HK Cinema - 1979
Though it wasnt entirely the case, it almost
seems like the 1970s produced nothing but kung-fu films. Some of these
were wonderful imaginative and innovative but many more looked as if
they came off of a mass production line. The same plots, the same stars,
the same action. By the end of the 70s the kung-fu craze was playing out
and it was time for something new. Along came a fellow by the name of Tsui
Hark who was to change the face of HK films forever.
Hark was born in Vietnam, but moved to HK as a
teenager. He developed an interest in film and decided to go to the University
of Texas film school. He returned to HK in the 70's and worked in TV for
a while. He directed a well received series called The Gold Dagger Romance.
HK television in the late 70's and early 80's was very experimental and
many of the future directors got important training there. Hark made his
first film The Butterfly Murders in 1979, a strange tale of killer butterflies
set in the martial art world. Not only was the plot very imaginative, but
Hark displayed some of the visual flair for which his films would become
In this same year, Ann Hui would direct her first
film The Secret starring Sylvia Chang in a dark thriller. These two
directors along with Allen Fong, Patrick Tam, Alex Cheung and Yim Ho have
been referred to as The New Wave. Though they were certainly building on
the films that had come before them King Hu, Tang Shuxuan these directors
were intent on creating serious artistic films that were often very personal.
Ann Huis films share very little in common
with Tsui Harks. They are much smaller in scale, more relationship oriented.
She is still directing films today and some of her best known films are
Ah Kam (with Michelle Yeoh), The Story of Woo Viet (with Chow Yun Fat),
Song of Exile (with Maggie Cheung) and a historical saga Romance of Book
and Sword/Princess Fragrance.
But it was Hark and his glorious special effect
laden films that were to prove the most influential over the next fifteen