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Hong Kong Film History

 

The first Hong Kong film was Zhuangzi Tests His Wife in 1913. The director was Lai Man-Wai, called the Father of Hong Kong Cinema, who also played the wife himself.

Unfortunately the Hong Kong film industry didn't take off until after World War II.

In the 1950s and early 1960s, Cantonese movies were the dominant. Mostly Wu Xia films with cheesy props and special effects using crude animation drawn on top of the film. Drama and Cantonese opera on film was some of the most popular The Wah Tat Studio was the dominant studio.

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the industry changed to mostly Mandarin movies. The Shaw Brothers Studio and the Golden Harvest Studio were the most popular. Other popular areas were a musical genre called Huang2 Mei2 Diao4 and love stories based on novels by Chiung Yao.

In the late 1970s, a new generation of Wu Xia film probably started by The dragon inn with a lot of wire work and acrobatic moves. This brought about a come-back of Cantonese movies. The most popular films were Michael Hui with his comedies, Kung fu, Police/Criminal, and ghost stories.

During the 1990s, the Hong Kong film industry underwent a significant decline, caused by the Asian economic crisis which dried up traditional sources of film finance. Revenues generated by the Hong Kong motion picture industry halved during this period. Some of the decline was also caused by Hollywood in the United States signing popular movie figures such as John Woo, Jackie Chan and Chow Yun-Fat to make movies directly for the U.S. domestic market.

In an effort to halt the decline of the local industry, the Hong Kong Government in April 2003 introduced a Film Guarantee Fund as an incentive to local banks to become involved in the motion picture industry again. The guarantee operates to secure a percentage of monies loaned by banks to film production companies. The Fund has received a mixed reception from industry participants, and less than enthusiastic reception from financial institutions who perceive investment in local films as high risk ventures with little collateral.

Some positive results has recently produced hits such as Stephen Chow's Shaolin Soccer which broke new ground in the use of special effects.

Some major films that were shot in Hong Kong include: Macao (1952), Love is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955), Ferry to Hong Kong (1959), The World of Suzie Wong (1960), Lord Jim (1965), You Only Live Twice (1967), Enter the Dragon (1973), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), Revenge of the Pink Panther (1978), Year of the Dragon (1985), Tai-Pan (1986), Double Impact (1991), Mortal Kombat (1995), Rush Hour (1998), Rush Hour 2 (2001), Spy Game (2001), and Die Another Day (2002),


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