Tsui, Take Three

29 May

A move in genre, but still in Genre. That is where Tsui’s 1984 feature Shanghai Blues is.

The first film produced under Tsui’s production company, Film Workshop, Shanghai Blues is a romantic-comedy of melancholy, whimsy, and neon. Set in Shanghai, Gwok-man and Aak-suk agree to meet up after the second Sino-Japanese war against Japan. Years’ pass and when the war ends it is time to see if they will keep true to their promises to each other and to themselves. The uncertainty of Shanghai’s future is echoed in the uncertainty of where they characters stand, all of which are set to a beautiful score by Wong Jim.

And to end both the evening and Cinematheque’s look at Tsui Hark is The Master. Set in Los Angeles, this 1989 feature stars Jet Li before he had filmed Once Upon a Time in China and was thus unreleased until 1992. Despite being set in America, The Master is as full of martial arts and dialogue clichés as any other of Tsui’s work. Jet Li plays Jet, a martial arts expert who, having been robbed by a trio of petty-gangsters agrees to train them. Whilst this is going on, bad guy Jonny is closing down martial arts school and has targeted Jet’s master, Uncle Tak.

A story of redemption, romance and revenge, the perfect way to end a look at Tsui’s work.

Melbourne Cinematheque runs every Wednesday at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)

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