Tag Archives: hong kong

MIFF 2020: Hong Kong Moments (2020)

Director: Bing Zhou

Considering how many movies I have watched from this city over the years I have somewhat of a vested interested in the current issues there. I sort of know people who live there now or just like annoying them on the internet and was following the whole thing via twitter and social media via multiple accounts right up to the point people started being set on fire. Given the bushfire situation in Australia at the time, it was just all too much for me and I had to stop following everything from that city apart from the regular media.

It is hard to get a sense of what was actually going on during the protests just following the activist accounts as they tended to amplify and focus on every little thing and it was just too close to everything. Any other opinion was blocked out and shouted down online until it seemed like only one side was the correct one.

Seeing how events you are directly involved in contribute to history is almost impossible as you are right there and can’t see the perspective. Given the long colonial history of Hong Kong and the British East India Company in China these are issues that are hundreds of years old already.

This documentary is different in that there is no narrator or anyone connecting the different people’s stories together. There are seven different people’s experiences shown from taxi driving uncles, teahouse owner aunties, a PTU officer, a front line protestor, councillors on the government and pro-democracy side and an EMT who attended the protests for several months.

From what the director said they had seven different teams following the people over the same time period. There were professionals doing the drone shots and they made an official application to be accredited as media and where open and honest as to what the footage would be used for.

The camera operator at the front line protests was an Australian and had the full protective gear including a bullet proof vest.

Something that really stood out was them having a police officer’s viewpoint and they said it took at least a month to get approval to film with them. The police officer said he does not mind being trashed online, but has trouble with his family going through the same thing. He admits he is the same age as a lot of the protestors.

Even the hard line frontline protestor admitted that the government had been playing the protestors and police off each other to gain the favour of the public to their own ends. “If I had a gun I would not want to shoot a cop”.

With the insane partisan politics of how things are discussed online or in the Murdoch mainstream media these days, it was refreshing to see the actual people behind the viewpoints and you can’t just outright dismiss their opinions if you know why they hold them and how they came about them.

This documentary will be a subject of study in politics and social studies classes for many years to come and will hopefully get a wider audience online even if a lot of people behind the Chinese firewall will not get to see it.



Q&A at DOK.fest Munich 2020

MIFF 2019: Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks (2019)

Director: Serge Ou

Featuring: Cheng Pei-pei, Sammo Hung, Cynthia Rothrock, Richard Norton, Billy Blanks, Brian Trenchard-Smith, JuJu Chan, Jessica Henwick, Mike Leeder, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Michael Jai-White and many more


Kung Fu demonstration before the premiere


I was looking forward to this documentary as I have been a fan of Hong Kong cinema and Kung Fu movies for a long time. I would not call myself an expert but I have had a site on them for almost 20 years (http://hkmovies.timchuma.com ) For a long time I did not know anyone else I could talk about them with, which is why I set up the site and the only other person I knew who had a movie review site said I should put them on my own site.

I had not heard of the director before and he is not on any of the discussion groups I am on even the one that actual film makers and writers read and post to. Some of the people interviewed in the documentary are though and that’s the main thing.

The documentary starts around the time of the riots in Hong Kong in the 1960s which is eerily prescient. The anger from society carried over into the cinema of the time and more violent cinema from Shaw Brothers studio was a result.

I would say about the first 25% of the film is about Shaw Brothers. It could have easily been a documentary on its own. (The author of a book on the studio wanted to go to the screening but could not make it.

As they say in the film the studio was focussed on making money and they were so successful in the 60s and 70s they were not used to being told no and were slow to change. Their subsequent rejection of both Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan was a result of this. They did try and change in the 80s towards the end of their run with some ground breaking works such as Demon of the Lute and the Boxers Omen but by then it was too late.

After Bruce Lee became famous there were was a flood of Brucesploitation movies and also a ton of Kung Fu films screened in Times Square “There were two genres: kung fu and porn!” Having a cheap form of entertainment easily accessible to young African American youth meant it became very popular amongst them and a lot of the films started screening in double bills with Blaxploitation titles. I wish they had have shown something from the Last Dragon as the theatre scene from that movie is on point.

The influence of the movies on hip hop and breakdancing is explored by one of the artists saying they studied the movies to learn the moves. The original Shaw Brothers movies were operas and comedies. There is a Journey to the West series of movies from the 60s were Pigsy sings about having “waist and shoulder pain”.

They did mention the films of Chang Cheh and had an appearance from one of the Five Venoms. It was very manly and the role of women was almost non-existent in his films which was quite different from Cheng Pei-pei’s work.

Cynthia Rothrock was a welcome addition to the film and I have seen both Yes Madam and Royal Warriors on the big screen. I had not heard of the one with the aliens. She and Richard Norton talked about how tough the stunt work in Hong Kong movies was.

Sammo Hung being hit by a car in Panty Hose Hero gets a mention as does the infamous car stunt with the little girl in Fatal Termination.

The transition into the star-based rather than film based movies with Golden Harvest is covered with the rise of Jackie Chan. No Stephen Chow though which is strange since he is a huge star in Asia (there is a very short clip of Forbidden City Cop.)

The handover in 1997 and the Asian financial crisis of the late 90s is covered and led to a lot of talent going over to Hollywood to find work. What truly brought Kung Fu into the mainstream is Yuen Woo Ping’s work on the Matrix film as he said he had to train the stars to fight for real.

There is a worldwide reach of Kung Fu reflected in countries that had their own martial arts styles releasing movies that had a big impact such as Ong Bak and the Raid.

I had not heard of them, but an Australian production team from Adelaide apparently makes a bunch of martial arts movies on Youtube. I thought Dick Dale would have screened their work?

The final movie covered is the Kung Fu movie shot in Uganda that they hope will inspire people who grew up in the same circumstances to make their own movies.

While it covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time, I thought the documentary was very informative and I found out stuff I did not even know after more than 20 years of watching Hong Kong cinema. Well worth a watch when it comes out near you.

Q&A panel

L-R: Paul Anthony Nelson from Plato’s Cave on RRR FM, Serge Ou, Veronica Fury, Chris Bamford, Ross Boyask

As much as I can remember from the Q&A:

Q – on the cultural influence on Kung Fu

A (Serge Ou) It was originally meant to be just on the influence of Kung Fu in the west but they decided to go further into it. They also explored the link between Kung Fu and hip hop/breakdancing.

Chris Bamford: The film was plotted on 250 post it notes with over 5000 edits in the finished movie.

Q: How much fun was it to edit.

A: It was a dream project to work on. There was over 900 hours spent in the edit suite with still enough material to make it a 4 part mini-series dependant on rights clearances.

The director wanted to show the ferocity of the early kung Fu movies and how watching something like the Raid 2 or the Night Comes for Us today feels like it those early films back in the 1970s did.

Both the director and producer used to watch kung Fu movies on TV with their parents. Genre films are a way of exploring the culture.

Ross Boyask said his gateway films were through Revenge of the Ninja, Commando and American Ninja. Sho Kashugi, Jackie Chan then Bruce Lee.

The ninja movies are related to Electric Boogaloo as the ninja craze is explored in that documentary.

Audience questions

Q: Who didn’t you get?

A: They wanted to go in the side window, not the front door. Did not want the obvious choices for interviews or people who have been heard from before. There were 52 interviewees in the film.


Q to Ross: How would you go about making Kung Fu movies in Australia?

A: Just do it. Watch lots of movies and appreciate the differences. Most actors have some sort of martial arts training these days at least for fitness.

Q: Have you seen Once Upon a Time in Hollywood yet and what did you think about the treatment of Bruce Lee in it?

A: We have not. We hoped to honour Bruce’s legacy with the documentary.

Q: The person hates documentaries but liked this one. “Docutainment”

A: Thanks!

Q: Will Veronica make a movie?

A: The next project Veronica Fury will be working on will be “Cat Fight” about women fighting in films.

Q: How did you find out about all the cultural influences in the genre?

A: Serge was well versed in the world of kung fu movies. The stories may be simple but they have a universal message that carries across cultures.


Kung Fu crew Kung Fu demonstration Kung Fu demonstration Kung Fu demonstration Kung Fu demonstration Kung Fu demonstration  
Kung Fu demonstration

Strong roles for women in Hong Kong movies

Chung Bik-ha as Blackie in The Blade who doesn’t take any shit from nobody, even the bullies who cut the sole of her foot.

Brigitte Lin as Lien Ni-Chang and it goes without saying when she becomes the White Witch she is unmatched.

Michelle Yeoh as Sister Ko in Butterfly and Sword.

Maggie Cheung as Qiao Li in Comrades, Almost a Love Story in one of my top 10 favourite Hong Kong movies.

Maggie Cheung as Lingyu Ruan in Centre Stage.

Joey Wong as the ghost in a Chinese Ghost Story.

Karen Mok as Bak Jing-jing and Athena Chu as Zixia in A Chinese Odyssey Part 1 – Pandora’s Box, I like the scene where they keep setting Stephen Chow’s crotch on fire.

Xu Jiao as Dicky in CJ7, yes another role where a young girl plays a young boy but she is good at it.

Michelle Yeoh as Yu Shu Lien, Ziyi Zhang as Jen and Cheng Pei-Pei as Jade Fox in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.

Kei Gwong Hung as little Ding Dong (girl playing a boy again), Kara Hui Ying-Hung as Rainbow Sword in Demon of the Lute.

Bingbing Li as Shangguan Jing’er in Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame.

Brigitte Lin playing twins in Dragon Chronicles: Maidens of Heavenly Mountain.

Cheng Pei-pei as Chin-erh in Dragon Swamp.

Brigitte Lin as Mo-Yan and Maggie Cheung as Jade King in Dragon Inn.

Joyce Godenzi as the Cambodian guerrilla leader in Eastern Condors especially the vicious stabbing she gives to one of the baddies during the ammo cache fight scene.

Brigitte Lin as Master Asia Invincible in East is Red. She even manages to overshadow the ninja submarine in this movie and also has a bald albino ninja wearing a nappy who has carrier pigeons in his mouth.

Pop duo Twins playing the Chopstick Sisters in the movie Fantasia. You would think it would just be stupid but it is quite fun.

Zhou Xun as Ling Yanqiu and Gwei Lun-mei as Zhang Xiao Wen in Flying Swords of Dragon Gate. I liked the bandit leader more than the main hero, they wore like Ancient Chinese punks.

Josephine Siao as Miu Chui-fa in Fong Sai Yuk. “It’s shit to be chased by the dogs!” is still my favourite line from this movie.

Carina Lau as Kar ling in Forbidden City Cop, the best on-screen wife for Stephen Chow in any of his movies.

Karen Mok as Sister Turkey in God of Cookery, her character manages to bring humour and pathos to the role and she has a big heart.

Anita Mui as Wonder Woman, Maggie Cheung as Thief-Catcher Chat, Michelle Yeoh as Invisble Girl. The top of the heap for good roles for women in Hong Kong movies. There has been no better trio.

Anita Yuen as Wing in He’s a Woman, She’s a Man. A sex-change comedy but it is very sweet and honest.

Maggie Cheung as Mrs Chan in In the Mood for Love do I really need to say why?

Lily Ho as Ainu has delicious revenge against brothel madame Lady Chu played by Betty Pei Ti in the movie Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan, I have not seen a more satisfying revenge movie in a long time.

Sandra Ng as Sophie Yam the triad boss’ wife in her “hungry tigress” stage and the line “My baby has no anus” not even the most weird thing in Jiang hu: The Triad Zone which also includes Anthony Wong as a life sized household god statue.

Shu Qi as Bai Gu Jing with a dirty face in Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons. Yes, I know Stephen Chow told her to “not look so pretty” in the role, but I like her roles more where she does not get naked. I did an entire page of her making funny faces http://hkmovies.timchuma.com/jttwctd_funnyface.htm

Anita Mui as Madam Sung in Justice, My Foot! where she plays the wife of Stephen Chow’s character. She has to rescue him at one point.

I love Ai Kago and Shum Ying in Kung Fu Chefs so much even though the movie is a bit bleh, she kicks arse! She reminds me of a friend who is a professional dancer and is tiny.

“Women are cunning!” is one of the main things to take away from Kung Fu Cult Master, Sharla Cheung as Chao Min, Gigi Lai as Chow Chi-yu and Chingmy Yau as Tsu Chu all do well.

Yuen Qui as the Landlady in Kung Fu Hustle steals the show, my favourite scene is when she non-verbally threatens the gang boss in the back of his car.

Yuen Qui somehow ended up in Kung Fu Mahjong by Wong Jing after the success of Kung Fu Hustle, pretty much playing the same role but in the modern day.

Hui Ying-hung as Mei-ling in the movie the Lady is the Boss takes over a kung fu school and introduces “gay dancing” and fights baddies while riding a BMX “I like it!”.

Maggie Cheung as Maggie Cheung in the movie Irma Vep is great, especially since I can’t tell what parts were made up and which were real. Her reaction when someone asks her if she is a lesbian seems pretty geunine.

Anita Mui as Yuet and Maggie Cheung as Hsien in the movie Moon Warriors that also includes the main character riding a killer whale.

Anita Mui in Yang Luming in Mr Canton and Lady Rose as she is very classy.

Karen Mok does an excellent piss take of Natalie Portman’s character from Leon the Professional in Out of the Dark. The movie is a bit dark for a comedy.

Maggie Cheung being the butt of many jokes in the Police Story movies and also getting injured by explosives in Police Story 2 🙁

Michelle Yeoh jumping a real motorbike onto a real moving train in Police Story 3.

Michelle Yeoh’s performance in general in the movie Project S.

Michelle Yeoh as Michelle in Royal Warriors.

Maggie Cheung as single mum Ellen in the movie Sausalito, yes I used to watch everything that screened at my local Chinatown Cinema.

Chen Jiajia as Kualo in the movie Seven Swords. She’s Kualo! Do I even need to say a reason? If I made a movie it would be her backstory.

Cheng Pei-pei as Miss Yang who ends up being a whipping avenger in the movie the Shadow Whip. I am sure I saw her use someone’s leg to hit himself in one scene using the whip.

Shu Qi as Lyn, Zhao Wei as Sue, Karen Mok as Officer Hung in the film So Close and “almost, but not quite” movie but it is still fun in parts. They only hint at a possible lesbian relationship which is an opportunity wasted.

Terry Lau Wai-Yue as Demon Mom in the movie Super Inframan chowing down on scenery.

Brigitte Lin as Invincible Asia in Swordsman II.

Michelle Yeoh as Inspector Ng and Cynthia Rothrock in Yes Madam. I do not need a reason.

Sylvia Chang as Superintendent Nancy Ho in Aces Go Places.

Kara Hui as Dai-Nan in My Young Auntie who seems to hate fun.

Anita Mui as Fleur in Rouge, this movie was very sad.

MIFF 2014 – Mr Vampire (1985)

Director: Ricky Lau
Starring: Lam Ching-ying, Ricky Hui, Chin Siu-ho, Moon Lee


Pure cinematic comfort food that I must have already seen dozens of times on SBS TV in Australia when it was thrashed to death in the 90s. I am not sure if I have ever seen it on the big screen.

Yes, it is all about Lam Ching-ying’s eyebrows, or eyebrow in this case. I even bought some fake eyebrows to stick on and watch the screening, only to find they did not include any sticky stuff and were actually sideburns. Next time I will just draw them on.

Lam Ching-ying as Master Gau was actually younger than most of the cast at the time, but played the elder and this role is his most famous.

The main story concerns a rich businessman asking for his father to be reburied, but when they open the coffin they find the corpse has not decomposed after 20 years and there is a lot of trouble after this. The vampires in this movie are not wimpy sparkly ones, they may only be able to hop but they are like the Terminator as nothing seems to stop them except for extreme force.

The supporting cast are nothing to be sneezed at with Ricky Hui as Man Choi and one of the legendary Hui brothers comedy group. I like him even more when he turns into a vampire as he is a very goofy vampire.

The fight scenes are really great in this especially the final scenes where everything is destroyed and they have to start hitting the lead vampire with giant poles. I liked the fight scene in the prison where they are locked in the yard after the local police chief tells his subordinates not to open the door under any circumstances.

This film was included in the Hong Kong horror program at the festival I saw it at along with Close Encounters of the Spooky Kind and Rigor Mortis, but I could not get to see everything.

MIFF 2014 – Irma Vep (1996)

Director: Olivier Assayas
Starring: Maggie Cheung, Jean-Pierre Léaud, Nathalie Richard, Nathalie Boutefeu, Antoine Basler

Maggie Cheung stars as herself in this odd duck of a movie about a remake of a silent film that is falling apart even before she arrives with a neurotic director René Vidal (Jean-Pierre Léaud), the crew abandoning the main star as they are so keen to leave the set and the costumer Zoe (Nathalie Richard) who has a crush on her.

This film seems like a mockumentary even before they were popular as it is hard to work out which scenes are real and which are part of the movie. The fake interview that Maggie Cheung has during the film seems to be her telling her real thoughts about the directors and films mentioned.

My favourite part is at the party where the host is talking to Maggie in broken English and asks her if she likes girls. From her reaction it looks like they really asked her and she didn’t know it was going to be used, or Maggie Cheung is an even better actor than I have realized.

The whole film is more of a character study and a statement on how the film industry in France was operating at the time. The director in the film has had past success, but seems to be floundering and they have to bring in a replacement. The journalist in the interview scene is very down on traditional French cinema and praises the action genre.

Maggie Cheung really did not know French when she first came to work on this movie and ended up marrying Olivier Assayas after the movie. The number one reason to watch this film is if you are a Maggie Cheung completist and want to see her walking around in a latex cat suit. Any reason to watch Maggie Cheung is good enough for me and the clips shown from Heroic Trio in the movie are most welcome.

MIFF 2014 – The Imp (1981)

Director: Dennis Yu
Starring: Charlie Chin Chiang Lin, Kent Cheng Jak Si, Dorothy Yu Yee Ha, Yueh Hua, Chan Shen, Hui Bing Sam, Jim Sam Sing Tak, Wong Ching, Wong Chung, Fung King Man


Keung (Charlie Chin Chiang Lin) is having a run of bad luck and can’t seem to keep a job to support his pregnant wife. The people around him even seem to suffer as one job interview he attends his cancelled due to a killing spree by a former employee just before he arrives. He would have a lot of trouble applying for 40 jobs per month under these circumstances.

By chance or some evil plans he ends up applying for a job at a yet to be completed shopping mall and office complex (the chandelier reminded me of the one from Police Story) with a gang of other guards including Old Uncle Han (Chang Shen) and the ever enjoyable Fatty (Kent Cheng).

He starts to see weird things, but the other guards tell them to ignore them, that is until one of the guards ends up dying under mysterious circumstances and they have to seek the help of a Geomancer (Elliot Ngok) who tells him he was born under a bad sign and the evil spirit is trying to be reincarnated as his wife’s baby. Will they succeed in stopping it or not?

This screened as part of the “Haunted Midnight” program at MIFF and is different to other horror films from around the era as the focus was not on blood and gore as with western slasher movies, but in setting the scene and the belief in the spiritual practices in every day life that are something people really live with.

While the techniques used are very simple, with just red and green lights and dry ice they can create a spooky atmosphere. They do combine to create something unique and show that you don’t even need to show what is killing people for it to be spooky. At one point a character gets suffocated by a newspaper (probably the part with Andrew Bolt’s column) and they don’t actually say what kills some of the people.

My favourite character in the movie is Fatty (Kent Cheng) especially his two-part red t-shirt with while letters “Am I a girl?”, “No! I am a man!”) that he wears with red short-shorts with white piping.

While there are other Hong Kong horror movies I would recommend before this one, it is still worth your time if you have seen a lot of other ones before.

MIFF 2014 – Rouge (1987)

Director: Stanley Kwan
Starring: Anita Mui, Leslie Cheung, Alex Man, Emily Chu

Getting the obvious out of the way, the Anita Mui and Leslie Cheung both died in 2003 and it was especially sad about Leslie. It is still possible to enjoy their legacy, but some of the subject matter in this movie makes it difficult.

The main story is the classic star-crossed lovers story with Fleur (Anita Mui) and Chan Chen-Pang (Leslie Cheung) as courtesan and rich businessman respectively who could not be together in this life and so decide to be together in the afterlife.

Cut to 53 years later and Fleur turns up at the newspaper to place a missing persons report to Yuen (Alex Man) and then follows him home as she wants to go back to her old neighbourhood. His girlfriend Ah Chor (Emily Chu) is not too pleased at first, but when she discovers Fleur is a ghost she agrees to help out and they start looking for her old lover, believing him still to be alive.

This film was screening as part of a Perfect Midnight – Haunted Hong Kong program at the Melbourne International Film Festival and is a different style of ghost story. The cast even visits the set of a film during a movie complete with a “flying” ghost.

It is more of a realistic ghost story as while Fleur can disappear and move about at will, there are no flying scenes and she calls the sun “big macho” that causes her to look less pretty. Also she can smell things but not eat them.

If you are a fan of the two leads I would recommend this movie and even if you do not usually watch romantic movies this is still on the list as it is an important film to watch in terms of Hong Kong film history.

Hong Kong has changed even more since this film was made so the themes of change and being able to move on, but remember what is important to you are even more pressing.

MIFF 2014 – Sessions purchased

The only one I missed out on was Advanced Style as all three sessions were on standby tickets already.

Why Don’t You Play in Hell?
Electric Boogaloo: The Wild, Untold Story of Canon Films
The Known Unknown: The Life and Times of Donald Rumsfeld
The Tale of Princess Kaguya
The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness
Don’t Throw Stones
The Imp
Irma Vep
Mr Vampire
The Search for Weng Weng
The Gold Spinners

MIFF 2014 – A Perfect Midnight: Haunted Hong Kong

A Perfect Midnight: Haunted Hong Kong

A program of Hong Kong horror movies from the 1980s. I will probably go to see one or two of these, they were played quite a bit on SBS back in the day but it is always good to see them on the big screen. Irma Vep is also screening at the festival.

Encounters of the Spooky Kind


The Imp


Mr Vampire

Rigor Mortis




I have seen Mr Vampire and Encounters of the Spooky Kind dozens of times, probably don’t need to watch them again. I would like to see Rouge and Rigor Mortis though.

A Century of Chinese Cinema – Swordsmen, Gangsters and Ghosts – Trailers

Swordsmen, Gangsters and Ghosts

A Chinese Odyssey (Part I: Pandora’s Box)

A Chinese Odyssey (Part II: Cinderella)

A Touch of Zen

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

Drunken Master

Drunken Master 2


Election 2

Fist of Fury


Infernal Affairs

Long Arm of the Law

Once Upon a Time in China

Once Upon a Time in China II

One-Armed Swordsman

Police Story

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

The Banquet

The Story of a Discharged Prisoner – can’t find it, this’ll do

Anyone know Italian?

Wong Fei-hung: The Whip That Smacks the Candle