The cinema from Hong Kong’s golden era is like no other. Kinetic, bizarre, graphic, violent, brutal, artful, beautiful, hilarious, the films ran the gamut. They had higher highs and lower lows then their western counterparts during this era. Highly influential on American cinema throughout the 90’s, the films were notoriously difficult to find if you even knew what to look for to begin with. The films were imported, often times through grey market companies using dodgy prints, and sold in specialty stores around the country. Sometimes you could find some gold at your local mom & pop video store but more often than not you had to go beyond the safety of your favorite store and venture out into the wide world or roll the dice on films out of shady catalogs. Still the power of the films made the hunt worth it and crossed all barriers of difficulty. Keeping the films straight was tough. A reference guide was needed big time, enter The Hong Kong Filmography by John Charles.
The Hong Kong Filmography boasts 1,100 (!) reviews of Hong Kong cinema from 1977-1997. That is a ton of films to come from a tiny island in a mere 20 years. The crazy thing is, i’m sure there are probably hundreds (or more) films that the author didn’t review during that era. The book covers traditional kung fu films, heroic bloodshed action flicks, comedies, romantic films, dramas, and even some naughty adult fare. This endows the book with an encyclopedic quality that wont’ be rivaled anytime soon. Each film has extensive notes on the writers/actors/directors etc, run times, plot summary, succinct and well written review, as well as a rating out of a possible 10 points.
The book is a pleasure to thumb through and scan the page until something catches your eye. The information contained within the pages is authoritative, heck Tim Lucas even wrote the foreword for this beast. If you’re looking into digging deeper into the wild world of Hong Kong cinema this book has you covered with plenty of great films to go out and find. To this day many of the titles covered in this book are hard to find so even after over a decade since it’s original publication it’s still a powerful tool in the hunt for quality HK cinema. You’re not just going to stumble upon these flicks on Netflix. You’ll have to dig deep to find the treasures contained within. Thankfully, you now have a guide to get you to the gold.