From Action to Crime, Beyond 1997: Reorienting the Study of the Hong Kong Action-Crime Film
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AbstractAction-crime was one of the dominant genres in Hong Kong cinema’s 1980s and 1990s heydays. While the films of John Woo, Ringo Lam and Kirk Wong received attention in early film scholarship on Hong Kong cinema, discussions of the genre were frequently framed within (and sometimes reduced to) the context of the 1997 Handover. Interest in the genre diminished somewhat in the new millennium, although studies of individual auteurs and films continued to appear. More recently the genre approach has seen a revival, with edited and single-authored volumes coming out on (neo-)noir (Yau and Williams 2017; Gallagher 2015), the gangster film (Po Fung 2014), and “surveillance cinema” (Fang 2017).

What is lacking so far, however, is a more comprehensive history of the Hong Kong crime film. The enormous scope of such a project poses several methodological challenges and questions. Firstly, why focus on a broad category like the crime film, rather than the more “manageable” gangster or police film? How does one discuss the history of the genre in the 1980s and 1990s, which frequently saw more than a hundred crime films appear each year? And finally, how do we reconceptualize these films’ connection to their historical context, while avoiding reducing them to one single factor, like the 1997 Handover? This paper will grapple with these challenges, proposing to treat the Hong Kong crime film as an “interpretive arena”, animated by tensions involving tradition and capitalist modernity, rule of man and rule of law, community and individual.
All Author(s) ListKristof Van den Troost
Name of ConferenceRethinking Film Genres 2017: East Asian Cinema and Beyond
Start Date of Conference14/09/2017
End Date of Conference15/09/2017
Place of ConferenceHull
Country/Region of ConferenceGreat Britain
LanguagesEnglish-United Kingdom

Last updated on 2018-10-10 at 17:02