If you want to get an overview of Hong Kong cinema of the last twenty years – and who doesn’t? – you would do well to start by focusing in on Tsui Hark (“choy hok,” roughly). Tsui is a director, producer, occasional actor and the founding mogul, with wife Nansun Shi, of the production company Film Workshop. He has churned out a laundry list of hits, birthed and resurrected whole genres, presided over many of the industry’s modern technical advances and mentored other artists, like John Woo and Jet Li, to icon status. When he’s in the mood, he can also make a darn good movie.
Following is a highly personal and subjective catalog of the work of my favorite Asian filmmaker, with comments. It will grow and change as my knowledge and opinions do. It includes both Tsui’s work as a director and his equally important work as a producer, in which capacity, being a self-admitted control freak, he often serves as an unofficial co-director. Where Tsui produced, the director is noted.
Happily, the bulk of his films, like much contemporary HK film, are available in the U.S. with relative ease. Most can be found with English subtitles of varying quality and readability; look for these on VHS and DVD from San Francisco-based Tai Seng Video, the largest official distributor of HK videos to North American markets. If you’re DVD-ready, though, you can find the imports cheaper at online sources like PokerIndustries.com and DDDHouse.com. In addition, we’re seeing more HK movies released here in American editions packaged for roundeye consumption, including Tsui’s Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain, Once Upon a Time in China 1, 2 and 3 and Time and Tide. For information and reviews on various DVD editions, log on to AsianDVDGuide.com.
Get the entire catalog in part two of ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA: THE TSUI HARK REPORT>>>