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Musings from the Edge of Forever

Note: This blog expresses only the opinions of the blog owner,
and does not represent the opinion of any organization or blog
that is associated with RONIN ON EMPTY.

My Top Hong Kong Films of the 1990s — Epilogue


Well, that concludes my personal take on the top Hong Kong films of the 1990s. If you’re just joining us, please read this first:

Introduction: Top Hong Kong Films of the 1990s
Part 1: Tian Mi Mi
Part 2: Once Upon a Time in the Cinema
Part 3: Jackie Chan, Man of Action
Part 4: A Cop Named Tequila
Part 5: WKW is A-OK

All caught up? Great.

While I certainly enjoyed putting together that earlier massive list of my favorite films of the 2000s, I have to admit that this substantially shorter list was exponentially more fun. Writing this piece really brought back a lot of wonderful memories, reminding me why I fell in love with Hong Kong cinema in the first place.While my viewing preferences may have leaned towards martial arts films or John Woo-style guns-a-blazin’ Heroic Bloodshed flicks in the beginning, it wasn’t really kung fu or gunplay that sustained my interest. What I really loved and continue to love about Hong Kong cinema from this decade is that each film always seemed to be brimming with potential. Sure, I’ve seen my fair share of “just okay” and even downright terrible HK movies during the 90s, but more often than not, viewing a Hong Kong film felt like a real discovery.

I loved scanning the video shelves (both rental and sale) of my local Hastings (Your Entertainment Superstore!) and hoping beyond hope that a Hong Kong movie I’d never seen would be awaiting me. As a college student way back when, I had more free time than I knew what to do with, and so the ability to watch tons of movies was an opportunity I took full advantage of. I’d introduce friends to new movies, and they’d show me cult films that they loved, or we’d just end up discovering cool stuff together. Let me tell you from experience, that sort of community becomes increasingly rare as you get older — and if you’re a part of one now, enjoy it for all it’s worth. Unless you’re lucky, it’s something you will likely never experience ever again.

Sorry, but when it comes to Hong Kong cinema, I can’t help but get nostalgic.

To get back on topic, I should say that what always really impressed me was how a film industry as small as Hong Kong’s could produce so many movies in so little time. The fact that the resultant films had mostly coherent narratives is impressive in itself, but the fact that many of them turned out good and, in some cases, even great — well, that’s just plain miraculous.

And that’s what the Hong Kong cinema of this decade will always be to me — nothing less than movie magic.

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