Terrific Tsui, Take One

18 May

Dangerous Encounters - First Kind

And now, a change of pace- a look at the Hong Kong new wave through Tsui Hark’s films. Tsui, influenced by the comic books of his youth and studying film in America in the 1970s, experienced commercial failure early on in his career. It was only a matter of time however until his films- strongly genre influenced and exploitive in nature- started to become iconic. Over the next three weeks cinematheque will be looking at six of Tsui’s features from throughout the 1980s and 1990s starting off with Dangerous Encounters- First Kind (1980).

Dangerous Encounters- First Kind follows a group of students who accidently kill a pedestrian. From here, they seem to find trouble at every turn. With misspent youths having taken to blowing things up, a ruthless police force with one too many guns on hand, and its political subtext it is easy to see why the British colonial forces repressed the film and only let it be seen in a highly censored version.

Once Upon a Time in China (1991) is the first in a series of films directed by Tsui and staring Jet Li as the Chinese folk-hero, martial arts expert, and traditional Chinese medical practitioner, Wong Fei-Hung. The year is 1875 and the village of Fat-san feels threatened by American and other foreign forces and so Wong is asked to train local villages in martial arts. Naturally he falls in love with a woman he cannot obtain, and some people threaten his power, and he adopts a protégé. Yet in true Tsui style this film is also an homage to Sergio Leone’s Westerns, and is just the right amount of gaudy and over-the-top for it all to be able to come together.

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