The Hong Konger Club holds first mini-film fest
May 12 7:30 p.m. "The Sparring Partner" (2022)
May 13 3:30 p.m. "The Heroic Trio" (1993)
May 13 5:25 p.m. "Far Far Away" (2022)
May 13 7:45 p.m. "Happy Together" (1997)
The Hong Konger Club was formed three years ago to support the Hong Kong diasporic community and to promote Hong Kong culture to Americans.
But forming a club just as the COVID-19 pandemic hit delayed the group's ability to do in-person public events. This Friday will mark their first public film event as they showcase two Golden Age Hong Kong films and two recent releases at the UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas.
I got addicted to Hong Kong cinema in the late 1980s. I think it was "The Incredibly Strange Film Show" or a Landmark Theatres mini festival that tipped me off to the audacious Hong Kong New Wave with filmmakers like John Woo, Tsui Hark, Wong Kar Wai, Jackie Chan, and Ringo Lam. Once I had a taste of these films I was on a mission to find more at conventions (where fan subtitled bootlegs were sometimes the only option) or Asian video stores. I just could not get enough.
So when I discovered The Hong Kongers Club at Pac-Arts Spring Showcase last month I was thrilled to see they were planning to bring Hong Kong movies to the big screen.
The Hong Kongers wants to use films as a means of introducing Hong Kong culture to San Diegans, and no better way to do that than to showcase the height of delirious Hong Kong New Wave insanity with the 1993 film "The Heroic Trio," featuring Michelle Yeoh as part of an all-female superhero team.
The film screened at last year's San Diego Asian Film Festival where audiences thrilled to Yeoh, Maggie Cheung and Anita Mui engaging in some wild shenanigans to defeat an evil villain and save babies. The screening sold out so I know there are more people out there who want to see this film on the big screen.
Yeoh may have just made history by being the first Asian to win a Best Actress Oscar earlier this year for her performance in "Everything Everywhere All At Once," but she has been kicking ass for decades as an action star in Asia. "The Heroic Trio," directed by the brilliant Johnnie To, showcases her high-flying action skills.
A more art house example of late Hong Kong New Wave is Wong Kar-Wai's "Happy Together" (1997) starring Leslie Cheung and Tong Leung as Hong Kongers in Argentina and contending with a turbulent relationship. The music that defines the central gay relationship in the film is the tango. That South American music defines the sensual mood of the film as the lovers separate, come together, and part again. When I interviewed Wong years ago he cited the description of the tango as "the vertical expression of a horizontal desire" as the one most fitting to his film.
"I choose the music because it is more than tango music it is just like a human heartbeat," Wong said.
I am also excited to see that there will be two recent films also screening. "The Sparring Partner" from last year is based on an actual homicide case about the murder of a couple by their son. The focus is more on courtroom drama than the crime itself with two very different suspects on trial.
The second film from 2022 is "Far Far Away," a rom-computer-com about a nerdy tech guy who dates woman from remote corners of Hong Kong. The bonus here is getting to see parts of Hong Kong that are less often shown.
All movies are in Cantonese with Chinese and English subtitles. Tickets are available online.
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