At Full Speed: Hong Kong Cinema in a Borderless World

At Full Speed: Hong Kong Cinema in a Borderless World

At Full Speed: Hong Kong Cinema in a Borderless World

At Full Speed: Hong Kong Cinema in a Borderless World

Synopsis

Breathtaking swordplay and nostalgic love, Peking opera and Chow Yun-fat's cult followers -- these are some of the elements of the vivid and diverse urban imagination that find form and expression in the thriving Hong Kong cinema. All receive their due in At Full Speed, a volume that captures the remarkable range and energy of a cinema that borrows, invents, and reinvents across the boundaries of time, culture, and conventions.

At Full Speed gathers film scholars and critics from around the globe to convey the transnational, multilayered character that Hong Kong films acquire and impart as they circulate worldwide. These writers scrutinize the films they find captivating: from the lesser known works of Law Man and Yuen Woo Ping to such film festival notables as Stanley Kwan and Wong Kar-wai, and from the commercial action, romance, and comedy genres of Jackie Chan, Peter Chan, Steven Chiau, Tsui Hark, John Woo, and Derek Yee to the attempted departures of Evans Chan, Ann Hui, and Clara Law.

In this cinema the contributors identify an aesthetics of action, gender-flexible melodramatic excesses, objects of nostalgia, and globally projected local history and identities, as well as an active critical film community. Their work, the most incisive account ever given of one of the world's largest film industries, brings the pleasures and idiosyncrasies of Hong Kong cinema into clear close-up focus even as it enlarges on the relationships between art and the market, cultural theory and the movies.

Excerpt

Esther C. M. Yau

Globalization and Hong Kong Movies

Transactions across the terrain of a borderless world have become an economic prerogative in the new millennium. Increasingly, they shape the making of world styles in metropolitan centers. Along with migrant communities, media images, and imported music and arts, Hong Kong movies have become a highly visible component of changing world styles. the products of a world city and a colony lately transformed into China's Special Administrative Region, many Hong Kong movies circulate widely throughout the global cultural marketplace. Through video outlets, cable television, and digital networks, along with theatrical distribution and select festivals, these films have reached locations as distant and disparate as Calcutta, Boston, Berlin, London, New York, and Seoul. Their choreographed action scenes, melodramatic sentiments, poeticized violence, grotesque comic moments, and depressing yet erotic urban imagery furnish a unique cinematic experience for the audiences in these cities. in the cultural spaces already densely occupied by corporate advertising, television imagery, and American(ized) icons, Hong Kong movies and their stars have left some unusual imprints.

In the crossover decades of the twentieth century, exoticism and primitive passions, packaged by tourist images, nature shows, art films, and ethnic goods, have become commonplace or even old-fashioned antidotes for both the tensions and the blandness of modern everyday life. Increasingly, dangerous movements across space, transgressions of norms and good taste, and tweaked, nihilistic visions of the past and the present have become regular screen features to induce odd and new sensations in a young generation of image users. As a leader in this trend, Hong Kong movies deliver a wide range of sensations and an escapism that both stimulate and saturate the imagination by blasting apart a banal contemporary world with unruly talk, fast-paced images of danger, hysterical behavior, and excessive sentiments.

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