Many of you will have seen The Departed by Martin Scorsese for which he won his only Oscar. Fewer of you will know that the story for the film was ‘borrowed’ from a 2002 Hong Kong crime thriller called Infernal Affairs directed by Andy Lau and written by Felix Chong.
In recognition of Hong Kong’s contribution to cinema, HOME in Manchester is screening a season of Hong Kong crime thrillers. It has been put together by Dr Andy Willis who is currently senior visiting curator in film at HOME and consists of 20 of the finest HK crime films you are ever likely to see in one place.
The real coup of the season is the visit to Manchester of Felix Chong. Not only is he the writer of the fantastic Infernal Affairs, which is ten times better than Scorsese’s plodding adaption, but a director in his own and highly successful right. Felix Chong will be at HOME on March 1 and 4, 2016 in a series of Q&As with Willis, together with the UK premiere of two of his films, Once a Gangster (2010) and Overheard 3 (co-director Alan Mak, 2014). As the title might suggest, Overheard 3 is not part of a series of sequels but the latest in a trilogy of free-standing movies. They were a huge box office success across Asia and HOME is screening all three. It will be a real pleasure to see Chong in person talk about his work and the legacy of Hong Kong crime films.
There is also the UK premiere of Wild City (2015) directed by Ringo Lam. The film is an ‘exciting and stylish neo-noir’ in a story about a former cop and his wayward brother as they take on a ruthless gang of Taiwanese gangster. The film is screened as part of the Chinese Film Forum UK, an annual Chinese New Year film presentation and kindly supported by the Confucius Institute at the University of Manchester and one not to miss. In fact, there are so many gems in this season it is difficult to pick out the highlights. They range from archive classics such as Yue Feng’s The Swallow Thief from 1961 to Jackie Chan’s Police Story (1985). I’m particularly looking forward to Election (2005) directed by the great Johnnie To. I have this in my DVD collection but I can’t wait to see it on the big screen. There is the wayward Wong Kar-wai’s debut As Tears Go By (1988). A bonus feature includes an introduction by Gary Bettinson, author of The Sensuous Cinema of Wong Kar-wai.
To put the whole season in context, there is a one hour introduction, Crime: From Hong Kong to Hollywood, by Andy Willis in which he will assess the influence of Hong Kong crime films on Hollywood film-makers (February 25). Selected films will be on tour throughout the country so keep an eye out for details in the local press as well as a tie in with Film 4. I think it is a huge feather in the cap of HOME and Andy Willis, Rachel Hayward and Jessie Gibbs, the team who put it all together. It is also another milestone in Manchester’s long association with film-making in Hong Kong and long may it continue.
Crime: Hong Kong Style will run at HOME from February 4 to April 7, 2016. More info here.