Featured Course: Asia 325 Hong Kong Cinema

Oliver version I FALLS

© Martin St-Amant, used under CC BY-SA 3.0.

Studying Hong Kong cinema allows students to understand the global reach of a major international industry and the local expression of Hong Kong identity through visual spectacle, story, style, stars, and sound.

Hong Kong’s unique and complex history and extraordinary dynamism are mirrored in the themes, images and speed central to this vibrant cinema.

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Winter 2017

ASIA325 Hong Kong Cinema Sections

A survey of the cinema of Hong Kong from the post-war period to the present. The influence of Hong Kong on global cinema, and the forces (artists, studios, audiences, etc.) that have given rise to filmmaking styles and genres perceived as "distinctively Hong Kong."

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Bruce Lee = Hong Kong. The first major mainstream global Asian action star. This photo is of the statue of movie star and Chinese martial artist Bruce Lee on the Avenue of Stars in Hong Kong. ©Johnson Lau, used under CC BY-SA 2.5.

Students will explore the varied ways in which Hong Kong’s complex hybrid identities, transnational linkages, and cultural fluidity are represented through film and examine Hong Kong cinema’s global influence and art.  This course will raise and give students the tools to handle the following questions or approaches:

  • What is Hong Kong Cinema?
  • What are the stages of Hong Kong Cinema?
  • How do you read Hong Kong film language(s) (or: the poetics of cinema)?
  • What are the genres and typologies of Hong Kong cinema?
  • What roles do directors, cinematographers, stars, studios, and audiences play in Hong Kong cinema?
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C.D. Alison Bailey introducing the HK film & TV star Mr. Yueh Hwa who came to talk to ASIA 325 last September.

In this course students will encounter operatic cross-dressing lovers, male & female martial artists, refugees, lonely ghosts and gay exiles, triad rivals and comic heroes.  Hong Kong cinema is multi-faceted: violence, nostalgia, fast and furious action, comedy, fantasy and hard-edged realism combine to create the unbounded creative energy for which the industry is famous.  Learning to unpack the filmic techniques, visual languages, and themes shaping these Hong Kong stories allows us to be better informed as audiences and more alert to the signs and wonders that make Hong Kong film so successful globally and locally.

Who will be teaching this course


C.D. Alison Bailey holds a BA, MA and a PhD in Chinese literature (modern and pre-modern), and has researched, taught and published on Chinese literature, language, culture, film, art and legal history. For the last nineteen years, she has been based at UBC’s Department of Asian Studies and the Institute of Asian Research, but taught at SOAS, London University, and Cornell prior to coming to UBC. She lived and worked in Beijing for nearly four years, and returns frequently for work-related trips.

She served as acting Director (2003-2004) and then Director of the Centre of Chinese Research (CCR) at UBC (2004-2011) and director of China Links: Professional Seminars at UBC (2010-2012) – a training program in Canada and China promoting engagement with North American business, government and NGO representatives.  Dr. Bailey is also an active Trustee on the Board of The Dr. Sun Yat-sen Classical Chinese Garden Society.