Kung fu movies made in Hong Kong turned the city into one of the globe’s major centers for movies. As artistic freedom in neighboring countries was limited, the success of cinema in Hong Kong and the local film industry was further promoted by the influx of filmmakers from China and Taiwan.
Despite a decline in the 1990s, Hong Kong is still among the world’s major movie production centers. And it’s by no means all about kung fu: recent movies from Hong Kong range from romance to comedy and arthouse.
The foundation of success for cinema in Hong Kong was laid in the 1940s, when many filmmakers from China fled to Hong Kong and the city became the home for free-market movies in the region.
As martial arts films became popular, Hong Kong began exporting them to other Asian countries. Then, in the 1970s, cinema in Hong Kong became famous around the world, with such Bruce Lee films as The Big Boss or Way of the Dragon.
The martial arts tradition was continued by Jet Li and Jackie Chan, who produced some of the huge box office hits in the following decades. Cinema in Hong Kong began to be followed by movie buffs all over the world.
Crisis struck in the 1990s, and again in 2003, when an outbreak of SARS kept practically every cinema in Hong Kong empty. Recently, though, the city’s film industry produced successful mainstream thrillers such as the Internal Affairs trilogy (the basis for Martin Scorsese’s Oscar-winning remake The Departed).
For a hands-on introduction to cinema in Hong Kong, pay a visit to the Hong Kong Film Archive in Sai Wan Ho. The archive has guided tours and special film shows.
You will be spoilt for choice if you go to the cinema in Hong Kong, with its main theater chains all showing major blockbusters: AMC Cinemas, Broadway Circuit, MCL Cinemas and United Artists Cinemas (UA). Broadway Circuit is the largest chain, and owns the Broadway Cinematheque, which features internationally acclaimed art-house films as well as a café, bookstore and CD/DVD store.
Films are available in the cinema in Hong Kong in three different forms: in the original, dubbed into Cantonese, or in Chinese with English subtitles. To find out which movies are currently playing, simply check the websites or one of the local newspapers – English papers have cinema listings, too. Special prices can be found on Tuesdays in most of the large cinemas.
You can also find a number of small, independent cinemas, which often show locally produced films. However, most of these films are produced for the Chinese market, and rarely have English subtitles.
Cinema in Hong Kong has an excellent reputation, so it is unsurprising that it has its own film festivals and awards. The Hong Kong International Film Festival Society is a non-profit organization which promotes Chinese and Asian films both in Hong Kong and worldwide. Among other activities, the society organizes the Festival and the Asian Film Awards.
The Hong Kong International Film Festival takes place every year in March or April. It is advertised as Hong Kong’s largest cultural event, with around 300 titles from over 50 countries in 17 days. The majority of the screenings are dedicated to Chinese or other Asian film, including many gala premieres where you have the opportunity to meet directors and casts before the show.
The Asian Film Awards were introduced in 2007 to honor filmmakers in the area of Asian cinema, and cinema in Hong Kong. An international jury of film directors and other movie professionals select the winner from a choice of eligible films.
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