ANALYSIS



HOLLYWOOD’S IMPRESSION OF HONG KONG



In Prof. Gina Marchetti’s work on the imagination of Asia in Hollywood movies, she picks sexuality as the window in pointing out Hollywood’s Yellow Peril fantasy. This project hopes to continue the investigation on Hollywood depiction on Asia, especially in Hong Kong. Critiquing Love Is A Many-Splendored Thing (1955) and The World of Suzie Wong (1960) , Marchetti describes, “The Hong Kong of these films is Hollywood’s Hong Kong, constructed out of the American imagination and decidedly unlike even Hong Kong film industry’s vision of its own city” (110) It would be interesting to examine if this notion stays true today. The following paragraph attempts to points out the origin of Hollywood’s impressions and the reason behind of Hollywood picking Hong Kong as blockbusters scene location in recent years.



1.


VICTORIA HARBOUR AND THE LEGACY OF FISHING VILLAGE


Across all the selected movies partially or entirely shot in Hong Kong, there is a clear attachment to the history and impression of Hong Kong. The oriental fishing village, rickshaw pulling on the street and the famous airport where planes flying over rooftops. These are the remaining spectacle of Hollywood directors seeing Hong Kong till today. The famous Victoria Harbour must appear in the movie in order create authenticity to the Hong Kong on Hollywood screen, so as to remind audiences about Hong Kong was a fishing village before.

Example: Transformers: Age of Extinction, Pacific Rim, Johnny English Reborn, The Dark Knight, Die Another Day



2.

CULTURAL INSPIRATION FROM KOWLOON WALL CITY

Most movies depict Hong Kong as a populated city, is taking the impression from Kowloon Wall City. The ungoverned settlement area out of Chinese and British jurisdiction, where more than 50,000 people lived in 2.6 hectare border until its demolishment in 1994. To recreate the dense populated Kowloon Walled City, many movies are shot in Quarry Bay, Tu Kwa Wan and Shum Shui Po, districts with densely distributed buildings in the resemblance of the populated scenes.

Example: Transformers: Age of Extinction, Push, Johnny English Reborn



3. 

WARM BED FOR CRIME AND GANGSTERS

Even as an international city with low crime rate, Hong Kong on screen is filled with crime and gangsters. Because of the populated setting, movie protagonist often hide in the district, or looking for some characters living in these areas. Therefore, crime will happen in order to drive the plot. There will alway be chasing scenes in busy district like Wan Chai and Mong Kok, which characters are chasing or being chased. Crime is also an obvious attachment to the local triads and crime movies.

Example: Transformers: Age of Extinction, Pacific Rim, Contagion, Push, The Dark Knight



4.

UNALTERABLE PORTRAYAL OF THE RISE OF CHINA

Mission Impossible, 007 James Bond, Tomb Raider, Indiana Jones, all these franchises have sequels that have shot in China after 2000s, illustrating the presence of a rising power. Among selected films shot in Hong Kong, one of the constant elements is the presence of Chinese bureaucracy, both in local and mainland government. Some depict Chinese officials as corrupted, while other praise and see China as an equal political power. One of the main reason of such depiction is for the sake of pleasing the authority in China. As Gary Susman writes, “It’s routine for Hollywood to alter the content of its overseas prints to placate China” (Rollingstone.com), but in order to be one of the 34 movies foreign movies permitted to import each year, Hollywood is leaning toward Chinese authority, compromising edits and productions in Chinese delight. Studios are more than happy to create movies that would please the authority, but hesitate investing in movies that will expose Chinese government’s taboo like human rights condition, tibet and government corruptions.

5.

VISION ON HONG KONG’S FUTURE: COSMOPOLITANISM

One of the films deserves to be mentioned is Guillermo del Toro’s Pacific Rim (2013). The high-stylistic director reimagines Hong Kong as a strategically important coastal city in defending giant monster. During class one of the most referred topic is how Hong Kong become the verge between east meet west, different nationalities and races and values meet in a city. Pacific Rim makes a good example, taken place in this city we are talking about and adopting multicultural actors in significant role.


While one side of the peninsular is a military base, which men and women with different colors and nationalities gather in saving the mankind, across the harbour is a mix between high-rise buildings and large but busy market where you can find anything. The essence of our vibrant city with neon lights is captured and glorified in the vision that different cultures and races live together peacefully and create a better future. If to choose one of the movies as the best depiction of Hong Kong, Pacific Rim would be the choice.