More than 20 years after the handover, Hong Kong is still working out its identity issues. Or so one concludes from its movie industry, which has one eye on the enormous Chinese market and the other on tried-and-true Hollywood storytelling. The result, more often than not, is a well-made piece of escapist entertainment that, if you peer beneath the veneer, has a sharp political point.
Take Distinction (showing 4pm on Sept. 29 at the Vogue), one of seven new and recent titles that comprise the eighth edition of SFFILM’s annual Hong Kong Cinema series. Up-and-coming director Jevons Au (who will be in the house) turns our hearts to putty with his story of a special needs school staging a musical while simultaneously critiquing the higher-ups’ ghettoization and marginalization of differently abled youngsters.
Stick around for the boy-band saga House of the Rising Sons (Sept. 29 at 6:30pm), which tracks the formative years of The Wynners. Set in the early 1970s, and directed by its drummer-turned-actor and director Anthony Chan, the movie conjures the intoxicating brew of youthful ambition, idealism, friendship and freedom. Ah, those innocent days of pre-internet celebrity and fame.
The Brink (Sept. 30 at 7pm) caps the weekend with an incendiary dose of what made Hong Kong films popular ‘round the world back in the ’80s: state of the art suspense and killer action sequences. Jonathan Li’s directorial debut follows a detective in the great tradition of loose cannons on the trail of a gang of gold smugglers. The waterlogged fight scenes set a new standard (and demand to be seen on the big screen), but Li’s main concern is blasting the failed promise of capitalism and the corruption that undergirds contemporary Hong Kong. You’re not buying that, are you? The Brink is primal, adrenalized moviemaking. Movies are fun, too, you know.