Hollywood East: Hong Kong Movies and the People Who Made Them

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Press: Contemporary Books (January 1, 2000)
Author Name:Stefan Hammond


The visually striking, lightning-fast action movies of Hong Kong used to be a favorite only of cult film enthusiasts -- these days, however, stars such as Sammo Hung, Jet Li, and Jackie Chan are household names. 
This book offers an inside look at the explosive Hong Kong film industry, its skyrocketing popularity, and its sometimes controversial relationship with Hollywood.


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Comment List (Total:9)

  •     A wonderful follow-up to Hammond's first foray into Hong Kong cinema, Sex and Zen & Bullet in the Head, Hollywood East is a more detailed account of Hong Kong cinema today. The book has a forward by Michelle Yeoh. The book is organized in the following manner: 1) an overview of Hong Kong, the city, where to purchase movies and memorabilia, where to see movies, and a funny aside of the top ten Hong Kong imagined dangers followed up by the top ten real dangers. Hammond seeks to dispel the mythical Hong Kong as porrtrayed by film and present briefly the real Hong Kong where millions reside. 2) An intro to the astounding work of Johnny To and Milky Way Productions. For those in the know, it will be a fun review and to the uninitiated, Hammond provides a starting point of these must see films 3) a similar overview for Wong Kar Wai 4) an overview of cop/triad films 5) an overview of martial arts films including an extensive review of Shaw Brother's filmography - a must read for Shaw Brothers junkies! 6) the Hong Kong horror genre 7) Jackie Chan and his films 8) sexy chick flicks and girls with guns 9) Jet Li and his films 10) John Woo and his films 11) crazy stunts and the stories behind them 12) extreme cinema, shock cinema for example: the Untold Story 13) other resources including web listings Also included are very funny inserts called "Hex Errors" that have outrageously translated subtitles for each section and a glossary of terminology. There is also a 16 page color insert of mini biographies of up and coming stars including: Michelle Yeoh, Shu Qi, Karen Mok, Michael Wong, Aaron Kwok, Pinky Cheung, Aimen Wong, Athena Chu, Christy Chung, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Kelly Chen, Gigi Lai, Sam Lee, Wu Chien-Lien, Michelle Reis and Gigi Leung. One does wonder how Yeoh fits in this category though. The book is fun, easy to read and factfilled for repeated reading. A must for all Hong Kong cinema buffs!
  •     Although not as wide-ranging (and eye-opening?) as "the essential guide to Hong Kong's mind-bending films" that was this author and Mike Wilkins' earlier book, "Hollywood East" is still pretty enjoyable and informative reading. For this HK moviephile, Michelle Yeoh's all too short Foreword, Stefan Hammond's own Introduction and the opening "In Situ" (which contains THE guide should a HK movie buff ever go pay a visit to the former Crown Colony) and "The Unexpected" (about movies made by Milkyway Productions, the current top film company in the HKSAR) chapters alone are worth the price paid for the entire tome. Hammond's words about Hong Kong cinema rings true about his books: I.e., that they allow one "to delve into an alternative cinematic universe, to discover and savor a richness unsuspected" and "provide conversion experiences" (2000:xiii). Message to publishers and book-sellers: I can hardly wait for his next work.
  •     The is Stefan Hammond's follow-up four years later to his co-written with Mike Wilkins "Sex and Zen & A Bullet in the Head." While that book is dated and has an overuse of plot description and spoilers this one is an improvement in content and has previously eschewed scholastic concepts like he mentions in the Introduction about the chapters on John Woo and Jackie Chan: "... providing more analysis and insight" though it still focuses mostly on films from the 1990s. While scholarly analysis has taken over much of the Hong Kong discussion in book form these days it is fun to go back a decade and read an unabashed fan's writing as well as a collection of essays from sundry authors. Like in the first book I tend to prefer the contributed chapters and essays over the author's writing.A foreword by Michelle Yeoh almost makes this a must buy, but like Jackie Chan in the first book it is too short. The rest of the book is a mixture of topics ranging from Hong Kong itself, capsule oriented genre chapters, auteur and actor centered sections and sundry topics related to Hong Kong cinema.The first chapter's In Situ which is Hammond's has a mixture of topics in its description of Hong Kong as a cinematic city. I am sure that the places to buy VCDs and DVDs are outdated, but they do serve as an interesting description of a point in time. The aside essays "Ten Imaginary Hong Kong Dangers" and "Ten Real Hong Kong Dangers" are my favorite parts for the first chapter. While his last chapter specifically deals with Access of films with many out-of-date Internet links.There are several chapters written by Stefan that are capsule review oriented and are reminiscent of the first book. They will have some interesting information but ultimately not contain enough for experienced Hong Kong fans. There is the prescient chapter The Unexpected which goes over some of the oeuvre of Milkyway Image Production the company of one of my favorite directors Johnnie To Kei-fung and scriptwriter/director Wai Ka-fai. There is another chapter Cops and Rascals which goes over police and triad related topics and several films. Then there are chapters Dodge That Flying Witch's Head, Bad Eggs and Naked Killers, and Hewn and Scattered which goes over various exploitative, Category III, and notorious fare that Hammond has quite a fondness for.The auteur and actor centered chapters are Creative Chaos: The Disorganized World of Wong Kar-wai written by Jeremy Hansen, The Chan Canon (of course on Jackie) by Hammond and various authors, Between the Bullets: The Spiritual Cinema of John Woo by Michael Bliss and The Afterburner (on Jet Li) by Wade Major. These are good primer essays on those individuals but are now dated because each has done much more since 2000 (and many full length books have been published on the above as well).But wait there is more. My favorite chapter is Aiyah! That had to Hurt by Jude Poyer which is a poignant essay on Hong Kong stunts and stunt performers. Jude is a member of the Hong Kong Stuntmen's Association and British Actors' Equity. Also, there are the fan favorite "hex errors" throughout the book where he describes more of his favorite mangling of English subtitles present in Hong Kong film. There is also a 16 page color insert with a popular actor with a picture, a terse biography and a selected filmography in the middle of the book and a way too short glossary at the end. Throw in an underdeveloped chapter on Kung Fu and you have an entertaining book that is a bit slight.I recommend this book to those who are newer to Hong Kong cinema as well as those fans that are looking for fun fan-centered writing over a dryer dialectical approach and those that "make a hill out of mold."Stefan has not written any more books since this one. I wonder what he has learned about Hong Kong films since then. I wonder if his newer writings would be more analytical. He is currently (as of 2011) an editor of Computerworld Hong Kong.
  •     Imagine if Hunter Thompson, Siskel & Ebert, and Rosanne combined to critique a Dali picture, and you'd get a pretty good idea of what to expect.
  •     This book provides fresh angles and insightful commentary on a much-talked about subject. He manages to stay away from most of the cliches associated with this subject matter and...
  •     If the films of Jackie Chan and Jet Li have just gotten you interested in Hong Kong cinema, then this is an excellent book to read to learn more about the HK film industry and...
  •     Stefan Hammond's latest book expands on his last one. This book covers everything you want to know about HK film.
  •     Stefan Hammond provides a very timely update on the current Hong Kong cinema scene with his latest gonzo effort, which ranges from a superb chapter on Jackie Chan to some decidely offbeat themes such as "Bad Eggs and Naked Killers" and "Dodge that Flying Witch's Head." The photographs are wonderful, the sidebars such as "Seven Little Stunt Nuggets" provide an inside look at the industry, and his writing style perfectly fits the zany, expressionistic world of H.K. cinema. I'm no expert in the subject, but I found the book fascinating, informative, and highly opinionated, though my only question is: "Who's the babe-in-blue-with-gun on the front cover?"
  •     Stefan has written an excellent book on the much misunderstood world of HK cinema. This is a cleverly written train of thought book on all aspects of the industry. It is imformative enough for the true HK buffs and easy for the uninitiated to understand.

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