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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (March 23, 1999)
U.S. cinema devalues art, especially from abroad
CLIFF HICKS is a senior
news-editorial and English
major and the Daily
Nebraskan opinion editor.
All the talk about America being
a great “melting pot” always fades
from my view each time I go to the
movies. I saw “The Corrupter” last
weekend and enjoyed watching Chow
Yun-Fat in a less than stellar film,
and it was with a bit of resentment
that I realized the film industry is
giving a lot of people the shaft.
To understand where all this
begins, you have to realize I have a
fascination with Hong Kong cinema.
Great directors like Ringo Lam,
Wong Jing, Wong Kar-Wai, Tsui
Hark and Wai Ka Fai are virtual
unknowns here (the only exception is
John Woo, who really broke main
stream with his third U.S. film,
“Face/Off”) and they’ve made some
of the best films I’ve seen over the
last few years.
Many of the directors have tried
here, but it seems like every Hong
Kong director who wants to try his or
her hand in Hollywood has to direct a
tfVUU-V'lUUUV T Uli JL/CUlUltv X 1U11. 11 O
kind of like the penalty that’s
required. John Woo did “Hard
Target” and stuck around to do better;
Ringo Lam did “Maximum Risk”
and went back to Hong Kong to make
more (and better) films there; Tsui
Hark’s even done two, “Double
Team” and “Knock Off,” and whether
or not he’ll get back to
making good films here
or elsewhere is any
Let’s get back
to Woo for a sec
ond. When he
make a major
film. Ever. ^
thinking, it was
just an oversight.
then. How about actors?
Name the first leading
actor of Asian descent.
I’ll give you a clue - he’s a
martial arts legend.
So, after Bruce Lee,
who was next?
Chan. See a pattern forming? Finally,
legendary actor Chow Yun-Fat was
brought over, and people thought,
okay, maybe the times they are a
changin’. Then again ... maybe not.
I need to set a few things straight
before I continue my ranting and rav
ing. I’ve seen more than a dozen
films from Hong Kong starring
Chow Yun-Fat, and I can honestly say
that every bit of praise I throw onto
the man just isn’t enough. He’s
played gangster and cop, gambler
king and convict slummer, and in all
of them he’s done admirably.
But Chow Yun-Fat wasn’t brought
over for his intense performance in
Ringo Lam’s gritty crime-drama
“Full Contact,” nor his chameleonic
turn in Wong Jing’s “God of
Gamblers” as gambling king turned
idiot savant and back, nor his comic
wit in Woo’s caper comedy “Once a
ne was orougni over Decause
people in Hollywood thought he
would be a good action star.
While it is true that many of
Chow Yun-Fat’s best-known perfor
mances have him shooting an insane
ly large amount of people with a gun
in each hand, I can assure you he is
! capable of so very, very much more
than the bones he’s been thrown.
He’s capable of anything he can
get his hands on. His next role is
reported to be the King of Siam,
which I’m sure he’ll pull off
admirably. After that, rumors indicate
he will once again pair up with John
Woo to do a film called “King’s
Much to the surprise of many,
“King’s Ransom” will be an action
comedy-heist film in the vein of
“Once a Thief,” and I couldn’t be
happier about it. “Once a Thief” is
my favorite of Woo’s films (although
“Hard Boiled” comes in an incredi
bly close second) and I think it will
be a nice break for Woo, who is
Meanwhile, the other Hong Kong
directors who have come over have
either gone back or gotten stuck
doing Van Damme film after Van
Damme film. Nothing against the
guy, but it just ain’t art, y’know?
It all comes down to the money
vs. art argument that’s been rehashed
a few thousand times. For the record,
I think art and entertainment are
often two separate things and just
because something is one doesn’t
mean it has to be the other.
If you were to ask the studio
heads why they don’t lure more of the
A-list Hong Kong actors and direc
tors to big projects, they’d cite a cou
ple of reasons that would most likely
be wrong or just plain weak.
The first and most common is
that “people don’t identify with
them.” Executives will pull out piles
of demographics and research to sup
port them, but in the end, a lot of
those numbers just prove what we
already know - Hollywood hasn’t
given mem a cnance.
Another is the language barrier
that those coming over from Hong
Kong face, but this, in time, can be
overcome. In Yun-Fat’s first U.S.
film, “The Replacement Killers,” his
English wasn’t great. In “The
Corrupter,” it has gotten much better
and so has his performance. This
problem can be overcome.
Like the big merger with all the
music companies, all the little art
films are continuing to be crushed in
the name of big business.
Good films, good music, it’s all
going away all too fast.
We need a new revolution. We
need 100 directors making a few
thousand-dollar films wife fee inten
sity of “Pi.” We need actors from all
walks of life, from fee streets of
Hong Kong, fee reservations of
America and more. We need our rev
So consider this a challenge to
everyone in fee movie industry - we
want better, smarter, more challeng
ing films. We’ll support them. And if
we don’t, fee hell wife us.
No film should ever be made by
f’.S. Write Hack
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