“The films that we could see at the time were Cantonese opera films or comedies that no one laughed at. Many people ask me was Cantonese film facing its end? I told them Cantonese films only represent films made in Cantonese, they don’t represent films that are bad….At the time the companies I worked at and colleagues I worked with gave me a challenge. They said ‘why don’t you make better films then?’…The first thing that needed to be done was to change the types of films being made…I wouldn’t allow myself to tell the same story.”
Pioneering Hong Kong cinema director Patrick Lung Kong (龍剛 / 龙刚) who was recently featured in a retrospective at the Museum of the Moving Image passed away yesterday morning at his home in Staten Island, New York. Hong Kong’s Apple Daily has a report in Chinese, and Film Business Asia‘s obituary has a good timeline of his life and career. We’ll update this post if another obituary is published.
In the meantime, learn more about this director and how he changed Hong Kong cinema from Subway Cinema’s Grady Hendrix’s salute in Film Comment. Vadim Rizov recounts in Filmmaker Magazine of the discussion between Patrick Lung Kong, Tsui Hark (徐克), Sam Ho (film historian and former programmer of Hong Kong Film Archive), and Grady Hendrix at the Museum of the Moving Image on August 15, 2014 following the presentation of the Lifetime Achievement Award. SinoVision has a video report, and Asian in NY provides a transcript.
John Woo’s (吳宇森) heartfelt video tribute to Kong that was shown at the recent retrospective is online:
A couple of films are available with subtitles, albeit in dubious quality (this is why you go to screenings in theaters), on YouTube:
Story of a Discharged Prisoner (英雄本色):
After fifteen years of imprisonment, Lee Cheuk finds it difficult to stay straight as a triad boss tries to recruit his services and the police pressuring him to become an informant. The genre-defining film inspired John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow and in 2005 was #39 in the Hong Kong Film Awards‘ list of Top 100 Hong Kong films.
Teddy Girls (飞女正传 / 飛女正傳):
Gritty and violent, this film about a rebellious young woman sent to an all-girls reform school who later escapes to exact revenge male betrayers is more social commentary than exploitation film.
Love Massacre (爱杀 / 愛殺):
A Taiwanese student in San Francisco becomes involved with a man who becomes a murderous stalker when his affections are rebuffed. Visually stylized with help of Wong Kar-wai collaborator William Chang, this New Wave thriller evokes Rothko’s color palettes and Michelangelo Antonioni’s distant minimalist landscape geometries.
Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow (昨天今天明天) (no subtitles):
Albert Camus’s The Plague is the inspiration for this film about class and political conflict during a viral outbreak in Hong Kong. The film later received acclaim and gained contemporary relevance during the SARS outbreak at the turn of the millennium.
Image: Courtesy of Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, New York