Hong Kong Cinema

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Sam Maloney
International Cinemas
September 19th, 2011
Restivo, MW 12:00
“One artistic strength of Hong Kong cinema, then, is its use of parallels and motifs—musical, visual, or verbal—to bind together episodically plotted films.” : In Plots p 120
So far in this Chinese Cinemas class, I have noticed something every film we have viewed in class and every Hong Kong film I have watched outside of the lecture: the stories flow perfectly. At first the films could come off as confusing and spotty with all the kung-fu and epic stories. The Hong Kong films we have viewed so far have these elaborate story lines that, with thanks to pristine editing and construction, flow perfectly and the story is conveyed to the viewer with no confusion. David Bordwell explains in his book Planet Hong Kong that devices such as parallels, flashbacks, and motifs become very useful when the story is constructed perfectly. But, not all Hong Kong films need kung-fu to make the stories interesting.

In the film He’s a Woman, She’s a Man (1994), Bordwell discusses the uses of parallels and motifs a film uses as it moves along. Wing, a young fan girl who worships the singer Rose and her affair with her composer, Sam Koo, disguises herself and enters an audition to become closer to her idols. Sam chooses Wing to prove he can make a star out of anyone and packages she, disguised as a he, into the perfect superstar. But thanks to Wings womanhood, Sam’s staff thinks Wing is gay, which begins to be a problem for Sam when he begins to find Wing attractive. Worried by being homosexual, Sam breaks off his relationship with Rose and moves away from Wing.

The use of parallels in this movie helps the characters mature during the story. The film takes place over one year beginning with Rose, an accomplished singer, accepting an award and telling Sam, her producer and lover, that she loves him. A year later, Rose wins another award but announces she and Sam are finished. Bordwell...
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