HK director Wong Jing returns to comfort zone with new gangster film

HK director Wong Jing returns to comfort zone with new gangster film
Wong Jing, filmmaker, speaks of Hong Kong gangster movies.
PHOTO: China Daily/Asia News Network

Wong Jing is a prominent figure in Hong Kong cinema. He has directed, penned and produced more than 100 films.

But in recent years, he has been in the news mostly for directing mainland productions such as the hit franchise The Man from Macao.

With Color of the Game, a thriller set to open across China on Friday, Wong will again be seen in his familiar zone of making films about gangsters in Hong Kong. The latest in the Color series has elements typical of such films: brotherhood, slums and street fights. The earlier films are Color of the Truth (2003) and Color of Loyalty (2005).

Starring Simon Yam and Jordan Chan, the Hong Kong actors known for their roles in gangster classics, Color of the Game is about a gang whose members get trapped in a conspiracy, pushing them to desperation.

The protagonists wear white clothes in the film, which Wong calls a "tribute to the cinematic art of violent aesthetics" created by Chang Cheh, a late master of Hong Kong cinema.

"I was fascinated with Cheh's movies when I was young. Most of his martial arts heroes wear white robes on screen, making it a sort of a symbol of top fighters," Wong, 62, said at a Beijing preview last week.

Wong is the movie's main producer.

Color of the Game is the latest gangster movie produced by Wong Jing.Photo: China Daily/Asia News Network

In one of the film's funny scenes, a hooligan played by veteran Hong Kong actor Suet Lam is seen continuously eating rice to dodge questions from those whom he has betrayed.

"He fears answering the questions. If he opens his mouth to speak, it may get him and his family killed," Wong says.

The film is also a survival tale of people on the city's edges, not just a simple cat-and-mouse game between police and criminals, Wong says.

Hong Kong gangster movies helped establish a few actors in Hollywood once and inspired such films in the United States, but the genre has seen a decline over the past decade.

"It is a part of world cinema. I have faith that such movies with Hong Kong flavor won't vanish from the big screen," Wong says.

The film's characters speak Cantonese but it has been dubbed in Mandarin for the mainland market.

At a time when the Hong Kong film industry is facing a shortage of performers, directors and scriptwriters, Wong says he will focus on training new talent.

"I will reduce my directoral work on account of health, but help youngsters realise their dreams in cinema," he says.

And, Color of the Game does just that. While Wong has produced the film, he has helped younger filmmaker Kam Ka-wai direct it.

But the film will likely face some competition in the mainland market.

Thanks to the rapidly expanding industry, mainland filmmakers have shown growing interest in producing crime movies. Guilty of Mind, which is about a psychologist and a cop working together to hunt a serial killer, will also be released in September.

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