hidden hero – the films of chang cheh

The Melbourne International Film Festival has just started, and amidst more good celluloid outside of your local 6 kuai DVD store is a Spotlight on Chang Cheh, director of The One-Armed Swordsman and The Heroic Ones.

“A master of our time. Grand in style and magnificent in presentation, his films leave the audience in exhatation. Chang Cheh not only taught me how to direct, but also the way of life” – John Woo.

And if you’re Mongkok instead of Melbourne, The Hong Kong Film Archive is screening Time and Tide – Changes in Hong Kong Cinema in the ’70s, which BC Magazine cover in their latest issue.

Say ‘seventies’ and ‘movies’ in the same breath and what springs to mind? Isaac Hayes, Tamara Dobson and Richard Roundtree kicking whitey’s ass with five-inch platforms whilst raising a finger ‘to tha man!’ all set to an incessant wacka wacka soundtrack? Think again – post-Vietnam Hollywood produced the likes of Serpico and All the President’s Men: films reflecting a public’s growing distrust with the establishment. In the UK, the once strong British film industry almost asphyxiated as a victim of the government’s mismanagement. In Hong Kong, things were happening too, as the territory’s filmmakers were recording it – and it wasn’t all Kung Fu fighting. The film retrospective Time and Tide – Changes in Hong Kong Cinema in the ’70s is both a great opportunity to see how the socio-political manoeuvres of the time shaped the movies and a rare chance to catch some awesome films (many not on home video) on the big screen.