Golden Age of Hong Kong Cinema
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The Golden Age of Hong Kong Cinema, which occurred between 1981 and 1993, was marked by unprecedented artistic and commercial success in the Hong Kong film industry. There were several factors that led to this success including the strong foundation of technological and organizational development in the industry that preceded it. By 1979, the Hong Kong cinema had been freed from the confines of the studio sound stage and demonstrated identifiable improvements in production quality and marketing that matched international standards. By 1981, these advances, especially in terms of technical levels, production and organization, allowed the Hong Kong cinema to integrate itself into the commercial mainstream cinema.
The success of Hong Kong cinema could also be attributed to a “new wave” of directors, writers and actors during the 1980s and early 1990s who would gain not only local but also international attention. Although several film centers would emerge during the period, The Golden Age of Hong Kong Cinema was marked by the domination of a new production studio – Cinema City. Founded in 1980, Cinema City was one of the first film companies to apply an assembly style script technique to its productions, especially to big budget action and comedy productions that had strong appeal to the Hong Kong public.
With the support of emerging directors as well as special-effects hardware from the West, these film studios managed to rework the concept of the traditional kung-fu films that were popular in the preceding decade to include more dramatic and brilliant stunts and elaborate visual effects, a multifaceted undertaking that was accomplished through “a synergetic mixing of genre thematics, cinematic techniques and cultural hybridization”. Directors who dominated this genre of Hong Kong film-making during the period included Jackie Chan, Tsui Hark and John Woo who, with films such as Woo’s A Better Tomorrow (1987), The Killer (1989) and Harks Once Upon a Time in China (1991) appealing to new markets in Japan and South Korea as well as in Europe and the United States.