Monday, November 17, 2008

HKU, Loke Yew and their links to movies

Glimpses of old and new
at the
university of and in Hong Kong

As some of my friends among this blog's readers know, I've spent more time at institutions of higher learning than is good for me. So much so that in recent years, I've tried to steer clear of such places for the most part. The past three weeks, however, have seen me thrice on the University of Hong Kong's main campus; once for work purposes but twice voluntarily.

On my most recent visit, it was to attend a classical music concert by violinist Yao Jue, pianist Cheng Wai and the City Chamber Orchestra of Hong Kong at Loke Yew Hall inside the university's main building. While I enjoyed the performances on offer that evening, I have to admit that what has lingered with me from that night more than the music is the fact that the occasion provided me with yet more connections and associations of the kind that makes me continue to feel -- the latest cries and laments of the death of Hong Kong cinema notwithstanding -- that I am living in a cinematically rich space.

For one thing, Loke Yew Hall just happens to be named after the husband of Loke Cheng Kim and father of Loke Wan Tho, the co-founders of what would come to be known as Cathay Organisation, the film company that -- for a time -- was the main rival of the Shaw Brothers and produced cinematic gems aplenty, especially in late 1950s to early 1960s heyday.

For another, as a quick glance around the place will easily confirm, atmospheric Loke Yew Hall also happens to be where scenes of Ang Lee's Lust, Caution was filmed! (Remember, after all, that Tang Wei, Wang Leehom and co's Lust, Caution characters were University of Hong Kong students for a time; this in addition to such as Leon Lai and Hsu Chi's characters in HKU alumnus Mabel Cheung's City of Glass...)

And as if to truly make me feel like I'm living in a giant movie set, on the bus back to my apartment that evening, as we passed by the street that I lived until just a few months, I saw a film crew filming at the convenience store at the corner. Yes, really, just like that... and as such, gives this movie geek still more occasions and reasons to feel that she ought to pinch herself in order to believe that she really is living over here in Hong Kong. ;b


Glenn, kenixfan said...

Yeah, I remember thinking at the time how much older and more glamourous Leon Lai and Shu Qi looked as they wandered the campus in City of Glass.

And in Lust, Caution, I recall the main scenes with the play in the older looking auditorium.

YTSL said...

Hi Glenn --

Re your first comments: I take it that, like me, you figured that Leon and Hsu Chi just were too old to realistically play university students? ;b

Also, here's confirming that that "older looking auditorium" is indeed Loke Yew Hall. :)

sbk said...

hi ytsl,

What fun to be attending a concert and realize you're sitting in a movie location!!!

I too remember watching Leon Lai and Shu Qi in "City of Glass". I didn't think that they were a bit old for college students (which they were) but that my college classmates never looked as good ;-)

HKU has a small museum which I enjoyed-a history of Hong Kong transportation exhibit was on when I went.

YTSL said...

Hi sbk --

Yes, indeedy re it feeling so fun and cool when the realization hits -- be it when attending a concert, just walking about Hong Kong, etc. Then there's the people -- when people you've seen in movies suddenly appear in your physical vicinity... ;b

Re the HKU museum: Funny, I think we separately went and checked out the same exhibition there -- on trams, right? That's definitely one of the better exhibitions I've seen there. :)