... but the action movie is on the way out

The Hong Kong action movie is all but dead because of a lack of homegrown talent and the decline in the city's film industry.

That's the verdict of international action star Donnie Yen Ji-dan, who pronounced the grim prognosis at the Cannes Film Festival yesterday while promoting his latest film, Dragon Tiger Gate.

Yen said the growing mainland market had an abundant supply of young talent who were receiving martial arts training, but it had been a long time since Hong Kong, the birthplace of the martial arts movie, had produced a good action movie.

'For a long time we led the trend. But look at the recent Hong Kong action films, there has been no improvement at all. No one could name a significant action film we have made in the recent few years,' said Yen.

With the rise of Bruce Lee and an industry that produced nearly 300 movies a year, young stars in the past, like Jet Li and himself, had the opportunity to show off their talents and lead the trend, he said.

'But we will grow old one day. Young Hongkongers do not bother to practise kung fu. Even if they do, or I open a class teaching martial arts, there's still no such environment for them to rise into stardom because of the low tide of the industry,' he said.


'And because there isn't enough work in Hong Kong, many have to get work overseas. I hope the emergence of the mainland market could help form a great force for Chinese language films, but then the essence of Hong Kong action films will be long gone.'

Also in Cannes yesterday, director Feng Xiaogang and actresses Zhang Ziyi and Zhou Xun faced the international press to promote The Banquet, a drama billed as a Chinese take on Shakespeare's Hamlet.

When a journalist asked if their film would face censorship problems like Summer Palace because of nudity, the panel refused to answer, saying it was irrelevant.

Summer Palace is the only Asian entry in the race for the Palme d'Or, but it is competing without approval from the mainland government. Mainland journalists have been ordered not to report on anything about it.


Winners of the competition will be announced on May 28. Hong Kong films Re-cycle and Election 2 will be screened later this week.