Director Woo leads HK pack to Hollywood

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 January, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 January, 1998, 12:00am

The Year of the Ox will probably go down as 'The year nothing much happened' in the Hong Kong entertainment world.

Billed as the entertainment hub of Asia and the world's third biggest exporter of films, Hong Kong had a miserable year on home ground.

The concerts that never happened included, of course and once again, Michael Jackson, and the great no-show concert by Elton John because the Urban Council remained true to its usual retentive self over the Hong Kong Stadium even for the handover celebrations.

Best local show of the handover - and mainly only by default because of the dismal line-up of 'variety shows' elsewhere - was probably the private performance for the Chinese officials featuring Faye Wong and Sandy Lam Yik-lin.

In the end, music fans only had the Suede concert in March to look back on with any sort of relish. At least rave fans had the Unity Party (and almost weekly rave sessions) with Boy George, Gene and Grace Jones to keep them in ecstasy.

On the film front, it was the same old story as film- makers rehashed more tales glamorising young triad members and released a spate of low-budget horror vignettes compiled into several movies.

Little wonder then that it was the American blockbusters that pulled in the crowds.

Probably the reason nothing much happened in Hong Kong was because Hong Kong was happening elsewhere.

The year will also be remembered as 'The year that Hong Kong finally arrived in Hollywood'.

After trying for several years, Hong Kong action director John Woo re-found his magic formula with Face/Off, giving Americans and the world an express introduction to his work.

Woo's 'start' opened the way for other Hong Kong film-makers and actors. In his wake, Ringo Lam Ling-tung made Maximum Risk, Tsui Hark completed Double Impact, Ronny Yu Yan-tai directed Warriors of Virtue and Stanley Tong Kwai-lai, Mr Magoo.

Director Kirk Wong is in the middle of filming The Big Hit, while Peter Chan Ho-sun (Comrades, Almost A Love Story ) has just started work on Susie And Hercules for Universal Pictures.

Granted, some have achieved higher success than others. Action movies have made enough money to guarantee more work for directors such as Lam and Tsui but Tong, who directed Jackie Chan's Supercop, took a risk with comedy, Mr Magoo, which opened to lukewarm reviews last month.

Yu's Warriors of Virtue also died a death.

On the acting front, Chow Yun-fat made his Hollywood debut in The Replacement Killers, although it will only be released this month.

Action star Michelle Yeoh, also scored a stellar hit in the new Bond movie, Tomorrow Never Dies, which has opened to rave reviews for her in the US and Europe.

Eclectic director Wong Kar-wai capped off the good year for Hong Kong directors by being the first Chinese to win the director's prize at the Cannes Film Festival.