A Review of Shaolin Soccer, Her Fatal Ways and Comrades, Almost a Lover Story Films
Shaolin Soccer is a 2001 comic film directed by Stephen Chow. The plotline focuses on a Shaolin Monk and a brotherhood that suffers confusion and marginalization after the death of their master. Sing is the protagonist who has mastery of Shaolin Kung fu and he intends to use his skills to promote spiritual, practical, and cultural benefits of martial arts in modern Chinese society. On the other hand, Fung is recovering from betrayal and the loss of his legendary position in Hong Kong soccer. Sing and Fung team up to inspire other characters who are struggling with past failures and identities. The protagonists in the film are marginalized underdogs struggling to create a positive change in society. Their skills are obsolete in society and their struggle for their acceptance is the ultimate climax in the film. The characters in the film undergo different changes in life in their pursuit for their dreams and relevance in thee society (Ebert par 1). Therefore, the characters reflect on old relationships as they built on new identities.
The characters Sing (Mighty Steel Leg), Fung and Mui possess a marginalized identity. Their identity in society is characterized by different difficult situations. Sing and Fung form an attachment due to their failures and rejection in the community. Sing is a monk and Shaolin member and he enlists Fung’s help to promote Kung Fu through soccer. Fung life is defined by failure and betrayal as illustrated by his fall from grace. Fung was a top striker in his soccer team and after betrayal from his friend, he lives in poverty and rejection. The lives of Sing and Fung change after they enlist the Shaolin brotherhood into soccer. The team is built on commitment and a massive reawakening of their strengths and convictions. The disciples of Shaolin soccer utilize special power that earns the team and Sing victory and special recognition. A reflection of the old relationships acts a motivation for Sing and Fung to achieve their dreams (Ebert par 4). In essence, the film reflects on the old life of Sing and Fung and how the past motivates them to attain relevance in society.
Mui’s transformation is a reflection of character change and the pursuit of a new identity. Mui is the female protagonist who learns martial arts technique as part of her change. Mui is a baker who suffers from severe acne. The skin disease affects her self-reflection and worth. In addition, Mui is a victim of constant bullying from her boss, which make her to faithfully practice Tai Chi. Mui’s encounter with Sing brings a constant change in life. In essence, the characters pursue a different life and experiences by joining hands to introduce the old traditions to the modernized city.
Stephen Chow employs the comic aspect of style to express a serious issue in society. Chow’s style involves the underdog or the marginalized people in society. Comedy is included in the soccer and martial tactics that introduces comic violence and a crude sense of humor. For example, during the soccer match, the Shaolin soccer team faces Team Evil in rough and exaggerated violence. The director’s reference to American drugs explains the deviation from the traditional values and practices (Gongalez par 3). Therefore, Chow’s style contributes to the film’s narrative and different character traits.
The film Her Fatal Ways is a Hong Kong crime comedy directed by Alfred Cheung Kin Ting. The movie illustrates the cultural differences and clashes between Hong Kong and Mainland China. The narrative follows the escape of a criminal, Wong Ti after being extradited from Mainland China. The film comprises of conflicts between police men from the different divides of the law. The film is set in Hong Kong and captures the political and cultural changes witnessed in China after the hand-off. The pursuit of the escaped criminal is the duty of Cheng Shih-nan and Chief Inspector Wu Wei-kuo. The partnership between Cheng Shih-nan and Wu Wei-kuo is defined by rivalry following the cultural differences and Cheng past experiences with a military officer (Wu Wei-kuo’s father). In essence, the film captures two people from different political divides and this is a challenge in their fugitive hunt.
Cheng Shih-nan is defined by her inability to accomplish missions successfully as explained by the escape of Wong. She is defined by the communist ideals that prevent her from cooperating with Wu Wei-kuo and the Hong Kong police force. Given the change in the political mantra, the mainland police led by Cheng have the desire to proof and redeem themselves. Therefore, Cheng employs different tactics in the pursuit of the wanted criminal. The choice of method brings more chaos into a manhunt and the relationship between Cheng Shih-nan and Wu Wei-kuo. At the end of the film, Cheng Shih-nan and Wu Wei-kuo become friends, which demonstrate the end of the feud between the communist and the nationalists. Therefore, the characters are willing to do their best to achieve their intended mission.
Alfred Cheung Kin Ting employs the unique cinematography to capture the state of affairs in transitional Hong Kong. For example, the introductory scene contains a dilapidated bus, a desolate road, and other elements that express the social despair in society. In addition, the creator utilizes comedy and plot twists to bring about the narrative’s conflict. To properly explain the culture, politics and social stereotypes in China and Hong Kong, the creator’s employs political mockery as part of the character’s dialogue (Cheuk and Zhuo 196). Each character expresses their patriotism in different ways and some include the recitation of patriotic poems and uniform competition between Cheng Shih-nan and Chief Inspector Wu Wei-kuo. Therefore, Cheng Shih-nan and Chief Inspector Wu Wei-kuo are important in expressing the clash of Hong Kong and China cultures. Following the inevitable manhunt, Cheng Shih-nan and Chief Inspector Wu Wei-kuo become friends, which is a symbol of unity between the cultures and the political divide. Thus, Alfred Cheung Kin Ting unique technique successfully highlights the difference between Hong Kong and China.
Comrades: Almost a Love Storyis a 1996 film directed by Peter Chan and set during the China-Hong Kong transition. The characters Li Qiao and Li Xiao-Jun come from the mainland and each has a different interpretation and focus on social and economic elements. Li Xiao-Jun is fluent in Cantonese and she is an opportunist individual. On the other hand, Li Qiao seeks to exploit mainlanders. Li Qiao and Li Xiao-Jun migrate to Hong Kong with different agenda but they wallow in loneliness and end up in love affair. Li Xiao Jun migrates to Hong Kong in 1986 in the pursuit of greener pastures. His source of motivation is marriage. Li Qiao partakes in different jobs and schemes to obtain quick money and she intends to become rich. She is motivated by her family, particularly her mother (Lu and Lu 108). Therefore, the film focuses on the different character attributes and their motivation to find a stable source of sustenance in Hong Kong.
The characters Li Qiao and Li Xiao-Jun come from Mainland China. The creator introduces their different attitudes to survival and making money. Li Qiao adopts the capitalist agenda in making money as illustrated by the different ventures. For example, Li Qiao invests in stocks and recruits students for English lessons. Li Qiao method is the enlightened approach that seeks to adopt and apply the ethos of capitalism. On the hand, Xiao Jun adopts the traditional approach to employment by utilizing family connections to land jobs in the restaurant business (Lu and Lu 109). In essence, Li Qiao decisions indicate her openness to new cultures while those of Xiao Jun indicates that he is stuck with his old culture and identity.
Migration to Hong Kong is essential to shaping the character’s identity and future decisions. Li Qiao migration to Hong Kong introduces her to capitalistic ideals that change her perception of the economy. She adapts to the capitalist ideals and explains her identity as a grifter of other mainlanders. She applies the rules of capitalism to the extent that she exploits her own people. The state of capitalism in Hong Kong is illustrated by commercial energy, transport systems and the endless flow of people. Hong Kong is in a state of competition and the migrants have to adapt to the living conditions. Cherishing old relationships brings nostalgia to the characters who have to defy odds to reunite with their past. Old relationships explain the unsuccessful love story between Li Qiao and Li Xiao-Jun (Lu and Lu 109). Therefore, migration to Hong Kong brings a change in Li Qiao and Li Xiao-Jun traits and perception of society.
Peter Chan creation is filled with romance and drama. The film utilizes nostalgia, character hardships, and coincidences to advance the love story between Li Qiao and Li Xiao-Jun. Peter Chan applies allegory to Li Qiao and Li Xiao-Jun relationship, which reflects the dysfunctional association between China and Hong Kong. Li Qiao and Li Xiao-Jun’s identity is tied to the Chinese identity and struggles and migration to New York is the ultimate source of stability and new change in their lives. The aspect of melodrama is witnessed between China and Hong Kong as underscored by the characters (Stafford par 5). Thus, Peter Chan utilizes allegory to explore the dysfunctional relationship between China and Hong Kong.
What films do you prefer? What are the films that you don’t like as much? Explain why
Hong Kong cinema is unique captures the transition and the hand-over that brought about significant differences between mainland China and Hong Kong. In addition, the change explains the end of colonial tenets in China. I prefer films that explore the changes in Hong Kong and the constant conflict between East and West cultures. Some of the films covering the theme of change and transformation among the characters include Full Moon in New York, Shaolin Soccer, Farewell China, An Autumns Tale and Rouge. The Hong Kong culture is unique as illustrated through different films. In Full Moon in New York, the creator explores the lives of three immigrant women in New York. New York is defined by the western ideals and the women have different experiences. The women are united by their Hong Kong identity, which is a source of motivation to explore their common identity. The film is a blend of cultures and the protagonists’ union leads Chineseness to the identity (Lu and Lu 117). Another interesting film is An Autumn’s Tale that demonstrates the cultural differences between the East and West. The film captures the social and economic divide between the rich and the poor. The Hong Kong migrants, Jennifer Lee and Samuel Pang are struggling to survive in New York and adapt to the laws in the new city. Jennifer Lee is a Hong Kong student in New York and the new city brings an identity crisis. The film, Rouge also has characters that illustrate the divide between the rich and poor in Chinese society. The division is the cause of love between the characters that lead to a sad and sweet ending. Moreover, Chan and Fluer commit suicide to avoid societal judgment.
On the other hand, I dislike films that are not focused. Her Fatal Ways is a confusing film as underscored by the chaotic plotline. In addition, the title does not adhere to the narrative since the female protagonist is not fatal but a victim of changing regimes. The involvement of drugs and police chases fails to capture the social, cultural, and political conflicts between Hong Kong and Mainland China. The film Comrades, Almost a Lover Story comprises of an exaggerated storyline in which the characters are put in coincident meetings. For instance, the creator drags the storyline to bring the love and romance connections between characters. Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle comic representations also have exaggerated characters in terms of size and abilities. For example, in Shaolin Soccer, the creator brings to focus the evil team that comprises of gigantic people. In essence, Chinese martial arts and Kung Fu bring a playful aspect to the films meant to capture the Chinese culture and traditions.
Cheuk, Pak T., and Botang Zhuo. Hong Kong New Wave Cinema (1978-2000). Intellect Books, 2008.
Ebert, Roger. “Shaolin Soccer.” Movie Reviews and Ratings by Film Critic Roger Ebert | Roger Ebert, 23 April 2004, www.rogerebert.com/reviews/shaolin-soccer-2004. Accessed 7 June 2019.
Gongalez, Ed. “DVD Review: Shaolin Soccer.” Slant Magazine, 15 Aug. 2004, www.slantmagazine.com/dvd/shaolin-soccer/. Accessed 7 June 2019.
Lu, Hsiao-peng, and Sheldon H. Lu. China, Transnational Visuality, Global Postmodernity. Stanford UP, 2001.
Stafford, Roy. “Comrades, Almost a Love Story (Tian Mi Mi, Hong Kong 1996).” The Case for Global Film, 1 March 2009, itpworld.wordpress.com/2008/09/07/comrades-almost-a-love-story-tian-mi-mi-hong-kong-1996/. Accessed 7 June 2019.
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