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Hong Kong Film and Cultural Identity

Infernal Affairs/無間道 (Andrew Lau & Alan Mak, 2002)

MDST3504 – Fall 2021
W 4:00-6:30 PM

Ongoing tensions between the Chinese government and citizens of Hong Kong SAR (Special Administrative Region) have foregrounded the extent to which Hong Kong culture is both ‘Chinese’ in a broad sense and has its own historical trajectory and flavor. This is reflected nowhere so much as in Hong Kong films, whose evolving styles, genres, and stars have engendered a distinctly local cultural form.

This course will be both an introduction to and overview of the history of Hong Kong cinema, as well as an exploration into how film and media both reflect and contribute to cultural identity in Hong Kong. 

Throughout the semester, we’ll be watching a wide variety of Hong Kong movies, including the hard-to-find Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain (Tsui Hark, 1983) and My Life as McDull (Toe Yuen, 2001), as well as classics like Come Drink With Me (King Hu, 1966) and A Better Tomorrow (John Woo, 1986). We’ll put these and other films in historical and cultural context, watching clips from related films in order to better understand what Hong Kong cinema means to and reflects about the people of Hong Kong. We’ll also discuss how Hong Kong films have influenced movies and industries globally, from Bollywood to Hollywood, as well as their influence on media from Mainland China.

My Life as McDull/麥兜故事 (Toe Yuen, 2001)
Come Drink with Me/大醉俠 (King Hu, 1966)
Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain/新蜀山劍俠 (Tsui Hark, 1983)
A Better Tomorrow/英雄本色 (John Woo, 1986)
Ten Years/十年 (Omnibus, 2015)


Reading and film screenings will be conducted primarily through Collab; there is no textbook to purchase for this course.

As all films are subtitled in English, no knowledge of Chinese (Cantonese/Mandarin) is needed to take this course. 

The Untamed/陈情令 (Chan Ka Lam, 2019)