Hong Kong Neon 2001

October 3, 2001 • Events, Film

UCLA Film and Television Archive and the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, San Francisco present

Hong Kong Neon

logo_hketo_168Filmmakers such as Lawrence Ah Mon and Stanley Kwan who remained in Hong Kong during this period have continued to stretch and produce brilliantly personal work. In the depth of the pre-millennial doldrums, producer-director Johnnie To and his Milkyway collaborators, including Patrick Yau, forged the kind of fabulously propulsive, emotionally crackling actioners that Hong Kong popular cinema is justifiably known for. (The Archive will mount a series on To’s directorial work this November.)

At the same time, a generational shift has taken place. Younger directors like Benny Chan, Aubrey Lam and Wilson Yip have come to prominence in recent years. And a distinctly indie cinema, initiated by mavericks like Fruit Chan (whose work was recently shown at the Archive) and expanded upon by emerging filmmakers like Yan Yan-Mak, has added yet another facet to Hong Kong’s newly revitalized film scene.

Unless otherwise noted, all films are in Cantonese with English subtitles.

event_neon_genxWednesday, October 3, 7:30 p.m.
Los Angeles Premiere
(Dak Ging San Yan Lui)
(1999) Directed by Benny Chan

A box-office smash in Hong Kong, this movie about the crime-fighting high jinks of a group of police-cadet rebels heralded its film industry’s current resurgence. Pop heartthrob Nicholas Tse (TIME AND TIDE) leads the mod squad of rookies charged with infiltrating a sinister arms-smuggling operation. Hip and multilingual, these Gen-Xers represent an irreverent new breed of Hong Kong action star. Director Benny Chan keeps his charismatic young performers on the run, orchestrating a dazzling array of fights, stunts and special-effects setpieces, liberally punctuated with doses of brazen humor. Fetching American transplant Daniel Wu (BISHONEN) and tough guy-goofball Francis Ng (THE MISSION) add supporting cast sparks, while producer Jackie Chan drops in for a breezy cameo.

Producers: John Chong Ching, Solon So Chi-Hung, B. Chan. Screenplay: B. Chan, Chit Ka-Kei, Koan Hui, Lee Yee-Wa. Cinematography: Arthur Wong. Action Director: Nicky Li. Editor: Cheung Ka-Fai. With: Nicholas Tse, Sam Lee, Stephen Fung, Daniel Wu, Grace Yip, Eric Tsang. 35mm, 113 min.

Reception following the screening of GEN-X COPS

Thursday, October 4, 7:30 p.m.

Best-known for his ravishing femme elegies of Chinas past Anita Mui as a ’30s Hong Kong concubine in ROUGE (1987), and Maggie Cheung as the tragic silent screen star Ruan Lingyu in CENTER STAGE (1991) acclaimed Hong Kong director Stanley Kwan will present a sneak preview of his latest film. There will be a discussion with Mr. Kwan and his producer Zhang Yongning after the screening.

Pre-screening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.

In person: Stanley Kwan, Zhang Yongning

event_neon_soFriday, October 5, 7:30 p.m.
US Premiere
(Miu Yan Ga Sai)
(2000) Directed by Lawrence Ah Mon

A pointed inversion of his own male-centered lost-youth film GANGS (1988), Lawrence Ah Mon’s SPACKED OUT charts the delinquent pasttimes of four adolescent girls from the housing-project fringes of Hong Kong. Bingeing through a landscape of broken homes, garish malls and karaoke joints, the girls—two queer, two straight—grapple with friendship, sex, drugs and abortion. The USC-educated Ah Mon (a.k.a. Lawrence Lau) coaxes startlingly nuanced performances from his quartet of newcomers, and depicts their marginal milieu with raw subjectivity. SPACKED OUT is an indelible portrait of girls coming of age in a perilously adult world.

Producer: Johnnie To. Screenplay: Yeung Sin-Ling, Au Shui-Lin, Rat. Cinematography: Lai Yiu-Fai. Editor: Chan Chi-Wai. With: Debbie Tam, Christy Cheung, Angela Au, Maggie Poon. 35mm, 91 min.

event_neon_12niteWest Coast Premiere
(Sap Yee Yau)
(2000) Directed by Aubrey Lam

Borrowing its narrative conceit from Bergman’s SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE, TWELVE NIGHTS traces the contours of a relationship in 12 episodes over the course of a year. Cecilia Cheung, Hong Kong’s “It-Girl” du jour, and Eason Chan play the young couple whose tumultuous love life the film depicts with wry humor and compassion. By increments, director Aubrey Lam fashions the portrait of a woman groping towards maturity. With lustrous visuals and insightful dialogue, the film is a smart, bittersweet chronicle of the vicissitudes of modern romance. Director Peter Chan, for whom Lam penned such films as WHO’S THE WOMAN, WHO’S THE MAN, produced her directorial debut.

Producer: Peter Chan. Screenplay: A. Lam. Cinematography: Cheng Siu-Keung. Editor: Kwong Chi-Leung. With: Cecilia Cheung, Eason Chan, Ronald Cheng, Candy Lo. 35mm, 91 min.

event_neon_tvhangSaturday, October 6, 7:30 p.m.
US Premiere
(Muk Lau Hung Gwong)
(1999) Directed by Ringo Lam

Action maestro Ringo Lam infuses the crime thriller with the atmospherics of supernatural horror. Lau Ching-Wan—often dubbed Hong Kong’s “everyman” actor is the nominal victim, a computer engineer who mysteriously disappears after losing his nest egg in the Asian financial crisis. Tony Leung Ka-Fai plays the cop who tracks him down to an old haunted hotel. A suspenseful cat-and-mouse tussle between Lau and Leung ensues, its escalating skirmishes eventually exposing the terrifying vulnerability of traditional masculinity to borderless capital. CITY ON FIRE meets THE SHINING in this tense mood piece that blends genres as cannily as it delivers offhand social commentary.

Producers: R. Lam, Joe Ma. Screenplay: J. Ma, R. Lam, Ho Man-Lung. Cinematography: Ross Clarkson. Editor: Chan Chi-Wai. With: Lau Ching-Wan, Amy Kwok, Tony Leung Ka-Fai, Hui Siu-Hung. 35mm, 104 min.

event_neon_jilWest Coast Premiere
(Jue Lai Yip Yue Leung Sann Ang)
(2000) Directed by Wilson Yip

Director Wilson Yip earned notice as an action stylist with his pyrotechnic balletics in BULLETS OVER SUMMER (1999). Here his exuberant camera energizes a genre-bending tale of mismatched lonely hearts. Comedienne Sandra Ng sheds her comic chops as a world-weary survivor of mastectomy and divorce whose second chance comes in the unlikely figure of Francis Ng’s street hoodlum. Simon Yam becomes their unwitting matchmaker as a triad boss desperately in need of a nanny for his illegitimate baby. Melding the gangster film and melodrama, JULIET IN LOVE adroitly transforms one’s cliché into the other’s prospect, turning a story about two working-class losers into an engagingly offbeat look at life’s unexpected twists.

Producer: Joe Ma. Screenplay: Matt Chow. Cinematography: Lam Wah-Chuen. Editor: Cheung Ka-Fai. Action Director: Adam Chan. With: Sandra Ng, Francis Ng, Simon Yam, Eric Kot. 35mm, 89 min.

event_neon_eteSunday, October 7, 2:00 p.m.
Los Angeles Premiere
(Fei Sheung Tak Yin)
(1998) Directed by Patrick Yau

Shot through with post-reunification anxiety and the characteristic kinetic flair of a Milkyway production, EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED is a high-concept policier with a decidedly fatalistic bent. Lau Ching-Wan and Simon Yam play the cops, a couple of cool pros taking on a band of jewel thieves while competing for the affections of restaurateur YoYo Mung. Patrick Yau directs the action with bravura verve and injects the love triangle as a refreshing comic digression. One of the standouts of recent Hong Kong cinema, EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED helped shake the territory’s film industry out of its mid-’90s slump.

Producers: Johnnie To, Wai Ka-Fai. Screenplay: Szeto Kam-Yuen, Yau Nai-Hoi, Taurus Chow. Cinematography: Ko Chiu-Lam. Editor: Chan Chi-Wai. With: Lau Ching-Wan, Simon Yam, Ruby Wong, Yoyo Mung. 35mm, in Cantonese and Mandarin with English subtitles, 90 min.

event_neon_so2SPACKED OUT
Repeat screening; see film notes for Friday, October 5.

Sunday, October 7, 7:00 p.m.
North American Premiere
(2001) Directed by Yan Yan-Mak

Yan Yan-Mak journeyed to the remote Mainland province of Qinghai to shoot her low-budget first feature. The minimalist plot concerns a Hong Kong man on a quest in northern China to find his missing older brother. Guided only by a postcard, he navigates warily through the unfamiliar rural terrain. His inconclusive interactions with the locals gently reveal the unresolved gulf between city and country, Hong Kong and the Mainland. An assured debut that has already racked up critics’ awards and a Venice Film Festival berth, GEGE is a Hong Konger’s self-reflexive inquiry into China’s vast heartland.

Producer/Screenplay: Yan Y.M. Cinematography: Siuki Yip, Eric Lau. Editor: Tam K.M. With: Tam K.M., Jin Cai-Hsia, Cai Tao. 35mm, in Mandarin with English subtitles, 90 min.

Repeat screening; see film notes for Saturday, October 6.

All films and events are at the James Bridges Theater in Melnitz Hall, located on the northeast corner of the UCLA Westwood campus, near the intersection of Sunset Boulevard and Hilgard Avenue.

Tickets are available at the theater one hour before showtime. Admission is $7 general, $5 students, seniors and UCLA Alumni Association members with ID.

Parking is available adjacent to the theater in Lot 3 for $6. For further information, please call (310) 206-FILM or (310) 206-8013, or visit

*Images are the copyright property of the respective film production companies.

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