Plans for a
Hong Kong Cinema Web Site
(or Watch this Space)
I first created this web site, my goal was simple. I figured
that it would be cool to have all my reviews stored in a browser-friendly
way such that I could surf through them just like one of those
fancy web sites on the World Wide Web. Having some minor web
experience made the decision easier. Losing my job made the
decision a complete no brainer.
So I threw all of my info together
and cobbled together LoveHKFilm.com.
As an added bonus, I actually went ahead and put the entire
thing on the World Wide Web such that complete strangers from
around the globe could now sample/praise/denounce my decidedly
wacky musings on the state of Hong Kong Cinema. That was four
months ago, and so far I've received no death threats.
However, times have changed.
Savings have depleted. And the site no longer belongs to just
also belongs to the other writers on the site (Hi to Lee and
Jennifer...and hopefully Erika), as well as various parties
who may have thrown a nickel or two our way. And, if the site
does receive some sort of commercial support (which is becoming
more inevitable as each day passes), it'll kind of belong
to them too.
More importantly, LoveHKFilm.com
belongs to everyone who actually reads it. When I use the
word "belong", I don't mean it in some silly materialistic
sense, i.e. "That grilled cheese sandwich belongs to
me." No, I mean it in an amorphous, pretentious sort
of way. The site is basically information and opinions, and
everyone has the right to access it with little or no strings
attached. And beyond that, they actually have a say in what
happens to it.
Which brings us to the whole
topic of this diatribe: what will happen to LoveHKFilm.com?
It can continue to exist in its present state, but I have
doubts that'll last. The reasons are numerous, among them
the fact that I must somehow earn a living and running this
site doesn't really do it. Nor would I expect it to.
There are larger concerns, though.
For one, what's going to happen to Hong Kong Cinema? Thankfully,
it still exists and probably always will, but it's definitely
not what it used to be. What was once a cinema defined by
its sheer audacity has given way to something that's so commercially
calculated that calling it Hollywood East would be an accurate
moniker. Back in the old days (which was about ten years ago),
films flooded the market, and returns were practically guaranteed.
Nowadays, the risks are greater,
the returns fewer, and the audience simply not there anymore.
This is true all over Asia, though the occasional Hong Kong
film (Shaolin Soccer anyone?) can still turn a profit
in multiple Asian territories. Theater attendance is way down,
and the Western hemisphere has probably two theaters left
which still show first-run HK films.
One such theater is the Four Star
in San Francisco, which occasionally risks it all with double
features of Inner Senses and Dry Wood Fierce Fire,
as well as the longer running hits like The Mission,
Needing You and Love on a Diet (yes, Johnnie
To is a one-man industry at the Four Star). However, the Four
Star can't get Shaolin Soccer (thank you Miramax),
The Accidental Spy (again, thank you Miramax), or anything
else which even remotely looks like box-office. The most recent
flick that looked like a winner was The Wesley's Mysterious
File...which was so awful that it was even bad by Wong
Jing standards. When that's the "best" you can get,
it's a wonder that people even show up at all.
Which is where the big worry
arrives: will anyone actually care about Hong Kong Cinema
in a few years? Does it even make a difference to keep up
this (newer) Hong Kong site when production is still dropping,
and Stephen Chow, Jackie Chan and Jet Li films are being replaced
by (shudder) Eason Chan, Daniel Wu and Stephen Fung movies?
And what about Hong Kong Cinema's
"unique" qualities? Hong Kong-style action is currently
better in American movies than it is in Hong Kong ones. Korean
films have a better handle on the previously inescapable existentialism
that permeated most HK flicks leading up to 1997. Strong female
characters? Uh...outside of Sammi Cheng and Miriam Yeung there
are hardly any non flower-vase roles left in Hong Kong films.
And even HK's once-dominant penchant for overdone emotions
has given way to glossy platitudes uttered by impossibly pretty
popstars. It's enough to make a person watch television for
So that leaves us with LoveHKFilm.com,
which is a website that I would like to see do more than just
exist with lots of text and pictures. I'd actually like to
see it expand and grow into something that will actually sustain
itself. How can that happen? I really have no idea, though
it's not money I'm speaking about. It's actually still pretty
cheap to run this site, that is if you don't count the DVD/VCD
review costs which sometimes make me ask what the hell I'm
doing. One day I'm going to look at my DVD library and see
titles like Color of Pain, Extreme Crisis, China
Strike Force, The Replacement Suspects, U-Man
and The Stewardess. Then I'll probably curse the Heavens
and Wong Jing for forsaking me.
But like I said it's not money
I'm talking about. It's something else: interest. What LoveHKFilm.com
needs is interest from whatever and whoever cares about Hong
Kong Cinema. That means writers, retailers, studios and most
important of all: readers. Has anyone been to AnimeOnDVD.com?
That's what interest can do (though comparing anime fandom
to HK Cinema fandom is like comparing the United States to
Guam. My apologies to Guam.).
do that? Can it take on its own life? Can the cinema rebound,
and attract old and new audiences? Can Daniel Wu limit himself
to three or fewer movies a year? Can the Webmaster stop asking
silly questions and just review more movies? Hopefully, the
answer to these questions is yes.
So in the coming weeks and months,
will add a couple of things. There'll be a PanAsia section
which covers films from across Asia. While adding other Asian
films to a Hong Kong site may seem like a concessionary move,
it may be the way to go. The Asian film industy is splintered
up into many, many smaller film markets, and crossover may
be necessary to sustain them all (Note to Takashi Sorimachi:
do another Johnnie To movie).
And a forum will definitely
occur before we're done, which will hopefully be later rather
than sooner. Or maybe we'll never be done, which is the best
possible solution for all involved. All involved means people
who - like the site name - love HK film. Even if it's directed,
produced or written by Wong Jing.
Beyond that we'll see. In the last
ten years, my personal interest has never truly waned despite
stiff competition from a variety of other hobbies. In some
ways this site has helped revitalize my love for HK Cinema,
and I sincerely hope that continues well into the future.
Right now I'm pretty tired,
though. - Kozo 6/26/2002