The San Francisco Film Society has announced its lineup of films for its third annual festival of recent works from one of the world’s most exciting filmmaking hubs, Hong Kong, offering a wild mix of genres, retrospective classics and feature performances from the region’s biggest stars.
First, a special opening night celebration of the third Hong Kong Cinema festival! Prior to the screening of Bends, a limited number of tickets are available for a fabulous party complete with delicious hors d’oeuvres and sponsored wine at Paul Mahder Gallery, located up the street from the Vogue Theatre.
Flora Lau (Hong Kong 2013)
Featured in Cannes’ Un Certain Regard, Flora Lau’s debut feature tells the dual story of a chauffeur trying to find a way for his wife on the mainland to give birth in Hong Kong and the wealthy woman he works for who is hiding the disappearance of her husband (and her money) from family and friends. With two terrific lead performances and spectacular cinematography by Christopher Doyle, Bends depicts the desperation hidden underneath the glittering surfaces of modern Hong Kong.
Johnnie To (Man tam, Hong Kong 2013)
A delirious mix of comedy, mystery and romance, Johnnie To’s brand-new film offers superstar Andy Lau as the titular protagonist, a rather hapless investigator with a singular skill—his handicap allows him to “visualize” the very particular details of a crime scene. When he teams up with an admiring and athletically adept female police inspector named Ho, they find that their respective skills complement one another perfectly. As they search for Ho’s childhood friend Minnie who disappeared 20 years prior and other cases crop up in the process, an increasingly romantic attraction grows between the two detectives.
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin
Liu Chia-liang (Shao Lin san shi liu fang, Hong Kong 1977)
The recent death of martial arts legend Lau Kar-leung (aka Liu Chia-liang) warrants a tribute screening of this essential kung-fu film directed by Liu himself. Starring the filmmaker’s frequent collaborator (and pupil) Lau Chia-hui (aka Gordon Liu), the story involves a student at the Shaolin monastery who undertakes grueling martial arts training in order to wreak vengeance on the marauders who occupied his village. With astonishing fight choreography by director Lau, the film has influenced legions of artists including the Wu-Tang Clan and Quentin Tarantino and was selected by Black Belt magazine as the third-best martial arts film of all time.
The Last Tycoon|
Wong Jing (Da Shanghai, Hong Kong 2012)
|Grand passions meet turbulent times in this sumptuous historical epic set predominantly in 1930s Shanghai. The film traces the rise of a rural-born fruit seller named Cheng Daqi (Chow Yun-fat in the later scenes) who becomes a powerful crime lord with constantly shifting allegiances. While Daqi’s story and his love for two different women is the main focus, The Last Tycoon also details the fraught relationship between China and Japan during this period, climaxing with the devastating Battle of Songhu. The film also features HK icon Sammo Hung in a memorable supporting role as a corrupt cop.
The Great War: Director's Cut
Yan Yan Mak (Hong Kong 2013)|
If you missed the October 2012 showdown between Hong Kong superstar pop groups Grasshopper and Softhard, this entertaining documentary captures each members’ thoughts and feelings about the event, explores attendees’ obsessions and presents vivid onstage moments from the show. While Grasshopper is a fairly typical Cantopop group—led by the perfectionist Remus Choy—Softhard displays more of a hip-hop edge, incorporating political satire and ribald humor into their act. Featuring lengthy interviews with the five main band members interspersed with terrific live footage, it’s an entertaining look at the international phenomenon of the Hong Kong pop scene.
The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter
Liu Chia-liang (Wu Lang ba gua gun, Hong Kong 1984)
Gordon Liu stars in this kung-fu classic as a man seeking to avenge the death of his family, who were slaughtered at the hands of marauding Tartars. Having escaped the attack, he retreats to a monastery where he must convince the abbot he is worthy of receiving training in special pole-fighting techniques. When the same group of Tartars kidnaps his sister, he puts his training to use.
A Complicated Story
Kiwi Chow (Hong Kong 2013)
Yazi Liu is a young woman from mainland China studying in Hong Kong who takes a lucrative gig as a surrogate mother. She is kept in a private apartment with a personal assistant, and the identities of the parents are kept from her. But when her contract is abruptly terminated and identities are revealed on both sides, Liu is forced to make a series of life-altering decisions. Made by a crew comprised predominantly of students from the School of Film & Television and executive produced by Johnnie To and Bill Kong, A Complicated Story portrays issues of class and sexuality with texture and style.
Oxide Pang (Tóngmóu, Hong Kong/China 2013)
In this action-packed mystery/thriller, Malaysian-born Chan Tam (Aaron Kwok) returns to his native soil to track down the men who murdered his parents 30 years earlier and enlists the help of local PI Zheng (Nick Cheung). As they uncover a dense web of nefarious behavior, both men’s familial histories come into play. The film’s several tense action sequences are bolstered by Kwok and Cheung’s humorous rapport and the nifty international locales
For film descriptions, schedule and tickets, click.