We’ve all railed at the fact that Hollywood produces, well, good agricultural material, while HK often (not always, but often) produces true gems of cinematic genius. Here’s why…
- Recipes for a film run along the following lines.
HK: Throw in whatever’s fresh in the market that day. Cook fast, serve hot, and end up with something fresh, spicy, and interesting.
Hollywood: Take a successful recipe and remove everything but the cabbage. Add extra lard, cook for 18 months, and serve with laser effects and a rap soundtrack. Wonder why it’s not a screaming success.
- Wu Yen. Mulan. I confess I was tempted to stop here, since this is compelling enough, but you deserve more…
- In Hollywood, Stephen Chiau Sing Chi films would be 5 hours long, to allow each joke to be followed by compulsory explanation and canned laughter.
- Action heroes: HK has the likes of Jet Li, Michelle Yeoh, Jackie Chan, Zhao Wen Zhao, Dick Wei, etc etc etc, who are all, we must agree, eminently credible in action. Hollywood specialises in action heroes who are drawn from the ranks of those who oil up and pose for a living. I’m not even mentioning those who try to edit the script so as to give themselves more lines…
- Semi-action heroes. In HK, just about everyone does an astonishing amount of stuntage, just as part of being an actor. From the exceptionally tasty Andy Lau casually astride a killer whale, to the delicately lovely Nina Li Chi being chased up a tree by a pack of komodo dragons, just about everyone in HK has done something that we would probably consider insanely dangerous. Without stuntmen. Without quibbling. Probably not without fear, but they did it nonetheless.
- If HK were Hollywood, all actresses would be forced to have cosmetic surgery to look like J-Lo, while all men would be forced to have surgery to look like Michael Wong.
- Treatment of Michelle Yeoh:
Hollywood put MY into a leather bodysuit and high heels and made her get beaten by a twit in a suit who’d probably lose a fight with my cats.
HK let her wear boys’ clothes and made her thrash some townsfolk, some bandits, her fiance, and the bandit leader. This, of course, resulted in her fiance being overcome by boyish ardour, while the bandits called her "Mother", and promised to give up their life of crime and become model citizens.
- In Hollywood, Francis Ng would spend his entire life playing Ugly Kwan, and would end up making guest appearances on TV sitcoms.
- If Ashes of Time had been made in Hollywood, characters would spend all their time gossiping. Phrases like "We need to talk about our relationship" and "It’s her or me" would occur frequently. Much lunching would be done.
- In Hollywood, Wong Kar Wai would never have gotten his hands on Takeshi Kaneshiro. Instead, poor Takeshi would be forced into making an inane teen comedy every summer and going into rehab every winter. At 45, he’d get religion and his own talk show.
- Martial arts. In HK, they know how to do it, how to stage it, and how to film it. In Hollywood, they use cheap tricks that a six-year-old in a playground would be ashamed of, then use fast cutting to pretend that they haven’t.
- Women’s shoes (okay, sounds weird, but bear with me for a moment).
In the HK corner, we have Cynthia Khan in jeans and sneakers. Michelle Yeoh, in some fetching conoction of leather and flats (shoes, for those of you who aren’t familiar with shoe lingo). Anita Mui and Maggie, ditto. Cynthia Rothrock double ditto. Most HK female action characters dress for the occasion.
Meanwhile, in the other corner, Hollywood tries to convince us that women can be credible action heroes in spike heels. Now I’m sorry, but that just makes me laugh mightily. And I can just hear you scoffing "Oh, yes, another feminist weirdo". Well, my concern here is not with looks, but with practicality. As long as their garb (including shoes) doesn’t trip them up, slow them down, or constrict their movement, they could be wearing body paint and angel’s wings for all I care.
I challenge anyone to run down a flight of stairs and engage in close-quarters fighting wearing high heels: if you can do it, send me footage and I’ll send a heartfelt apology. If you can’t, don’t expect me to pay your medical bills.
- In Bride With White Hair (hey, what’s an Alison list without a mention of this one?), Brigitte whips Leslie and his entire clan, looks gorgeous, and leaves with style. Find me a Hollywood film where the heroine gets to beat up the hero’s family, without being made to suffer for it.
- The Viewing Experience.
Hollywood: 15 minutes after the movies starts, you know exactly what’s going to happen.
HK: 15 minutes after the movie ends, you’re still amazed at what just happened.