Right on! For my tri-state area people, this April 19-21 @ the Anthology Film Archives, the fine fellas behind, and in front of, the NYAFF are bringing Old School HK action back to the big screen. This weekend of kung-fu stylings is in memoriam for one of the NYAFF organizers, Daniel Anderson Craft, who passed away a few months ago, and someone I only got to know for a short while.
This is a be-there-or-be-square kinda weekend in NYC. Tell your significant other that you can't hang that weekend, call in sick to work, and drop the kids off at your in-laws. The kids need to see their Nan-Nan and Pop-Pop, whom you've been neglecting to visit because they are old and you don't have time for their nonsense. I'm going to be there, and if I can make it there (I already put in for a vacation day at work), so can you. And if I have yet to whet your appetite, then take a gander at the film line-up......RIGHT HERE!
Ahhh. When in HK, it is an absolute must to take a picture of the HK Island skyline. And that is what we did. Over and over and over and over again. Took video too. But a little before the above pic was captured, I had a date on Portland Street. It was our first full day in HK and late afternoon found my wife and I a little bit peckish. Hungry enough for something to nosh on but not so hungry as to chow down a huge meal. We were trying to save our appetite as we planned on a late dinner on Temple St., so, as we did the night before, we headed out to a street food spot on Portland St. The proprietors spoke Mandarin so it made it easy for my wife to order whatever entrails on a stick they were hawking. Our hotel was on Waterloo Rd., so we crossed over Nathan, heading west, and on towards Portland St. As we turned off of Waterloo and on to Portland.........HOLY SHIT! I think that was what I said? And out loud too. I grabbed my wife and pulled her aside exclaiming "HOLY SHIT!" once again. "Do you know who that is?!" Of course, she had no clue.
Portland Street Blues
Portland Street @ dusk. When the fun starts
It was Bruce Leung Siu-Lung!!! Can you believe it!? Right there. On Portland Street. Sitting with a few friends outside of an eatery. Now, this was a day or two before I saw Cheng Pei-Pei and I was just as much the hot, jello like, mess as I was with her. An odd sense of panic crept in. That awkward as heck star struck feeling. Short of wetting my pants, I contended with myself, and my wife, whether I should interrupt his day, while he was sitting and chatting with friends, and ask for an autograph or a picture? I won't go into the long and ridiculous (Ok. It was about 10 embarrassing minutes) time standing on the sidewalk and wrestling with myself as to approach or not. I had already met Bruce @ the NYAFF in 2010 when he was there with GALLANTS. But that was then and this was HK! So.......
My BFF and I in our younger days (2010)
I went for it. With a slight bow of the head and an, "Excuse me, sir. Are you Bruce Leung?" As if I didn't already know. Look at that punum. And look at those knuckles! He responded with a smile and a gracious and knowing nod 'yes'. "Would you mind if we took a picture?" "Oh. Yes." He stood shook my hand and posed for the above photo op, taken by my wife. Just before the photo was snapped he asked where I was from? I said that I was from New York and he exclaimed, "Ahhh." I further told him that I had met him once before at the NYAFF, to which he smiled and nodded yes. Like he knew what the heck this American dummy stalker was talking about. After the pic was snapped, another shake of the hand as I returned him to his table of 3 friends. An ear to ear smile from my wife and I, wild nods, and a handful of "do jeh's" to him and his smiley and giggly friends saw us part. Me, on cloud 9. My wife shaking her head as to what kind of creepy loser she married. And Bruce.....just glad he got out alive.
In an unbelievable stroke of luck, my 8 days in HK was a trip for the ages. And here is one case in point. Another one or two are to follow in later posts. But, lets start with this one. My HK itinerary was chock full of places to go and people to see, and surely on my dance card was a quick stop at the Hong Kong Film Archive.
We were stationed in Yau Ma Tei for our stay and usually tried to hit the pavement or MTR early for a full day of visiting. Out early one morning for a trip and a full day to HK Island, our first stop was the HKFA in Sai Wan Ho. It's a touch out of the way so we figured we would hit it first and then work our way back towards Central. There was a King Hu retrospective going on at the Archives but unfortunately, there was no film showing on the day of our visit. I at least wanted to go and check the joint out and to pick up a film book or two. And that's exactly what I did.
The Archives is just a short walk from the Sai Wan Ho MTR stop. Maybe a
few blocks. Lucky for us (again, luck!) that the weather was amazing
for the entire length of our stay. It was a nice walk. Upon entering,
the Archive wasn't anything special. My wife and I were the only ones there, aside from the security guard. To be fair, it was only a few minutes after opening and on a weekday. A bunch of film flyers were
available to take, and I took. All of them. One room on the first
level housed an art instillation that wasn't film related but actually the artwork of King Hu himself! (Thanks YTSL) So, after perusing the masters artwork, we made our way to the elevators to head up to the second
floor where the King Hu film exhibit was stationed. As the elevator doors
opened, my wife and I stood aside to let the handful of people exit.
And as I smiled and slightly bowed my head at the exiting passengers, I
did the double takes of all double takes. Well, at least it was the
double takes of all double takes since the previous double take of all
double takes I had a few days earlier. We'll get to that one in a
My legs instantly turned to wet noodles and my heart skipped several beats. In a heat flash, I wasn't married anymore. Instantly knowing that I knew who she was, a lovely ear to ear smile spread across her face as she slightly bowed her head, as I had done. She, and her party, exited the elevator and walked on as my wife and I entered, and pressed the button for the second floor. The doors closed and I shit my pants. Clutching the walls and my wife's arm, I said, "Do you know who that was? Oh my god! Holy shit!" My wife is mostly clueless in the ways of HK cinema and, of course, had not the slightest clue. "That was Cheng Pei-Pei!"
We got off of the elevator, my legs still gelatin. We looked around the King Hu exhibit for maybe 5 seconds, none of it registering. My wife, getting a kick out of me being a blubbering mess, coerced me back downstairs to try and get a picture or an autograph. Back downstairs, swimming in sweat, we discovered Pei-Pei and her party looking at the art instillation. Not wanting to bother her, we milled around the lobby like two sketchy dummies for about 15 minutes until she emerged. I know that Pei-Pei can speak English, but I'm a wuss and asked my wife if she could ask her, in Mandarin, for a picture. I'm more than a wuss. A starstruck puss*. Pei-Pei entered the lobby and my wife approached and kindly asked if she would take a picture with me. She was more than happy to oblige this losers request, as you can see by the above pic. That smile!!!! Love was in the air. I was too nervous to talk to her or gush at how I'm such a big fan. After the picture, I slightly bowed my head again, said thank you, and got the heck out of there. Puss*.
I left the Archives floating on HK's polluted air. I had stepped in shit with this chance meeting. Was it luck? Was it meant to be? And Ms. Cheng was the 2nd actor I 'bumped' into on the trip. Luck, man. I tell ya. Oh. And I bought the two above books at the Archive. Did I forget to mention that?
My HK/Asian cinema books. They are usually never stored away for too long and always available to thumb through if need be. I think I may have misplaced a few throughout the years through house moves or just neglect. And a few might still be stored away as my HK movie collection is still in disarray since the big move last summer. But, here they are. In all of their good, bad, and ugly HK film info/mis-info glory.
My two absolute favorite books on HK cinema, SEX AND ZEN & A BULLET IN THE HEAD and HOLLYWOOD EAST. Both by Steffan Hammond. The absolute COOLEST books around.
Bottom right is my first book on HK cinema and my most dogged. It is also considered one of the worst because of a s**t-ton of misinformation. That being said, the mis-info makes it that much more fun to read through. Ladies and germs, I give you, Thomas Weisser's ASIAN CULT CINEMA.
Upper left is one of the HK film review book bibles. The must own, John Charles' HONG KONGFILMOGRAPHY: 1977-1997. You can find the updated publication HERE. Also, bottom right, is the picture laden DEADLY CHINA DOLLS, of Eastern Heroes fame, which runs the gamut with loving info on lady kung-fu stars to filthy CAT III starlets.
I have a few books that I am currently eyeing. Just waiting for some moolah to free up. Are there any books that I'm missing? What should I add to my library?
Hong Kong Cinema is like sex and pizza. Even when it's bad, it's still pretty good.
I have had a love affair with Hong Kong Cinema for over 17 years now. I have accumulated over 3,000 HK films and many other HK film related items throughout those 17 years. With this blog, I am hoping to share my collection with other HK cinema fans. With my writing, I am trying to keep things light,fun,and tongue in cheek in hopes that my love affair with HK cinema continues and remains as fresh as the days I first fell in love with it. Thank you for stopping by and I hope you enjoy!