‘Life’ carries regional flag for character-based drama

Berlin Daily Spotlight: Hong Kong Cinema

Hong Kong movies are famously gritty, urban affairs, often ending with the hero and the villain facing off against each other with heavy-caliber pistols in a zero-sum game, jacked up with big themes of honor and vengeance, combined with a dose of humor and a lot of top-drawer chopsocky.

These days, the pics are more likely to take place during the Warring States period of ancient China (475 to 221 B.C.), and although the big themes are still there, some Hong Kongers are worried that some of the territory’s character could be lost in translation back across the ages.

On the other hand, there are signs that smaller Hong Kong movies are proving resilient to growing pressures to produce commercial movies.

Ann Hui’s “A Simple Life,” is a case in point. Hong Kong’s foreign-language Oscar entry, the pic took helmer, actress and actor trophies at the Golden Horse Film Awards. Actress honors went to veteran Hong Kong thesp Deanie Ip, who also won at Venice in September for her role in the film.

The pic deals with the relationship between an aging domestic helper, played by Ip, and her employer, played by Andy Lau, who won the Golden Horse actor kudo.

Lau said the Golden Horse awards should be a rallying call for the Hong Kong film biz to emulate that of Taiwan. For many people, the success of “A Simple Life” has offered reassurance about the relative health of Hong Kong cinema.

Borders in disorder | ‘Life’ carries regional flag for character-based drama | The kings of kong

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