When mainland China opened their markets to the world, the number of mainland and Hong Kong co-produced films multiplied. Most Chinese blockbusters are jointly produced with Hong Kong. The number of Hong Kong film companies partnering up with mainland Chinese companies are also in the rise. Will this continue to be the popular trend and is it possible to create Hong Kong and China collaborations that successfully appeal to both markets?
Hong Kong’s recent box office numbers, however, tell otherwise. While China-Hong Kong co-productions remain best-sellers in mainland China, Hong Kong local films such as Love in the Buff <志明與春嬌>, A Simple Life <桃姐>, Vulgaria <低俗喜劇>, and Cold War <寒戰>, were top earners at the Hong Kong box office in 2012.
Big-budget co-productions with mainland China, such as The Silent War <聽風者>, The Great Magician <大魔術師>, and The Lion Roars 2 <河東獅吼2>, embarrassingly underperformed at the Hong Kong box office. Analysts believe that the reason behind the failure of such co-productions is due to the increasing culture gap between mainland China and Hong Kong.
Hong Kong Flavor Returns in “Young and Dangerous: Reloaded”
Seeing a rising surge in popularity and support for local Hong Kong films, film producers Wong Jing (王晶) and Manfred Wong (文雋) seized this opportunity to ride the waves as well, starting off with a reboot of the nineties film classic, Young and Dangerous <古惑仔>.
The Young and Dangerous films are an adaptation of the Hong Kong comic book, Teddy Boy <古惑仔>. The comics’ main character Chan Ho Nam, the role that made Ekin Cheng (鄭伊健) famous, is now officially on the list as one of the greatest comic book characters of all time, and was placed in the Hong Kong Avenue of Comic Stars last year.
Manfred Wong said, “Between 2000 and 2012, we stopped producing sequels to the Young and Dangerous franchise because the market was changing. At the time, co-productions were the biggest thing, and the subject matter in Young and Dangerous was too controversial to be aired in mainland China. Last year, there were a few Hong Kong local films that did really well in the box office, such as Vulgaria and Lan Kwai Fong <喜愛夜蒲>. We now know that Hong Kong films are marketable again, which is why last year, Wong Jing and I decided to reboot our Young and Dangerous film series. There is a commercial reason to make this film.”
The upcoming 2013 reboot, which stars Him Law (羅仲謙) as Chan Ho Nam and Oscar Leung (梁烈唯) as Chicken, faced criticism for the lack of star power and talent in the cast. Wong Jing and Manfred Wong disagreed. “Young and Dangerous: Reloaded is a remake, not an exact copy,” said Wong Jing. “We are in a different era now. Actually, in the first few editions of Teddy Boy, the character design of Chan Ho Nam used Andy Lau (劉德華) as a blueprint. After Ekin Cheng made the role famous, the character was redesigned to look more like him. Ekin’s version of Chan Ho Nam is hesitant, while Him Law’s version is manlier and more unyielding.”
Him Law: “Young and Dangerous Attracts Attention”
Him Law was a huge fan of the original Young and Dangerous film series when he was in middle school. He mused, “At the time I really thought the gangsters in Young and Dangerous were powerful and cool. My classmates also really liked the films, and just hearing the words ‘Young and Dangerous’ would attract their attention.”
Him expressed that he had a lot of pressure for picking up the role after Ekin Cheng, and said that the role was also very challenging to portray. “Ho Nam is very loyal when it comes to love, so there are some limitations in the role. If I were to choose, I would choose Chicken. He stands up for justice.”
Philip Ng: “Like American Superheroes”
Philip Ng (伍允龍), who stars in Young and Dangerous: Reloaded as Big Head, is also the film’s action choreographer. He revealed that he first heard about the original film series in the late nineties when he was living in the United States. “There wasn’t much action in the original series. Although the reboot will still be mainly a drama film, there will be some action sequences.”
Philip expressed that when he first saw the original film in the United States, he immediately got the impression that the gangsters in the film were like superheroes. “The characters and story line of Young and Dangerous are as captivating as American superhero films and comics. My favorite character in the gang is Chicken.”
Jazz Lam is a Natural Gangster
Jazz Lam (林子善) portrays Chan Ho Nam’s follower, Pao Pei, a role previously portrayed by Jerry Lamb (林曉峰) in the original film series. Jazz’s short but brawny figure makes him a popular candidate when producers are casting for gangsters and deviant young adults. Jazz laughed, “Director Wong Jing told me that I’m just doing my old profession, so he said he won’t waste his time in directing me to the character.”
Young and Dangerous: Reloaded will open in Hong Kong theaters on January 10.
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