The 1980s revigorated Hong Kong cinema and led to a 'New Wave' of directors and films with new themes as well as more commercial films as ever...
The famous stars of this era were numerous and it was clear that those whom grew up overseas (ABCs) and Taiwanese female stars were very popular. This can be seen from the top female actresses of the time. Sally Yeh and Maggie Cheung were two very popular upcoming actresses of the 80s and both grew up overseas. Representing the fondness for Taiwanese beauties in the cinema industry would be Brigette Lin, Joey Wong, and Sylvia Chang. Other famous stars of the era included Maggie Cheung, Cherie Chung, Dodo Cheng, Rosamund Kwan, Chow Yun Fatt, George Lam, Tung Biew, and Lydia Shum.
The 80s saw many movies showing immigration to Western countries as this was the decade that Hong Kong families started immigrating in droves, with the British signing the treaty to return the whole of Hong Kong, including HK island, Kowloon Peninsula and the New Territories back to China in 1997. At the time, this was viewed with caution and fear, and Hong Kong's new found wealth meant anyone with the means of immigrating immigrated. This can be seen in the series of film called : It's a Mad,Mad, World starring Lydia Shum and Tung Piew as the middle-class Hong Kong family with three children living in a crowded government housing estate and how they always seem to strike the lotto and their experiences of winning the lotto. In the later series, it shows them immigrating to Canada and their life there. This movie was an extremely popular series as it also represented the Hong Kong spirit and aspiration of striking it rich in the wild heady days of the economically booming Hong Kong of the 80s.
Joey Wong is most famous for her role as 'Siu Qing' in 'A Chinese Ghost Story' opposite Leslie Cheung. Leslie Cheung was also another extremely famous singer/actor of the 80s. He was one of the reputed top trio of highest paid/most popular male singers of the 80s in HK, along with Danny Chan, and Tam Wing Lun. It was his character as 'Gor Gor' in this movie which earned him this affectionate nickname later on throughout his life.
Sylvia Chang and Sally Yeh acted in the seminally important 'Shanghai Blues' in 1984 which was Tsui Hark's breakthrough movie and has since remained one of his most famous and perfect movies. It also started the nostalgic trend of movies/entertainment revolving around 'old Shanghai'.
Dodo Cheng was also extremely popular during the 80s. She acted in mainly romantic-comedies-horror and many other films. Her series of film 'Heart to Heart' is particularly likeable (Rosamund Kwan was in the original movie and she is also one of 80/90s top female stars in HK, being extremely beautiful..she looks not quite Chinese, i think kinda mixed, she apparently has Manchurian blood in her.) and she is also very famous for 'Her Fatal Ways' as a mainland Chinese cop going down to Hong Kong and poking fun at the 'backward village-like' ways of mainland Chinese as compared to Hong Kong residents whom looked down on the mainlanders back then alot.
And of course, how could I end without mentioning the always funny Sandra Ng, whom I simply adore and love, she was the top female comedian in HK cinema spanning the entire late 80s to the mid-90s. All her works are particularly funny and at the top of her career, she had to film several films at once. Her career in the 80s reflected what was popular back then and the way the industry worked. For instance, in the 80s films and scripts were finished within a matter of weeks or even days and movies were produced at such a speed that actors like Sandra would have to film 3-4 films at once, 7 days a week, without rest completing 1 film per week sometimes! Despite the speed of the script-writing process as well as filming, i love the horror-comedy films of the 80s, they're just so incredibly good! Chinese horror films were also extremely popular in the 80s with Chinese vampires, spirits,etc mixed in with comedy most of the time, reflecting the still traditional beliefs of hong kong residents despite their material wealth and appearances.
Links: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tSYePNDJBE&feature=related (Shanghai blues 1984)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Go22F9j84U0 (Heart to Heart 1988)
http://www.youtube.com/user/hcpen#p/f/24/py5YOrWNU-Q (Heart into Heart 1989)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELvnymK6TkE (Her Fatal Ways)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUmbCg52N8U&feature=related (Movie with Sandra Ng)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNFTLMwAlgc (This is not a 1980s film but from 1992, misses the 80s by just a few yrs! I really like this ending clip dubbed into Taiwanese mandarin..gives a very nostalgic feeling for me of the 90s...from Sylvia Chang's 'Three Summers'.)
This is thus the final post of my 'Nostalgic Chinese Cinema Review Series'. :-)Hope you guys have learnt a thing or two on Chinese cinematic history..and do watch out for further posts on my blog theme for 2010: 'Year of China'!;-)