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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hong Kong Action Heroes


When I first saw the movie "Police Story" starring Jackie Chan as a kid I was first introduced to a double-decker bus which got me excited at the possibility of seeing one in the streets of Manila. Years gone by and no 'double-decker' bus still plies the streets of Manila but my taste for Hong Kong action films has evolved since then. Soon I was renting VHS tapes of other Jackie Chan movies, especially the ones with Samo Hung and Yuen Biao and I discovered pioneering action directors such as John Woo (pre-Hollywood days), Tsui Hark and Ringo Lam and pretty soon I was looking at the world in slow motion, with doves flying in the background and imagining gunfights happening as if it was a ballet performance.

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Chow Yun Fat's turn as a turn as a cool yet deadly assassin in John Woo's "The Killer" homered that argument that Hong Kong's action films and its action heroes have really defined my generation's obsession with testosterone, violent yet with a deep story kind of action movies. It wasn't the typical Hollywood actioneer wherein it's  all bang-bang without a heart. The Police Story series, Woo's "the Killers", Tsui Hark's "The Once Upon a Time" series and Ringo Lam's "City on Fire" led the way for this unusual movement in the history of Asian cinema, which eventually reached and influenced filmmakers across the globe, namely Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez.

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Of course, any discussion about Hong Kong action films won't be complete without mentioning the name of the late great Bruce Lee. "The Big Boss", "Way of the Dragon" and "Fist of Fury" were ultimate classics and even after his untimely (and mysterious) passing a collection of footage shot before his death culminated into "Game of Death" all became part of the legend of Bruce Lee.

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So for me, going to Hong Kong wasn't only about taking it off the list of places I wanted to visit but also to pay homage to these action stars who have become part of my childhood and even up to now, I still await for the old Jackie Chan to appear. Meaning, for him to go back to his roots and stop doing silly Hollywood action movies, for John Woo to do the same.

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 The Avenue of Stars located at the Victoria Harbour near the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station in Hong Kong and modeled after Hollywood Walk of Fame (fyi: we also have a similar kind, the German Moreno brainchild at Eastwood city hehe). Showcases and honors celebrities of the Hong Kong cinema. The main attraction of the place was the bronze sculpture of the man himself, the late great Bruce Lee.

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It was cloudy and raining a bit when I went there early in the morning after I arrived in Hong Kong. I was about to meet Eileen, a new friend of mine who was also there with her family but when I called their hotel she was in the bathroom so I took a leisure walk, a walk which would take me the whole morning because I was entertained by scenery I saw around the harbor.

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From the opposite side of the harbor you could see the towering rows of skyscrapers at Central, Hong Kong  and I'm pretty sure you wont miss the Bank of China building and second tallest in Hong Kong, the 2 International Finance Building. I walked a little further and saw other nearby buildings such as the Museum of Art, Space Museum, Clock Tower and the Cultural Centre. 

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I watched the ongoing dragon boat festival for a short while by watching a couple of races while waiting for the rain to stop. Afterward I walked again and checked the stars on the 'walk of fame' and found familiar names such as Wong Kar Wai, Michelle Yeoh and Maggie Cheung. After that I hopped to the MTR again and has forgotten to call back the hotel where Eileen was staying and my hunger which was earlier screaming for a massive amount of dimsum and Chinese fried rice was also completely forgotten and I instead went to the other island to check out up close the iconic towers of Bank of China and the HSBC buildings.

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After my daytrip to Macau I went back to Victoria Harbour to witness the light show and the cityscape during the night and true to what I've been hearing, the sight was such a visual feast. Too bad I never bought a tripod with me so I had to rely on my shaky hands to capture a decent enough photograph of the Hong Kong skyline. It was more impressive when lighted up and its beams reaching the dark sky which reflects the beams back through the silent and slow moving waters of the bay. I tried to make my way in between the crowd to get proper position but it was futile as scores of people are already lined up at the front but that does not diminished the over all experience.

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So, there it was - after all these years of seeing Hong Kong as only a backdrop to a Jackie Chan movie I've finally seen it with my own eyes. Plus I was able to pay my tribute to my all time favorite Hong Kong action heroes. Memories of Jackie Chan hanging at the roof of a double decker bus, Samo Hung moving gracefully even with his heavy weight kicking ass of four to five guys and Chow Yun Fat blasting bad-ass villains in super slow motion with bullets flying in the air while accompanied by the John Woo trademark of doves flying in the background. Now, I have an actual memory of Hong Kong to go along with those awesome action movies.

11 comments:

Sun Yen said...

I grew up watching and idolising these action heroes as well. It was still on betamax, not VHS. Samo Hong and Jackie Chan never failed to crack me up while Bruce Lee is indeed the master of them all. Sigh, those were the days...

Markyramone said...

@Claire (tricked me with the Sun Yen pseudonym lol) - Samo Hung and Jackie Chan the perfect tandem, better than Jackie Chan - Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan - Owen Wilson...di ko na naabutan betamax eh :P.

Pinay Travel Junkie said...

Uhm, I wasn't able to see Bruce Lee in HK. Boo.

Markyramone said...

@Gay - di ko ren sya nakita statwa lng nya hehe. Balik kayo dun sama nyo Luna pag mga 3 yrs old na sya sa Disneyland.

Ramona Andresa said...

I love Jackie Chan! There was a time when my father and elder brothers would play only Jackie's movies on the betamax (waw betamax talaga antagal na!lol)I became a fan of too! In my trip to HK last year, I wasn't able to totally explore the city because I was with my family and got busy in amusement parks instead. But I didn't miss the symphony of the lights. Buti ka pa nga ok yung kuha mo kahit walang tripod e yung amin blurred lahat.haha.

Andresa :)

Markyramone said...

@Andresa - next time pagbalik ko dun try ko naman Ocean park and Disneyland...pero okay yun pag may batang kasama. Try to go around riding the MTR next time.

Ed said...

big fan of jackie chan. plus the one with the three kids - forgot the title of the movie but the kids had different specialties: the one with nunchucks, the other a whip, and the last was just fat.

Markyramone said...

@Ed, i remember that one, forgot the title too, another one was where he and Samo Hung played as brothers may halong drama haha

Grace said...

I've always been a martial arts fan myself. Used to watch a lot of it when I was young because of my dad and brother. I love Bruce Lee and that statue is dope! I had the opportunity to visit his grave in Seattle.

Markyramone said...

@Grace that was super dope, I would love to visit Bruce Lee and Jim Morrison's grave someday.

Dylan said...

Pareho pala tayo. I grew up watching HK action films mostly with Jackie Chan in a starring role. Probably having the same last name with him got me curious about his movies.

I'll soon see these backdrops this October.
Thanks for sharing your photos! It looks great even without a tripod.

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