Tag Archives: hong kong

Two-bite movies, Part V: “Love is a Many-Splendored Thing” and “Chungking Express”

Of all the genres I did not expect to “fall in love” with, Hong Kong romance is pretty high upon the list. Yet so far I have watched Days of Being Wild, In the Mood for Love, 2046, and The World of Suzie Wong, and enjoyed all of them. With that said, recently I watched two more, Love is a Many-Splendored Thing and Chungking Express. As romances, both are terrific. But both films (almost) go beyond their genre.

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As is typical of genre romances, the only character with depth is the heroine. In 1955’s Splendored this is Dr. Han Suyin (played by Jennifer Jones), while in 1994’s Express the female lead is simply “Faye” (played by Faye Wong). Both female leads are unsure how to define themselves — Suyin is a mixed-race doctor who wishes to be Chinese, while Faye is a Chinese convenience-store attendant who wants to live in California.

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Far more interesting than the flat characters are the common theme of the coming of the Communist Party. Splendored begins in 1949, and one of the first conversations centers around the fall of Shanghai. Suyin’s desire to help build China and apparent loyalty to the Communists as the only truly Chinese party is tempered by her family’s belief that it will be executed by the Party.

The concern is far more muted in Express, which takes place a few years before the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty. These themes are explored more fully, if still allegorically, in the director’s film (with the same lead actress), 2046.

Both movies are quirky in their own ways. Love is a Many-Splendored Thing is a remarkable film when taken in the context of race relations. Chungking Express has what amounts to an extremely large series of establishing shots, all of which serve to give context for the person and surroundings of the protagonist, who does not even appear into halfway into the film.

Love is a Many-Splendored Thing won three Academy Awards. Chungking Express is one of Time’s 100 best films of all time.

Hong Kong now (almost) open to Chinese investment

You read the headline right.

In an effort to promote economic growth, Beijing has made it hard for Chinese to invest money oversees. (This policy also artificially strengthens the Chinese Yuan against other currencies, but that’s a post for another time.) However, as the urban component of China’s economy grows at about 10% a year, and bubbles pop up everywhere from the Shanghai stock market to the coastal realty market, something had to give.


Open to the world. Soon open to China?

As so often in China, what “gave” were government controls, and a number of stories (by Forbes, The Standard, and Simon World) discuss new rules that will allow Chinese to invest in the Hong Kong stock market. As Hong Kong is a global financial city, this means that Chinese dollars will be more open to investment around the world than ever before. While this is only on a trial basis, it’s enough to help the Hong Kong exchange rise 12.4% It’s also another step to China emerging as a “normal economy” whose currency floats freely.

Review of "Forbidden City Cop"

Forbidden City Cop‘s plot, such as it is, is of the evil Gum Kingdom’s quests to conquer the Chinese Empire. The simpleminded and friendly Emperor is no match for the clever Gum barbarians, and from the offer of a concubine to the capture of a space alien, the Emperor believes & accepts every Gum entreaty. It’s up to doctor who moonlights as an Imperial Bodyguard and inventor, Ling Ling Fat (“008”, Stephen Chow), to save the day.

Chow’s films are a combination of lighthearted physical comedy and commentary on culture. The recent Shaolin Soccer (2001) is a masterful example of this, combining the rise of an improbably sports team (a la The Longest Yard) with a realist examination of contemporary urban China. Forbidden City Cop is an earlier example of the same themes, deftly combining western imports (UFOs, the Academy Awards, spy thrillers) with traditional (ancient heroes, an Empire in distress) and contemporary (kung fu) themes.

The only downside was the subtitles, sometimes hardly readable because of their positioning on the screen. Still, the film was funny and cute, and I recommend it. I rate it 8 / 10.

Rent from Greencine. (Currently out of stock at Amazon.)