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Archive for July 25th, 2013

by Jaime Grijalba.

Du zhan (2012, Johnnie To)

Remember the badass 90’s Hong Kong action films that everyone loved and seemed to enjoy so much? Well, they didn’t stop in the 90’s, people loved it not only overseas but inside of Hong Kong as well, the police-mob dramas with a lot of gunplay and action are among the top earners any year in the island, as well as being among the most exportable films that come out from there, sometimes bringing them over on direct-to-video releases and in smaller doses, theatrical releases. Of course the genre took a huge blow in the early 2000’s when a little movie called ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ (2000) came out to everyone’s disbelief and practically put the kung fu and the wuxia back in scene, this time more based in Mainland China than in Hong Kong, but with products that came from both sides of the sea, giving old stars as well as newcomers the chance to entertain the people, again with the same results, some small theatrical releases while most of the rest came out on DVD or never saw the light of day in this side of the world. Just as much as the crime films of the 90’s have continued to this day, the wuxia movies have been for a while since the late 60’s with varying degrees of popularity and critical approach, while most of them being catalogued as part of the cult or bizarre world, others were elegant supporters of the beauty of the genre and the martial arts, competing even to what was wrongly called the first ‘elegant’ wuxia, the oscarized 2000 movie directed by Ang Lee. But let’s get back to the crime films, while there was an auteur in those starting years that finally made the jump and started doing crappy action films in the United States, John Woo, there was another great amount of Hong Kong filmmakers that wanted to imprint a personal style to the films they made, some of them made the jump from the crime to the wuxia when they saw the opportunity (Wai-keung Lau, Alan Mak and Felix Chong come to mind at first), while others have maintained some kind of loyalty to the crime and the mob that gave them their initial fame (although with some reservations and wild cards here and there), and here I’m talking about the much talked-about Hong Kong director Johnnie To, who has directed 53 movies since 1980 and has no sign of stopping. (more…)

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