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Bond, JANE Bond: Hong Kong Action Women of the 1960s

Bond, JANE Bond: Hong Kong Action Women of the 1960s

23 July–1 August, 2010

A uniquely Hong Kong film genre, the Jane Bond films are a delicious blend of spy flicks, jewel-thief films, martial arts movies, youth films, detective pictures and comic books. Emerging in the late 1960s and highly popular, they feature young women in adventures full of cartoon-style action, intrigue and men-kicking fights. The genre drew on precedents in Shanghai cinema of the 1940s, while also demonstrating the influence of the ‘007’ craze on Hong Kong popular culture, as well as famous heist films such as Rififi (1955).

Program and film notes by Sam Ho, Hong Kong Film Archive. The generous assistance of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office is gratefully acknowledged.

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TALK
Program curator Sam Ho from the Hong Kong Film Archive will discuss this Hong Kong genre and Jane Bond’s licence to kick men.
Sun 25 Jul 12.00pm / Cinema A

The Story of Wong Ang the Heroine 1960 Ages 15+

The Story of Wong Ang the Heroine 1960 Ages 15+

Fri 23 Jul 7.30pm / Cinema A

DIGITAL BETACAM, BLACK AND WHITE, MONO, 84 MINUTES, HONG KONG, CANTONESE (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: YAM PANG-NIN

The pulp fiction series ‘Oriole, The Flying Heroine’, which originated in Shanghai in the 1940’s and remained popular in Hong Kong in the 1960’s, was a major influence on the Jane Bond films, its titled heroine a precursor of the quick-witted, fast-fisted, and good-hearted Jane. The Story of Wong Ang the Heroine, adapted from the series before Hollywood’s James Bond tidal wave, provides an interesting study on the impact of the 007 craze on Hong Kong popular culture.

Lady Bond 1966 Ages 15+

Lady Bond 1966 Ages 15+

DIGITAL BETACAM, BLACK AND WHITE, STEREO, 102  MINUTES, HONG KONG, CANTONESE (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: MOK HONG-SEE

Another highly popular entry of the genre, featuring choreographed action staged in the name of fighting social injustice. The film stars the youth sensation Connie Chan Po-chu, the most beloved Jane Bond of them all.

Please note: Lady Bond will no longer screen in this program. Screening in its place will be The Precious Mirror aka The Maiden Thief. The Precious Mirror will screen agin at it’s original time Sat 31 July 1pm.

The Black Rose 1965 Ages 15+

The Black Rose 1965 Ages 15+

Sat 24 Jul 1.00pm and Sat 31 Jul 3.00pm / Cinema A

BETACAM SP, BLACK AND WHITE, STEREO, 94 MINUTES, HONG KONG, CANTONESE (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: CHOR YUEN

Directed by Chor Yuen, this film features a pair of sisters active in high society who steal from the rich to give to the poor. The film enjoyed great popularity and spawned scores of imitators, likely giving rise to the genre.

The Dark Heroine Muk Lan-fa 1966 Ages 15+

The Dark Heroine Muk Lan-fa 1966 Ages 15+

Sat 24 Jul 3.00pm / Cinema A

DIGITAL BETACAM, BLACK AND WHITE, STEREO, 105 MINUTES, HONG KONG, CANTONESE (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: LAW CHI

The title character is based on a popular series of pulp fiction written by martial arts novelist and scriptwriter Yi Kwan, who wrote most of Chor Yuen’s mart arts films.  Full of comic-book action and men-kicking fights.

Spy with My Face 1966 Ages 15+

Spy with My Face 1966 Ages 15+

Sun 25 Jul 1.00pm / Cinema A

DIGITAL BETACAM, BLACK AND WHITE & COLOUR, STEREO, 102 MINUTES, HONG KONG, CANTONESE (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: CHOR YUEN

This sequel to Black Rose further sets the Jane Bond genre on its course. Director Chor Yuen, emboldened by the success of the original, takes the Bond influence up a notch. The arch villain is not just a crooked businessman, but the head of a powerful crime syndicate, lording over an army of thugs while headquartering in a secret hideout equipped with an endless array of high/low-tech devices. Connie Chan Po-chu, with her embodiment of both the fairy Jade Girl and the fierce fighting woman, eclipses Nam Hung as the film’s true star, establishing herself as the Jane Bond prototype.

The Golden Buddha 1966 Ages 15+

The Golden Buddha 1966 Ages 15+

Sun 25 Jul 3.30pm / Cinema A

DIGITAL BETACAM, COLOUR, STEREO, 102 MINUTES, HONG KONG, MANDARIN (CHINESE AND ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: LO WEI

The Golden Buddha is a prime example of Shaw Brothers’ action offensive in the mid-1960’s, with generous production budgets that allowed for explosive action sequences and locations filming in Thailand to add a touch of international exoticism. Bond influence is evident in every turn, but the film’s unbridled machismo differs greatly from the women-centred sensibilities of Spy with My Face, which was released in the same year on the Cantonese front.

The Precious Mirror aka The Maiden Thief 1967 Ages 15+

The Precious Mirror aka The Maiden Thief 1967 Ages 15+

Fri 23 Jul 9.00pm and Sat 31 Jul 1.00pm / Cinema A

DIGITAL BETACAM, BLACK AND WHITE, STEREO, 94 MINUTES, HONG KONG, CANTONESE (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: CHOR YUEN

A prime example of Jane Bond as jewel thief.  Josephine Shiao, together with Connie Chan the biggest stars of late 1960s Cantonese cinema, plays the heir of a family of master thieves and gets herself involved in plenty of roof-hopping action and intriguing mind games.

The Mysterious Sisters aka Two Sisters Who Steal 1969 Ages 15+

The Mysterious Sisters aka Two Sisters Who Steal 1969 Ages 15+

Sun 1 Aug 3.00pm / Cinema A

16MM, COLOUR, STEREO, 97 MINUTES, HONG KONG, CANTONESE (ENGLISH SUBTITLES) / DIRECTOR: NG WUI

As the Jane Bond films evolved, the genre became less Bond-like, cutting down on the staging of fights and the flaunting of secret weapons. The heroine remained an action figure, complete with quick wits and agile process, but the stories increasingly took on the jewel thief plot.The Mysterious Sisters is especially noteworthy as director Ng Wui includes long stretches of action that unfold without dialogue, taking inspiration from the classic French crime film Rififi 1955.

Temptress of a Thousand Faces 1969 Ages 15+

Temptress of a Thousand Faces 1969 Ages 15+

Sun 1 Aug 1.30pm / Cinema A

DIGITAL BETACAM, COLOUR, STEREO, 77 MINUTES, HONG KONG, MANDARIN (CHINESE AND ENGLISH SUBTITLES), DIRECTOR: CHUNG CHANG-HWA

The Mandarin cinema’s action offensive in the mid-1960’s successfully captured the fancy of male audience and its spy flicks are more male-orientated than their Cantonese counterparts. The Jane Bond figure of Temptress of a Thousand Faces is a cop with all the requisite trimmings, yet she is regularly paraded in situations that highlight actress Tina Chin Fei’s sexuality, the most obvious of which is when she has to climb down the side of a 17 storey high-rise, wearing a revealing miniskirt.

92 the Legendary la Rose Noire 1992 Ages 15+

92 the Legendary la Rose Noire 1992 Ages 15+

Fri 30 Jul 6.00pm / Cinema A

35MM, COLOUR, STEREO, 95 MINUTES, HONG KONG, CANTONESE (CHINESE AND ENGLISH SUBTITLES), DIRECTOR/SCRIPT: JEFF LAU

92 the Legendary la Rose Noire is not only a surprise hit when it was released in 1992 but also a phenomenon that defined its time. The film’s irreverent drama and director Jeff Lau’s genius in taking audience imagination through time and space captured the spirit of early 1990’s Hong Kong and then colony’s awkward awareness of its own history. And the way the film invests its dramatic capital on and draws mythical power from the character Black Rose is an illustration of how much the Jane Bond figure embodies the unique qualities that make Hong Kong what it was and what it is.