This is a follow-up post to this post:
I read through some of the reader comments and would like to comment further on the issue. I intended for the post to be about Asian films with gay themes for 2009 and did not intend to go through the entire rich history of Gay Asian Cinematic history..too big for me to deal with!!
However, a reader mentioned 'He's a Woman, She's a Man' which is one of my fav HK films and coincidentally it had a gay-affirming theme in it. Released in 1994 and a blockbuster hit, it was one of the earliest Chinese films to deal with homosexuality not only in a positive affirming way, but also in a light-hearted comedy. It stars Leslie Cheung (the film mirrors his own life at that time, he came out in 2001 i think saying he was a 'bisexual'. But i think he was really gay but its just easier to say you're bi...i mean the guy was with his boyfriend for over 10 yrs by that time!) and my all-time fav HK actress, Anita Yuen (love her!). A follow sequel came out in 1996 with Anita Mui in it too. Both full films with Eng subs available on youtube online:
He's a Woman, She's a Man (1994): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GWbY-keudJk
1996 Sequel: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5MFVM-27twg
The theme song and opening song sequences are so memorable for me...the movie theme song 追 by Leslie Cheung always brings tears to my eyes whenever I hear it as it reminds me of him after his suicide in 2003, and i always sing it in KTV as the lyrics are so meaningful...if you want me to translate the meaning into English I will. Just leave a comment.
Chinese cinema has always been ahead of Western cinema/American cinema when it came to the homosexual theme. Although Western cinema started earlier in exploring the issue, with British film 'Victim' in 1961 being a breakthrough for its usage of the word 'homosexual' and a sympathetic portrayal of gay men at a time when homosexuality was still a crime in Britain, Asia caught up and sped ahead by the 80s and 90s and are still ahead now. It took a Taiwanese director, Ang Lee, to make the independent hit 'Brokeback Mountain' and no Western mainstream hit has yet been made dealing with gay romance without someone dying or some kind of tragedy like that which has happened in 'Brokeback' and 'Philadelphia'. Almost all Hollywood films which do deal with it in a light-hearted comedy always inevitably shy away from gay romance and focus on the comedic side such as 'The Birdcage' and 'Next Best Thing'. However, i would say despite the shying away from gay romance in gay-themed mainstream hollywood films to date, there are still 2 Hollywood films which i love and which are classics to me. They are 1) In & Out by Kevin Kline 2) The Object of My Affection by Jennifer Aniston.
Trailers here, watch 'em if you can!:
The Object of My Affection: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c_lNnxTPB9A
But of course, our Chinese cinema have always been more daring and ahead of American cinema in frank and positive portrayals of gays and lesbians. For instance, besides 'The Wedding Banquet' waaaay back in 1993 which was a mainstream success with its onscreen kisses and bed scenes of the gay interracial couple, in 1997, Wong Kar Wai made 'Happy Together' with Leslie Cheung and Tony Leung, two of Hong Kong's most well-known actors then with a daring sex scene in the opening mins of the film. No top Hollywood actors have ever attempted such a scene even now in 2009, i mean it'd be like Brad Pitt and Tom Hanks in a raw gay sex scene bck in 1997. We Chinese did it, and I'm proud of that.:-）Then came 'Bishonen' in 1998 with two of HK's hottest new actors then, now very famous, being Daniel Wu and Stephen Fung. Then came 'Lan Yu' which was the first mainland Chinese-HK film to win multiple awards and mainstream success in 2001. Even anti-gay severely homophobic Singapore's govt allowed the production by Jackie Chan's production company of a gay-themed comedy set in Singapore in 2004 called 'Hainan Chicken Rice'.
Trailers for them here:
'The Wedding Banquet':http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d-4u3C7CJbI
'Hainan Chicken Rice':http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UYVrZ0FprWg&feature=related
There are many many more films which i've mentioned in previous post on gay cinema in Asia and so just check out my previous archives.
Two important last notes, remember I mentioned about 'Blue Gate Crossing' as one of my favourite Taiwanese film of ALL time before? The whole movie WITH eng subs is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfUufYr5XBA
Also bless the person whom uploaded the Discovery Channel program on Taiwan's LGBT movement in recent years just one day after it was broadcast:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w3L1AnNWj9s (Mandarin language)
Some recent Taiwanese Entertainment Programs with gay interest topics (read: either discussion of gay topics or invitation of gay men to choose their ideal idol !):
1) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eGS5UXJhKbY (new film promo by out gay director of Bishonen, Yon Fan, new film 'Prince of Tears')
2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-i-ErG_dapQ&feature=PlayList&p=800A9DEC7634FEA4&index=0 (i really like Guo Yan Jun in here..he's the first guy to take down the mask..he discusses his experiences with being chased by gay men, he's straight by the way i think)
3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFwYlEycPl8 (Guo Yan Jun in here, he's such a hunk! It's obvious that his good friend Lin Ke is gay..i can tell from what he's saying and also he's secretly in love with Guo..it's like SO obvious..those whom understand mandarin, have a look, it's obvious rite? Lin Ke obviously stole his worn underwear :-) )
Also, I just discovered a Malaysian tv drama "逆风18", it's so good! Rem my previous post on how good malaysian chinese dramas have become recent yrs? Well, this is another one, and its got a gay theme too! (wow! malaysia is becoming more n more open, i'm surprised the sponsors and management allowed the gay plot to be so central to the storyline). Set in Taiwan with a cast of malaysian chinese, thai, taiwanese ..it is a short 13 epi drama about a straight 18 yr old american-taiwanese whom returns for a summer vacation to Taipei after the death of his mom to visit his long-lost grandma. He meets and falls in love with a girl (taiwanese) whom in turn loves her childhood gay friend (malaysian) whom loves the straight guy...so it's a gay/straight love triangle about pure teen love and family relations, love it, love the song too with trailer here:
Last but not least, rem how i said i went to see the hugely fantastic Spanish film 'Chef's Special' at the Sydney Spanish Film Festival earlier this yr? Well, apparently, its a big hit and was shown in Taiwan and S.Korea as well..trailer here:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CIG3dXMuuuQ
Previous Post on Homosexuality in Asia: