Hong Kong cinema got a much-needed shot of exuberance and enthusiasm in 2022 after a bleak state at the height of the pandemic. The effects of restrictions haunted the industry at least until the start of 2022, when movie theaters such as Cinema City had to downsize, a trend that continued from 2021 following the closure of some branches of UA Cinema and Broadway Circuit, two of the city’s biggest players in the movie circuit. In 2020, box office receipts took a massive dive, decreasing by as much as 72 percent as compared to 2019. In 2022, however, local films experienced rejuvenating reception, with Variety reporting that local flicks earned $43.2 million in the box office, a jump from 2021’s $31.2 million. This year, seven films and one series are expected to inject another energy of vigor and interest for what Hong Kong’s filmmakers has to offer, not only for local cinephiles, but also for audiences worldwide. Here are eight projects to watch out for from Hong Kong’s filmmakers in 2023.
Goldfinger This marks the reunion of the team behind the gritty classic Infernal Affairs – actors Tony Leung, Andy Lau and acclaimed screenwriter Felix Chong, who would take on the role of director this time around. Goldfinger is based on the rise and fall of the Carrian Group, a conglomerate esconsed in a fraud controversy in the 1980s that more than turned out to be deadly following the killing of an official from Malaysia’s Bank Bumiputra and the death of one of the conglomerate’s legal advisers.
Produced by Johnnie To and directed by Soi Cheang, the film delves on mystic and murder, intertwining the fates of a fortune-teller and a killer. The protagonists are played by celebrated actor Lam Ka Tung and Lokman Yeung, also the leader of Hong Kong’s famous boyband Mirror. It was selected as a Berlinale Special Program selection at the upcoming festival edition.
Where the Wind Blows
The film, helmed and written by Philip Yung, was released in 2022, but would also be shown in this year’s International Film Festival Rotterdam. The crime thriller’s visual panache showcases an otherwise filthy culture of corruption in the police force when it was still under British rule. Starring Tony Leung and Aaron Kwok, the movie puts a spotlight on real-life police chiefs Lui Lok and Nam Kong, who, despite starting in the police force with the best of intentions, saw themselves being lured and ensnared in perfidy and duplicity in the 1960s. Nicholas Bell interviewed filmmaker during award season.
Martial artist extraordinaire Donnie Yen (known for Ip Man and would also be seen in John Wick 4) did not only star in this wuxia offering, he also directed and produced it. The film is based on Louis Cha’s novel Demi Gods and Semi-Devils, which has been adapted for both the small and big screen before. Yen, who will play Qiao Feng, one of the three protagonists in the book, promises to explore the story with his own unique take and approach, however.
A Guilty Conscience
Dayo Wong, who was also one of those who topped last year’s heartwarming comedy hit Table For Six, now makes a dramatic turn, pun intended, for this courtroom drama. Wong plays a barrister who gets to have the chance to correct a mistake which sent an innocent woman behind bars for 17 years. He is up against powerful forces and also a skillful prosecutor, however, making his quest for rectification and redemption more than tricky and difficult. Wai-Lun Ng directs.
Everything Under Control
The movie, which stars top actors Ivana Wong and Hins Cheung, is also set to be shown in UK and the US, as reported by Variety . It’s Hong Kong’s take on the 2004 Korean horror-comedy To Catch A Virgin Ghost which also had its Taiwanese adaptation “Treat or Trick.” The movie tells the story of two security guards who meet a ghost as they scour a remote village for stolen diamonds. Ying Chi-Wen directs.
Actress Sammi Cheng got rave reviews for her performance as a woman who takes in foster children after losing her son. Her decision to do so has consequences on her marriage, however. The closing film of the 19th Hong Kong Asian Film Festival last year is expected to be shown this March. Directed by Ka Sing Fung, the project got support from the First Feature Film Initiative of the Hong Kong Film Development Council.
The first directorial effort from auteur Wong Kar-Wai since 2013, the series has been described as the third part of “In the Mood for Love” and “2046.” Set in Shanghai, it tells the story of Mr. Bao, a millionaire who began his journey with a not-so-ideal background before eventually attaining a stature of importance in the city and the women he loved. Next question when does the film come out?
Purple Romero is a freelance journalist based in Hong Kong. She writes about gender issues, subcultures, films, among others. She has written for Asian Movie Pulse, High On Films and UK-based publications Little White Lies and The New Voice.