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Hong Kong Film

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In the 1990s, Hollywood saw an inflow of Hong Kong film stars such as Jackie Chan, Chow Yun-Fat, and Michelle Yeoh; filmmakers including John Woo, Tsui Hark, Stanley Tong, Ronnie Yu, and Kirk Wong; and martial arts choreographers including Yeun Woo-Ping and Corey Yeun. In the international art-house film scene, the reputation of Hong Kong filmmakers makes viewers familiar with names like Wong Kar-Wai, Stanley Kwan, Ann Hui and Fruit Chan. At the same time Hong Kong itself is undergoing an unprecedented process of decolonization and forming a perhaps more unified national identity. However, the very term "national identity" is contested since Hong Kong is being legally and culturally absorbed into the PRC while many of its people have strong lingering feelings that Hong Kong is and should continue to be a very separate society, distinct linguistically, culturally and--for many--politically from the mainland.

Thus Hong Kong cinema becomes an interesting way to examine the disjunctures that Hong Kong represents culturally and politically, especially in light of the end of British colonial rule. Film in general is a crucial industry for revealing the mechanisms of contemporary transnational production and global circulation of commodities. The transnational film industry offers a speculative ground for global capital investment, and it reveals patterns of international commodification, including international capital's various contending factors or levels of functioning within national and local communities. In this light, film scholars ask these kinds of questions: Is Hong Kong cinema becoming more national or transnational? How do the film talents in this industry and the works that derive from it react to challenges of (post) colonialism and nationalism? In very diverse ways and to differing degrees, political concerns underpin and inform essays in At Full Speed: Hong Kong Cinema in a Borderless World.

The cover image of this anthology "Asia the Invincible" comes from Tsui Hark and Ching Siu-Tung's Swordsman III--the East is Red; together with the volume's title, the image suggests an analogous embodiment of Hong Kong cinema as the "Hollywood of the East" that "registers the industry's pursuit of the global market, a pursuit that mirrors Hollywood's, whose 'authentic' productions consolidate its screen hegemony"(8). Thus Hong Kong cinema seems to be playing "Hollywood" in the age of global capitalism, only on a smaller scale. "Borderless" in the title represents the authors' attempt to suggest a theoretical paradigm that would eliminate any confining intellectual essentialism. The book's critical goal is to allow a more flexible cultural identity of Hong Kong to be articulated and imagined than could be done using a more traditional "national cinema" approach. Yau proposes a notion of "borderless" to express the flexibility of Hong Kong cinema in this era of global capitalism without imposing a critic's totalizing perspective on the area's diverse and alternative modernities. The book exposes globlism's imposition of power differentials. Complexly the articles suggest both a de-territorialization and a re-territorializing of borders that lie in "the shadow of capital,"[1] of places shaped by specters of nation-states and earlier regional economies.

In thirteen equally fascinating contributions, this volume addresses contemporary issues in Hong Kong cinema. The authors take innovative steps to confront new issues on every front, developing new zones of research and new vocabularies to analyze transnational cultural communication. Offering an historical overview, in Part One, "Hong Kong's New Wave Cinema," Law Kar traces the rise of the Hong Kong New Wave in the late 1970s; this movement includes directors such as Tsui Hark, Ann Hui, Alex Cheung, Peter Yung, Yim Ho, Patrick Tam, Allen Fong. Looking at the movement historically, Law Kar outlines the background of the social activism in the 1960s and the rise of television in the 1970s that laid the ground for the Hong Kong New Wave Cinema.

Describing intellectual history, Hector Rodriguez examines the development of the Hong Kong New Wave as a cultural field, which he sees functioning as an institutional, ethical and aesthetic system during the 1960s and 1970s. He also emphasizes the importance of the film movement itself in that it constituted a community and developed a cosmopolitan outlook among filmmakers and critics that also became an important way for the movement to define itself. Through their historical examination of the rise of the Hong Kong New Wave cinema, both Law Kar and Hector Rodriguez also attempt to rediscover an historical and cultural identity for Hong Kong. The essays reaffirm two mutual concerns: Hong Kong has a local identity that is in transformation and also facilitates a cosmopolitan stance. These concerns pave ways for discussions of the cinema's success as discussed in the following two sections of the anthology. Part One offers a comprehensive historical account of and research on Hong Kong's New Wave as a "golden age." The directors of that movement are united their understanding of film form, their being influenced by world cinema , and their commitment to articulating specific concerns related to Hong Kong's local identity.

Politically, two very different and often contradictory identificatory strategies circulate in Hong Kong, and perhaps also in China itself, to define the uniqueness of Hong Kong's culture and identity. On the one hand, many intellectuals and politicians insist that southern Cantonese Hong Kong has little to do with "official" Mandarin mainland culture because the former colony's local culture cannot be adequately translated. On the other hand, Hong Kong's colonial legacy makes it an "international" city that keeps it culturally distinct from what many consider to be a more provincial mainland society. So ironically Hong Kong is regarded both as too "local" and too "global" to be assimilated into the PRC. For this reason, the study of contemporary Hong Kong cinema has a larger usefulness for scholars. It may contribute to understanding how modernist/cosmopolitan identity discourses, with identity rooted in colonialism, have been and are currently constructed. In particular, scholars studying this group of films and mediamakers must take into consideration of local and transnational political and socio-economic forces operating in Hong Kong. Most of the essays in this volume deal with transnational identity

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