Welcome to the second issue in kamera.co.uk’s ongoing series on international cinema. After bringing you a comprehensive report on Japanese film in our last special issue, this time our attention has shifted across the water to another powerhouse of Asian filmmaking – Hong Kong.
Up until 1997, when Britain returned control of Hong Kong to mainland China, this tiny island had been one of the richest and most productive cinema producers on the globe. As Simon Jones puts it in his opening article on the history of Hong Kong cinema: "It may come as a surprise, but for one quarter of the last century the harbour province of Hong Kong had, after Hollywood and Bollywood, the third largest film industry in the world."
As Leon Hunt explores in our second feature article, Hong Kong’s filmmaking culture was built on the foundations of kung fu and martial arts cinema. Most of the world’s martial arts stars cut their teeth on Hong Kong’s soundstages: Colin Odell and Michelle le Blanc look back over the long career of one of the greatest (and certainly the most durable) – the awesome Mr Jackie Chan.
But there’s more to Hong Kong filmmaking than roundhouses and fists of fury. The other articles in our Hong Kong issue explore some of its more recent offerings. Bob Carroll charts the careers of two giants of modern Hong Kong cinema, John Woo and Chow Yun Fat, and reviews the much-heralded psychological cop drama Infernal Affairs. To finish off the issue, Ingo Ebeling reviews the Young and Dangerous series, undoubtedly Hong Kong’s most successful and long-running film franchise.
As always with our special issues, there simply isn’t enough room to include all the material we would have liked. Our aim isn’t to provide a comprehensive guide to Hong Kong cinema, but to give a subjective snapshot of some of the ideas and individuals which have shaped its development. We hope this will encourage you to explore the fantastic world of Hong Kong film a little bit further.