kong film, that this was at least in part due to the tendency of some Chinese audience members - starting when historically, I'm not sure - to walk away when the villain and/or the hero died on screen, since whatever happened after that was basically taken for granted.

Hollywood, and many of the countries that ape it's storytelling style, goes overboard - constantly - trying to wrap up every loose end as if the audience can't be trusted to use their imaginations.


Related to the last point but a matter of content rather than structure is the profligate way in which leading characters are killed off. In Hollywood movies leading good guys and gals almost never die--or if they do it a noble death. Buddy movies generally end with both buddies still breathing. In crime movies the order of death of the characters is often the inverse of the order of the actors' salary but the leads are remain alive. In HK film, although some people are very hard to kill--Micheal Wong absorbs so many bullets that he wouldn't be able to move from the added weight but still doesn't die until he is thrown off a balcony--many more featured characters die than in Hollywood movies.



I think someone around here recently mentioned this phenomenon having it’s roots in Buddhist philosophy? (I could be thinking of another forum, though) Something about life just being one big ball of suffering that often neither evolves nor ends in a fair manner. Obviously, I’m grossly oversimplifying things here, but I do love the unpredictable nature of character development in Hong Kong films more than just about any other country’s cinema. They may often lack the nuance of, say, many American films, but NOT being able to predict the hero/heroine’s fate - let alone those of just about everyone around him or her - is refreshing.
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Postby pjshimmer » Wed Apr 19, 2006 10:59 pm

Well, my answer will be less analytical :) The no-hold-back comedy style is what once set HK movies apart the most for me. Movies like BOYS ARE EASY and SAVIOUR OF THE SOUL are unreproduceable any more, not even in HK.

HK's fascination with penis jokes is probably unrivaled anywhere.
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Wed Apr 19, 2006 11:24 pm

HK's fascination with penis jokes is probably unrivaled anywhere.


Kiddie ones, no less. :?

There is definitely a fondness for base humour in Hong Kong movies that few other countries can match with such consistency and matter-of-factness.
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Postby Ka-Kui » Thu Apr 20, 2006 12:41 am

thanks for the answers!

for me the biggest differences between hollywood and hongkong are the following:

-in (popular) hongkong movies you never feel as if the director didn't care about the project and is making fun of you
-hongkong movies always try to entertain you and keep you interested. with hongkong movies i feel as if i'm really getting what i want.
-hongkong movies usually somehow have an innocent feeling - even "sex and zen" (i only know the first part)!

i can simply identify myself much better with hongkong movies.

Hollywood, and many of the countries that ape it's storytelling style, goes overboard - constantly - trying to wrap up every loose end as if the audience can't be trusted to use their imaginations.


yeah, you often notice with many film makers outside of hollywood that they have been damaged by hollywood and accidently do stuff like that :roll: . probably even people like us would be a little more imaginative if we would live in hongkong.
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Thu Apr 20, 2006 2:19 am

-hongkong movies always try to entertain you and keep you interested. with hongkong movies i feel as if i'm really getting what i want.


So true. At least for us true fans! There's not a lot of "fat" in Hong Kong movies. In fact, I'd take a chance on some zero-budget, shot-on-video Hong Kong junk I picked up in a Chinatown bargain bin before I'd blow six bucks on the latest Hollywood hit from a video rental store. Sure, the low-budget, shot-on-video Hong Kong picture might blow chipmunks, but the fact remains I probably couldn't have predicted it, something I've grown increasingly able to do with "popular" American movies...


-hongkong movies usually somehow have an innocent feeling - even "sex and zen" (i only know the first part)!


I know EXACTLY what you're talking about here. I once likened Hong Kong movies, in a column I wrote for a local newspaper years ago - to the movies that are unspooling in your mind when you're eight or nine years old, reenacting your favourite TV shows in the yard with your friends. Hong Kong filmmakers have managed with very little effort to transpose that innocent, scrappy self-importance to the big screen.


yeah, you often notice with many film makers outside of hollywood that they have been damaged by hollywood and accidently do stuff like that . probably even people like us would be a little more imaginative if we would live in hongkong.


I would say that, among Asian filmmakers in particular, the Koreans are often too likely to adopt American structures and styles without being able to successfully incorporate them into the finished works (though this is hardly always the case!). They still infuse their films with distinctly Korean quirks and social mores, but the predictability factor seems to come from somewhere else....

Japanese and Thai filmmakers seem much more unique in comparison, but for my money, you just can't top the stuff from Hong Kong.
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Postby ewaffle » Thu Apr 20, 2006 5:00 am

Brian Thibodeau wrote:
-
So true. At least for us true fans! There's not a lot of "fat" in Hong Kong movies. In fact, I'd take a chance on some zero-budget, shot-on-video Hong Kong junk I picked up in a Chinatown bargain bin before I'd blow six bucks on the latest Hollywood hit from a video rental store. Sure, the low-budget, shot-on-video Hong Kong picture might blow chipmunks, but the fact remains I probably couldn't have predicted it, something I've grown increasingly able to do with "popular" American movies...


Right on the money. There seems to be a screenplay formula for every type of Hollywood movie with things broken down into small enough pieces so that the mass audience they hope to attract will understand everything and not be challenged.

I recall several years ago attending a matinee of one of the Lethal Weapon movies--my wife is a major Mel Gibson fan. A numbskull seated several rows behind us was trying--aloud--to figure out what was happening on the screen, who was who and why they were doing what they were doing. I felt like asking him how he scraped up the five bucks for the matinee ticket since he was so damned dumb he couldn't figure out a movie made up of gunfights and car chases with random explosions and lots of face pulling by Gibson thrown in.

Unfortunately the guy who can't figure out the simplest plot is the person to whom Hollywood is pitching their current product.

Sorry for hijacking this thread for a rant but--it has become possible to predict what will happen next in an American movie by looking at your watch--"Hmm--about 21 minutes left before the credits role so there should be a major change here with the hero suddenly in danger from a direction that he (and only he) didn't expect."

Blah, blah, blah.
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Postby STSH » Fri Apr 21, 2006 3:21 am

Some counterpoints.

Ka-Kui wrote:-in (popular) hongkong movies you never feel as if the director didn't care about the project and is making fun of you


Tri-Star.

Ka-Kui wrote:-hongkong movies usually somehow have an innocent feeling - even "sex and zen" (i only know the first part)!


Watch parts 2 and 3. 2 is darker, 3 is much darker. That seems to be the trend with Cat III sequels - another is the Erotic Ghost Story series.
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Postby Ka-Kui » Fri Apr 21, 2006 3:17 pm

Watch parts 2 and 3. 2 is darker, 3 is much darker. That seems to be the trend with Cat III sequels - another is the Erotic Ghost Story series.


yeah, i just saw "naked killer" - really no innocent movie. and not even all jackie chan movies have that feeling feeling ("crime story", "thunderbolt"). but i also enjoy movies like that. but movies like the first part of sex and zen are wonderful because they show, that sex szenes and black humor can be completely harmless.

anyway, thanks for the titles guys (which doesn't mean that i wouldn't say no to more ^^).
Last edited by Ka-Kui on Fri Apr 21, 2006 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby isfahani » Fri Apr 21, 2006 5:02 pm

Brian Thibodeau wrote:... In fact, I'd take a chance on some zero-budget, shot-on-video Hong Kong junk I picked up in a Chinatown bargain bin before I'd blow six bucks on the latest Hollywood hit from a video rental store. Sure, the low-budget, shot-on-video Hong Kong picture might blow chipmunks, but the fact remains I probably couldn't have predicted it, something I've grown increasingly able to do with "popular" American movies...


Oh yessss. I get into it with aquaintances who reference popular modern films in conversations, they are still suprised when I say, "Nope haven't seen it yet, ain't going to"... And after the totally predictable conversation about the totally predictable film, they are still trying to go get me to see it, I tell them that I might give it a chance when I am thru with my backlog of films from Asia that I need to see, which is hopefully before I die.

I think the last thing I saw in an American theatre was Kung Fu Hustle, on opening day, just to savor being able to see a sing jai film in a corporate American chain, with subtitles, finally.
It wasn't Royal Tramp, but oh well. The film before that: Shaolin Soccer.
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Postby STSH » Mon Apr 24, 2006 5:02 am

Ka-Kui wrote:but movies like the first part of sex and zen are wonderful because they show, that sex szenes and black humor can be completely harmless.


Along similar lines, try ....

Unforgetful Holiday
Lan Kwai Fong Swingers
Temptation Summary II
Dances With The Snakes
Madam Q (Taiwanese, but filmed in HK)
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Mon Apr 24, 2006 5:31 am

You could probably add THE FRUIT IS SWELLING to that list too. More of a cutesy sex comedy, but definitely has that only-in-Hong-Kong flavour.
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Postby Ka-Kui » Wed Apr 26, 2006 8:54 pm

thanks!

@STSH
where can i get those movies?
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Postby STSH » Thu Apr 27, 2006 1:13 am

Ka-Kui wrote:thanks!

@STSH
where can i get those movies?


Probably difficult to find. Depends how good your local Chinatown sources are. Eastern Heroes used to offer Temptation Summary II under an alt title. LKFS and madam Q should be available on VCD, but may have to get them from Hong Kong.
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Postby STSH » Thu Apr 27, 2006 1:39 am

Brian Thibodeau wrote:You could probably add THE FRUIT IS SWELLING to that list too. More of a cutesy sex comedy, but definitely has that only-in-Hong-Kong flavour.


Along the same or similar lines ...

Crazy Love
Fruit Is Ripe
Girls Unbutton
1/3 Lover
Yu Pui Tsuen II (confusingly re-titled Yu Pui Tsuen in the 1996 re-release - same story as Sex And Zen, but played seriously).
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Postby Brian Thibodeau » Thu Apr 27, 2006 5:10 am

In case Ka-Kui is interested in them, CRAZY LOVE, THE FRUIT IS SWELLING and THE FRUIT IS RIPE, in that order, make up a trilogy of sorts. Actual title of that last one is THE FRUIT IS RIPE 3.

They can be watched in any order, though. :wink:
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Postby Ka-Kui » Fri Apr 28, 2006 4:41 pm

thanks guys! many of the movies i can get at ebay without problems, so i'll just start with them.
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Re: movies, that can only be from hongkong...

Postby hungrytiger » Fri Jul 03, 2009 11:36 pm

red kills red
ebola syndrome
underground banker
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