Sunday, July 1, 2007

In Hong Kong 10 years after the Handover

Panda-themed 10th anniversary
illuminated display in Victoria Park ;)

On June 30, 1997, I was one of millions -- maybe billions even? -- who watched on television the Handover ceremony that saw Hong Kong being returned by the British back to China. Little did I think that ten years on, I'd be in Hong Kong on the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR); never mind interviewing people like superstar singer-actress Miriam Yeung, indie films director and cultural commentator Evans Chan, filmmaker Barbara Wong Chun Chun and renowned cellist Trey Lee in the days leading up to July 1, 2007, and getting their thoughts about this historic milestone along with some related events.

But, as I've discovered all too often and well, over the past decade, one's life-path can -- for better or worse -- take one to places that one never imagined, let alone planned for it to go. Also, that even as certain goals stay unfulfilled (or even end up getting abandoned), other dreams -- including those which one might have thought were more likely to be mere "castles in the air"-type fantasies than anything seriously concrete -- can become reality.

Returning to earth and in any event, the following are some of my contributions to the latest issue of bc magazine:-

1) Interviews with the lovely Miriam Yeung and bubbly Barbara Wong (along with a review of Simply Actors) can be found over here (scroll down for the Barbara Wong interview and Simply Actors review);

2) An interview with Evans Chan which I think provides quite a bit of food for thought;

3) An interview with Trey Lee; and

4) A feature article on Mainland Chinese archetypes in Hong Kong movies that's provocatively entitled...Crook, Whore, Fallgal, Cop!

And although I didn't write it, here's also recommending that people check out this piece by resident columnist, Spike -- who happens to be the self-described lao wai (trans. "old guy") behind the Hongkie Town blog.

Happy reading to my readers -- and happy 10th anniversary, Hong Kong! (And should anyone wonder about my plans for today, suffice to say that it includes a big-screen viewing of Project A II -- one of ten films in the special 1997, Before and After: Commemorating Ten Years of Reunification programme at the Hong Kong Film Archive.) :)


eliza bennet said...

I don't know if it is appropriate to say "congratulations" regarding the handover since none of the Hongkies I know are happy with it (which is very very puzzling as far as I'm concerned).

But congratulations on your interviews and reviews and also congratulations to us who can enjoy many goodies from your lovely prose.

YTSL said...

Hi "eliza bennet" --

As Evans Chan said: if Hong Kongers had been given the option, most would probably have opted for independence rather than being handed back over to China and/or staying a British colony.

As for your finding their feelings puzzling: Hong Kong was the first British colony to not be given independence. Also, as I'm sure you realize from watching Hong Kong movies and such, there's a distinct sense of Hong Kong identity out there. In view of this fact, surely it's somewhat understandable that many Hong Kongers were not particularly enamoured about not being allowed to go it alone?

At the same time, the general consensus is that the 10th anniversary of the Handover is a good time for reflection, and realization that things generally are far better than was feared that it would be in 2007 back in 1997. And in view of the latter (the glass is half full) perspective, perhaps there's some cause to celebrate and congratulate after all.

glenn ( said...

Wow, so you got to interview Miriam Yeung in person?

That is pretty cool. She is really funny even though I'm sure I am missing some comedy bits lost in the subtitles.

Confession: My day-time job is at a large, non-profit nursing organization where I edit exams for nurses in certain specialities (just for format and style and grammar as I am not a nurse by any means).

So I too have a nursing connection.

I respect Miriam for doing 2 Become 1 as it was quite different than her usual work -- maybe she felt she had to make up for the silly Drink, Drank, Drunk?

Frugal Game is quite good and I really like Dry Wood, Fierce Fire.

Movies like that and the Miriam-less Crazy 'N' the City make Hong Kong look like such a unique, fun, and vibrant place.

YTSL said...

Hi Glenn --

Yes, I really did get to interview Miriam Yeung in person -- and reckon, post doing so, that she looks prettier and is far more thoughtful and intelligent than her movie appearances may lead one to believe! (And should you wonder: Yes, she speaks English -- and very well too!)

And the totally unexpected bonus of the Miriam meeting? After I bid goodbye to her, I turned around to go down the stairs of the building that we were in and who I should I see standing on the stairs but...a smiling plus super handsome Leon Lai!!!!!!!! :b

glenn ( said...

You know, you are making me think that Hong Kong is just bursting with movie stars on every street corner!

I know that LoveHKFilm has had a few laughs at Leon's expense -- at least at his acting talents or lack thereof -- BUT I'm sure that, given the right material, he could be a good actor.

He was not bad in City of Glass. But he would have to do about a dozen more of that sort of film to make up for Wesley's Mysterious File!

I am just fascinated now: Lily Ho, Miriam, and Leon!

Man, if you run into Anita Yuen I am going to be very jealous!

(though she just had a baby, didn't she? she's retired for moment I guess post-Protege)

- Glenn

Spike said...

Thanks for the link!

eliza bennet said...

Miriam has a special place in my heart because Dry Wood Fierce Fire was the first HK film I have seen in an actual HK film theater.

YTSL, if you ever interview or meet Anthony Wong, you have to pass my most sincere regards and adoration ok?

As far as I observed HK'ers would choose to remain under British rule rather than Chinese (if independence is not an alternative that is).

But considering the speed China is growth and the money that is pouring in there, I'm sure many will start to feel differently in a few years :)

YTSL said...

Hi again Glenn --

I wouldn't go so far as to say that Hong Kong is just bursting with movie stars at every street corner but I think it pays to be observant! At the same time though, even someone like myself who's actually rather notorious for not being very good at spotting stars -- my first reaction when seeing Leon Lai was "what a handsome fellow"; and only then did I realize who the handsome fellow was! ;D -- can't help but make a few spottings of my own... ;b

More re Leon Lai: In his defence, he wasn't in WESLEY'S MYSTERIOUS FILE. (Andy Lau OTOH...) Also, the top five Leon Lai movies I'd recommend to males along with females are: COMRADES, ALMOST A LOVE STORY; A HERO NEVER DIES; INFERNAL AFFAIRS III; THREE: GOING HOME; and either MOONLIGHT IN TOKYO or -- if you're more into arthouse cinema -- FALLEN ANGELS. :)

Hi Spike --

You're welcome re the link. :)

Hi again "eliza bennet" --

Will pass your regards and adoration on to Anthony Wong if I have cause to have a conversation with him on an informal basis. However, I actually do *try* to leave the fangirl part of me out of work situations... ;S

As for your political assertions: Suffice to say that I'm just not as sure as you about such matters.

glenn ( said...

Oops. You are right.

I think I was thinking of Dream of a Warrior -- that Korean/Chinese thing with Leon which was actually beyond bad.

I forgot he was in Comrades; that's a good movie, for sure.

I liked Fallen Angels but have yet to watch Infernal Affairs 2 or 3 or Three which I own.

hdoong said...

hi, just want to tell you that i love your piece on Mainland Chinese archetypes over at bc. great work and so enjoyable to read :)

eliza bennet said...

"I think I was thinking of Dream of a Warrior -- that Korean/Chinese thing with Leon which was actually beyond bad."

Yeah he truly was. One doesn't think it possible but he was. It was probably the worst performance by an actor in the profession ever.

I was spared by Wesley's Mysterious Files, I managed to watch the trailer and it was enough.

YTSL, thanks anyway. Don't be a fangirl for me in informal situations too :) It was too much of me to ask, sorry (got my myself in the heat of the star spotting talk) And you don't share my level of enthusiasm as far as Anthony Wong is concerned anyway :)

As for HK handover, looks like I have to trust/and stick to my observations...

YTSL said...

Hi once more Glenn --

Aaah, yes, "Dream of a Warrior". From all accounts, am very glad that I gave that a wide berth! ;b

Hi hdoong --

Glad you like that piece. Must admit that even I kind of tend to overlook it -- seeing as it's in the same issue as my interviews with Miriam Yeung and Evans Chan, two pieces which I feel very happy with. :)

Hi once more "eliza bennet" --

"As for HK handover, looks like I have to trust/and stick to my observations..."

Or check out my Evans Chan piece. Honestly, I felt like he made a lot of very interesting observations there.

kitliew said...

Aaargh!!! I envy you lah! Get to see super stars and interview them. And also the Hong Kong handover celebration. No matter what, if Hong Kong has to choose between the 2, it's better to be under the Chinese than foreigners ;) After all, I don't see the Chinese is torturing the Hong Kongers. But of course, if life is as simple as choosing what we want without boundary, independance is the best la.

Why not you hire me as your photographer to shoot all your super stars ah??? Heheheee.... Aiyah, I'll charge you cheap cheap one :P

eliza bennet said...

I have read your Evans Chan article/interview and it actually strengthened my opinion.

He said:
“I always felt that if Hong Kongers were allowed a referendum, they might not have chosen to revert to China"

Also I felt a sort of self cencure on his part, but this was just an intiution fueled by excerpts such as" "And something else the British may have helped to bequeath to the SAR is the emergence of a distinct Hong Kong identity. “Not that it’s a separatist movement,” Chan rushes to add.

YTSL said...

Hi Kit --

Hmmmm, it's not like your job leaves you entirely bereft of superstar encounters. So don't get too envious there! As for hiring you as a photographer: What -- and deprive me of the pleasure of photographing the stars? ;b

Hi yet again "Eliza Bennet" --

On a more serious note (than mine to Kit): Must say that I am quite surprised that reading the Evans Chan article/interview strengthened your opinion. But, then, it's always possible to read into things and opinions what you want to see and I think this is one more matter that it'd be best for us to agree to disagree about and leave it at that.

The Great Swifty said...

"I think I was thinking of Dream of a Warrior -- that Korean/Chinese thing with Leon which was actually beyond bad."

Yeah he truly was. One doesn't think it possible but he was. It was probably the worst performance by an actor in the profession ever.

The movie itself was so horrible that I saw past the horrible acting. I thought it was a bad dream after watching it.

Liked the Miriam Yeung interview! Hooked on You was a decent movie, the ending was unexpected though.

BTW: I think the more accurate translation for 'lau wai' 老外 might be 'expat', 'foreigner' or something like that.

YTSL said...

Hi Swifty --

FWIW, thought that the unexpected ending is what made "Hooked On You" really special... :)

As for "lau wai": You may be right. My Cantonese still is not as good as I'd like it to be... ;S