Director: Ian Taylor
Writer: Ian Taylor
Cast: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, Lau Kar-Leung, David Chiang, Shih Kien, Gordon Liu, Cheng Pei Pei, Chor Yuen
Running Time: 55 min.
By Mighty Peking Man
After watching Ian Taylor’s Chop Socky: Cinema Hong Kong, I realize how much of a Hong Kong film connoisseur I’m not. The essence of this IFC produced documentary is that it digs deep into the beginnings of Hong Kong cinema, with well researched historical information and clips from some of the first Chinese films. It goes back from 1928′ Burning of the Red Lotus Monastery and 1949’s The True Story of Wong Fei Hung to the newer films that they inspired such as Drunken Master and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.
Dozens of action-packed scenes are showcased, covering everything from Shaw Brothers titles like Come Drink With Me, One-Armed Swordsman, and Magic Blade to Bruce Lee’s Fist of Fury and Jet Li’s Once Upon A Time In China and many more. Honourable mentions include the renowned Shaw Brothers studios, King Hu, Chang Cheh, and of course, Bruce Lee.
There are trivia footnotes scattered throughout, such as the huge influence Japanese film had on Hong Kong cinema (like 1962’s Zatoichi) and Jackie Chan explaining how he became famous by being everything Bruce Lee was not. Common practices regarding the production of Hong Kong film are also explored such as camera techniques, special effects, and the usage of prop weapons. Lau Ka-Leung and Gordon Liu, two of the Shaw Brothers’ top stars, are shown doing some of these demonstrations.
The documentary is packed with interviews with some of Hong Kong cinema’s most influential players like Sammo Hung (Winners & Sinners), Lau Ka-Leung (Legendary Weapons of China), David Chiang (The New One-Armed Swordsman), Shih Kien (Enter the Dragon), Gordon Liu (36th Chamber of Shaolin), Cheng Pei Pei (Come Drink With Me), Chor Yuen (The Magic Blade) and many others.
I personally could have done without some of the X-Men and The Replacement Killers clips but they were obviously thrown in to justify the influence Kong Kong films have on popular Hollywood action films of today. For a running time of 55 minutes, Chop Socky: Cinema Hong Kong does a damn good job of giving the viewer a quick, but efficient insight into one the world’s most exciting cinema. I especially recommend this documentary to anyone who still hasn’t got into Shaw Brothers films, as they seem to be showcased more than anything, and that’s a good thing.
Mighty Peking Man’s Rating: 8/10