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Let's Talk about Hong Kong Films for a Hot Minute...

It's no secret that I am Chinese, from Hong Kong. I think I made it plainly obvious with the fact that I curated an entire list of Hong Kong cafes in Tokyo and the recent post of me being East Asian in Japan.


(please check out the list, I promise I don't disappoint!)


Of course, as an Asian kid growing up in a western country, I too have gone though a phase of trying to reject my heritage and my roots. But eventually, I took interest in it again through music and films - though a bit unconventional.


I was 12 at the time. Everyone was crazy over Avril Lavigne. And rightfully so! She's extremely talented and there were some serious bops created then. But I wasn't a fan, necessarily. I accepted that she was good but I never took to any obsession with her or any of the "younger" it singers and actors at the time (High School Musical anyone?).


Instead, I fell head over heels over (at the time) 45-ish year old Andy Lau Tak Wah.



Considered one of 4 Heavenly Kings in the music industry of Hong Kong (the other 3 being Aaron Kwok, Leon Lai and Jacky Cheung), he was also acclaimed as an actor. He was most active out of the 4 Kings at the time, and have been famed the title of being an Ox not only because he was born the year of an ox, but also for being extremely hardworking - to the point where it really wasn't that uncommon to see at least 3 or 4 films out by him in one year. On top of music world tour and releases of music! His filmography in the 90s up until the late 2000s is quite uncanny for a rather lesser entertainment industry at the time.


But you get the point. I like this man. A lot.


Heck, I even did a school project on him! I think a lot of friends were rather concerned that I was into men with a age gap and it would reflect in real life (nope, thank god!).


Not only for the age gap, but I think most people associated Hong Kong film at the time with Kung Fu and Gangster films. Bruce Lee, Stephen Chow, Jordan Chan - all these names wouldn't have been unusual for someone to get into Hong Kong entertainment from. For the younger generation like us, there were even an entire sleuth of young music artists and actors I could have chosen. Joey Yung, Jay Chow, Twins.... and while I did like them, it wasn't quite the same.


Point is, my Cantonese is as good as it is now is thanks to him.


And one other player which you've all been recently introduced to internationally:



Recognize him? Yes, the acclaimed Tony Leung Chiu Wai from the Marvel films. My man. A total sweetheart and so down to earth despite his fame. I have had the chance to interact with him but that's another story for another time :)


These two single-handedly carried the Hong Kong film industry in my opinion and not made a total fool out of it after the hype over Wuxia and Kung Fu was no longer at its peak. Whether that's in the film depicted in these two photos of them, Infernal Affairs (this film is why The Departed exists, ok), or otherwise - they have both created a great number of local successes that were actually memorable and contained value messages in life of sorts.


My personal favourite from Tony are actually some of his least popular films. My Lucky Star, a romance film he did with Miriam Yeung. It was rather subjective, but there was an overwhelming consensus that Miriam was a terrible actress (her singing was also... well). The fact that he still managed to make this film watchable and pulled at heartstrings is a miracle if you ask me.


Tokyo Raider. No had nothing to do Tomb Raider. I mean, there's nothing really to write home about. It's not any artistic film that the west seems to love about Asian "exotic" films (that's also, another topic for another time), it's supposed to be a fun, action film. Hong Kong had a lot of those at the time. Fun comedies. Fun romances. Fun gangsters. But they were all extremely stupid and almost braindead. Zero substance. So to fun action film that actually had people try to act was really refreshing at the time and remains one of my Tony Leung favs. Also who doesn't like guys in long trench coats? Come on.


Now, Andy. Gameboy Kids with his fellow heavenly king, Aaron Kwok. Hands down. One of my favourite fun, geeky Hong Kong films.


Dance of a Dream which has the late Anita Mui always has a HUGE spot in my heart. There's not a lot of films in Hong Kong that try to mimic a more musical-type film, but this one tried. It wasn't great, but there's a bit cultural references that makes it really nostalgic for locals. I personally love it because it's so down to earth. The film follows Sandra Ng's character, where her character really isn't charismatic nor attractive. She goes through the events of the films, falls in love with Andy's character but realizes she wasn't the one and goes through a series of reflections, self-discovery and reliance on new friendships. It's tiring to go through the whole "ugly duckling" troupe, but its nice to see one film that doesn't completely follow through. And Andy dances in the film, so that's all I needed to say, right?


I also have so many memories of me forcing my poor poor friends to watch this film and making them dance to this terrible number:



Yeah, I am a amazing Hong Kong entertainment ambassedor ok.


I'm also a fan of anything Andy Lau does with Sammi Cheng. These two friends are the Kimura Takuya and Matsu Takako of Hong Kong golden combi, and no one can convince me otherwise.


Andy and Tony both are genuinely great, hardworking actors.


In very different ways. Despite Tony Leung having taken the award for best actor home over Andy Lau for Infernal Affairs, I don't particularly think Andy's acting is lacking - just different. As Tony put it in this interview below: it's luck that won him the award. (don't we just love a humble king?)



But essence, they are two VERY different actors. Tony Leung is more stoic, and is the art of mimic. He thinks a lot about his characters and really gets into the mind of it. Andy appears more outgoing and almost acts in a way that reacts to those around him, a more spontaneous act if you will. Both necessary components of an actor and why I think these two are such a legendary pair and why I am sooooooooooooooooooo excited to see them act together again!!!



I really didn't think I'd ever see these two act again in my lifetime, but I feel absolutely blessed. Truly. I don't have many joys in life but these two, along with my personal favourite sweetheart Charlene Choi (Twins) are all going to be in it. I am. So. Stoked.


Even Tony Leung's wife Carina Lau posted about it:



The "dream team", she write.


HELL YEAH. She is actually the reason I found out about it in October... hahaha ;;; Yeah, actually I really haven't been caught up with any Hong Kong films since forever. And I haven't been this excited over Hong Kong anything for a long time.


I don't know if it'll be good. I only hope it will be. And I trust it will.


Kind of wish I was in Hong Kong for this when it comes out in December, but hey. I've already got my two kings in one movie, I cannot complain.


And did I write all of that just to say I'm excited for one damn film??


Yes. Yes I did. :p




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