What connects a regular movie goer, an enthusiast of Chinese culture and a traveller? They all can find their passion in Chinese cinema. The long thriving Chinese film industry is not only a source of magical and thought-provoking productions, but it also enables a viewer to ‘travel’ through China, its history and legends. If you still haven’t booked your tour with China Tours – but also if you already know at which  Beijing Hotel you’re staying – immerse yourself in the world of Chinese cinema and explore more about China and its culture!

 

With movies of all genres, everyone will find something of personal interest in Chinese cinema. First of all, let me introduce you to the so-called Fifth Generation of Chinese filmmakers. 1980s and 1990s marked the beginning of the popularisation of Chinese productions (mainly Beijing-based) among international viewers. The most renowned titles of that era include ‘Raise the Red Lanterns’ (1991), ‘The Story of Qiu Ju’ (1992) and ‘Shanghai Triad’ (1995) by Zhang Yimou, as well as ‘Farewell My Concubine’ (1993) by Chen Kaige. ‘The Story of Qiu Ju’ and ‘Farewell My Concubine’ were awarded the Golden Lion and the Golden Palm respectively. The most prominent actress of that era was Gong Li, becoming one of the most recognizable Chinese in the West.

 

Since mid-1990s a new Sixth Generation took the lead in Chinese cinema. In contrast with diverse style and interests of the previous generation, movies made since the beginning of that era till present are more focused on issues concerning Chinese society. A new genre called wuxia, depicting the adventures of martial artists, was derived from literature.  Production of that era have been widely promoted in the West, with such titles as Ang Lee’s ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon’ (2000, coproduction); Zhang Yimou’s ‘Not One Less’ (1999), ‘Hero’ (2002), ‘The House of Flying Daggers’ (2004) and ‘Curse of the Golden Flower’ (2006); Chen Kaige’s  ‘The Emperor and The Assassin’ (1998), ‘Together’ (2002) and ‘The Promise’ (2005); Feng Xiaogang’s ‘The Banquet’ (2006) and Zhang Yuan’s ‘Beijing Bastards’ (1993) – one of the first independent Chinese films. Sixth generation produced such actors of international fame as Jet Li and Zhang Ziyi.

Along with Beijing, Hong Kong is the main Chinese filmmaking hub. The name of the director Wong Kar-wai is familiar to every passionate film-goer in the world. The popularisation of Hong Kong cinema in 1980s and 1990s is attributed to kung-fu films starring Jet Li and world-famous Jackie Chan movies. Cantonese productions differ significantly from Mandarin ones in terms of style and topics. Balancing on the edges of the mainstream, they are more provocative, mysterious and violent. The must-see HK movies include Jackie Chan’s ‘Drunken Master’ (1978); John Woo’s ‘A Better Tomorrow’ (1986); Wong Kar-wai’s ‘Days of Being Wild’ (1990), ‘Chungking Express’ (1994) and ‘2046’ (2004). The biggest starts of his movies are Maggie Cheung, Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung Chiu-Wai.

I highly recommend you to watch at least a few of these movies. And once you’ve seen Beijing, Shanghai and Canton in the films, turn to China Travel for travel advice and tours.

 

Jack Li
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