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Old 19-Apr-2004, 12:34   #1
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Opinions and feedback on Hong Kong, Chinese, Japanese films

Hi, I'm doing an article for my A-level film studies coursework, about Asian Films, in particular Hong Kong, Chinese and Japanese Films, including Asian Extreme Cinema - but excluding Bollywood and such.

I just wanted to gather peoples opinions and thoughts about the industry, the films and how recently it has been more commonly recognised in Western Society today, with films like Ring, Dark Water, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Zatoichi, Battle Royale, Spirited Away etc, being slanted to main stream. Of which you may disagree with such a statement, but I am interested in what response you have.

Or has it always been recognised? with the Kung Fu, Gangster, John Woo films etc.

Any opinions and thoughts would be great. And its open to discussion and interpretation as of yet I don't have an angle to go on with my article... so any thing would be helpful!

Cheers.
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Old 19-Apr-2004, 12:52   #2
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I love hong kong movies i suppose its coz im a huge fan of jackie chan,sammo hung,jet lee etc etc etc have been for years tbh ,but im not a fan of fighting on wires movies (you know the ones! ) .But i do have to admit to prefering dubbed movies to subtitles Ps if you havent seen magnificent heroes go watch it now!
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Old 19-Apr-2004, 12:55   #3
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Uh, don't really know what you want so i'll give my opinion on some films. I love extreme Japanese cinema. Nowhere else in the world would you get films made like Ichi the Killer, Audition, Battle Royale etc. The Japanese version of Ring is superb, although i haven't watched the Western version to make a comparison there. The new Zatoichi is again, a class film. It is very gory in places, more so than a western film would be, but i think they get away with it by using obviously dodgy cgi, and by being SO ott as to make it unrealistic. The only recent western film to come close is perhaps Kill Bill.

I think the main difference these days is that the Oriental film companies aren't scared to make films for adults, and to make them violent, sexy, and nasty. Western film companies are going for as much dollar as they can, which these days means the teenage market, as kids have a vast amount of free cash to spend. This is why you see films being released as 15's, when before they would have been 18's. Lowering the age appeal of a film obviously dilutes what you can put into a film, and in my opinion, can ruin a film. Look at all the so-called Horror movies of recent years. How on earth a horror film can be decently scarey yet be a 15 rating is beyond me. Comapre these to the horror films of the 70's and 80's and you can see the problem this attitude to money is having. I imagine the Oriental industry will go the same way eventually, but i hope it won't be for some time yet, as i am loving the stuff being produced at the moment.
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Old 19-Apr-2004, 15:25   #4
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It also seems that if you take successful Eastern actors/directors and port them to Hollywood, they turn shite. Look at John Woo, Jackie Chan etc etc. Again, i believe this is down to the Western companies making them conform to the "sod the story, we want money" style of film making.
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Old 19-Apr-2004, 15:32   #5
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Eastern Cinema has always been held in high esteem, from the 40's to late 60's, but mainly in filmic circles for there cinematography, stories, characters and use of direction. However, an upsurge in interest more so in recent years by western audiences is partly down to the chop socky influences(Chan, Jet Lee, etc) and the darker later films (Ring, Dark Water, Royale) that whilst retaining many Eastern characteristics, cater more for a westernised audience.

Earlier influences from the 50's and 60's still have a powerful hold over me, I'm a huge fan of Akira Kurasowa and Seijun Suzuki, both are worth looking into further and watching several of there respective films, they were influenced by Western Ideals in some cases, but inturn they also influenced western cinema back greatly.

I don't know wether a slant on your thesis could be an arguement utilising the effect that the A-Bomb had on Eastern cultures and there view of things in regards to making films of a more adult nature, (excluding the obvious Gojira tales)
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Old 19-Apr-2004, 18:54   #6
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I think it's always been there to an extent, I certainly remember watching plenty Kung Fu flicks as a kid anyway, but they tended to be found in the murky depths of the betamax section in dingy video shops, these days even big video chains and most local libraries have pretty good foreign movie sections.

I think it's all just so more readily available now, what with the interweb, region free dvd's and such, even a few years back you'd pretty much need to get a lot of foreign stuff mail order, now it's everywhere.

Another factor I think might be a generation of old sods like me who grew up watching "Monkey" "The Water Margin", "Kung Fu" Bruce Lee / Jackie Chan flicks and that, Asian cinema or telly isn't "foreign" or "weird" to us, it's just the stuff we used to watch on Saturday afternoons, which may go some way to explain why it's been more embraced as a mainstream thing than, say Belgian film..

I think Lungers has hit the nail on the head though regarding the main reason it's so popular- Asian filmmakers in general seem completely unafraid of releasing some very f*cked up films indeed, while most of Hollywood has become increasingly bland and rubbish. I think, other than RotK, all my favourite movies this year were Asian...I am just off to watch Kill Bill though, and I have high hopes for that.

Another final point, I imagine there's a lot of right shit released in Asia, one would assume they only go to the bother of subtitling and importing the decent ones.? Might be creating an artificially high perspective of just how good Asian cinema as a whole is. ( pure conjecture btw, I don't live in Asia so I don't really know. )
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Old 19-Apr-2004, 19:14   #7
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Loads if asian films are really watchable, I like it all really from Jackie Chan/Bruce Lee to Battle Royale.

I think it has been slightly popular for a while now but redcently it seems we have embraced it more imo.
I personally have in the past couple of years found any asian film watchable but that may have just come with maturity.
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Old 19-Apr-2004, 22:12   #8
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Akira Kurosawa has been a MAJOR influence to Western filmmakers. Star Wars was based on the Kurosawa film Hidden Fortress and the Magnificant Seven was based on his Seven Samurai.

Martial arts films have been popular since the seventies, but generally I think other Eastern films have been almost solely cult based (a few Kurosawa films achieved Western success though I think, Kagemusha? Rashomon?). Maybe it is just that only now the big American money is recognising that what was once cult is now getting enough support to be worthwhile commercialising (Ringu remake, Disney doing the dubbing for the American release of Spirited Away, etc.).

Eastern society is totally different from Western, so the films each make is different, and so we find Eastern films so original and refreshing.
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Old 20-Apr-2004, 00:34   #9
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Cheers guys, interesting points you have bought up. Yeah I forgot to mention Jet Li films and Jackie Chan ones etc.

I do quite like the good old Police Story mind you, now they're classics.

I like your point Danred, well your suggestion about the effect of the A bomb and how its influenced/affected Eastern Culture, in particular Japan.

Got quite a lot to work with here thanks again!

Just a quick basic question. Do you people feel that subtitles, even though they are great, can side track you from the action going on in the scene? Or it doesn't really bother you?
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Old 20-Apr-2004, 02:30   #10
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Once you are used to watching subtitles you dont even notice them. I can read subtitles and miss nothing of the action.

Only time subs are bad/annoying is when you cant see them, ie the picture happens to be the same colour as the words for a time. Black and white subtitled films especially suffer from this.


In the context of your coursework I can imagine subtitles would/have played a part in the enduring 'cultiness' of Eastern films; stopping them from going mainstream. Dubbing is an atrocity, but how many 70s martial arts flicks are subtitled? The average casual filmgoer probably just doesnt want to have to read subs, so the only people who get to see these cool films are people prepared to read.
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Old 20-Apr-2004, 10:00   #11
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I think there is a link with the computer games industry too, a lot of us that grew up with nintendo and sega etc. took more of an interest in japanese culture and anime films, Akira and the like being very popular at my school amongst the gamers, as we've grown up that influence has passed on to watching other film types and bringing people from outside the gamer loop into watching them to the point where films become cult and then mainstream with things like crouching tiger etc. (also princesss mononoke, just wanted to mention it as it rocks.)

I think the fact there are also a lot more japanese cartoons and things of that nature, all of it adds up to give the asian cultures a more mainstream audience so it's not strange to go and see it, instead of a "why would i be interested in seeing that?" approach it's "oo, wonder what that's like?"

I do think subtitles hold some films back from becoming even more popular, i personally don't like watching subtitles but it doesn't stop me seeing a film, but for a lot of people it does. Ironically maybe films like The Passion.. will have a positive effect on the asian film industry simply because so many have gone to see a subtitled film and realised they can watch and read at the same time without losing the whole point of the film.
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Old 20-Apr-2004, 11:01   #12
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Thing is, one thing i have noticed, is that even with subtitles, the dialogue doesn't seem to match the mouth movements. E.g. Filmed in mandarin, dubbed to cantonese, with english subtitles! Although this is mainly with the older HK cinema movies, like the Mr. Vampire trilogy etc.
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Old 20-Apr-2004, 11:09   #13
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Chow Yun Fat's early movies, like Killer and Hard-Boiled are wicked.. like I said in another thread He and John Woo did loads for that type of cinema
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Old 30-Apr-2004, 12:52   #14
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Cheers guys, I've finally wrote up the whole article, in style of "Sight and Sound" 1000 odd words, bit short, but it'll do.

I used a lot of the information you lot gave me, so I greatly appreciated the feedback.

Thanks once again!
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Old 30-Apr-2004, 13:09   #15
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I forgot to mention new scary films, like Ju On and The Ring... The Japanese are leading the way in modern horror genre.
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