Fear and Loathing in Hong Kong: the Freer Screens Classic Foreign Films

Another warm Washington DC summer, another Made in Hong Kong Film Festival, the Freer Gallery’s 13th annual celebration of Hong Kong

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Another warm Washington DC summer, another Made in Hong Kong Film Festival.

The Freer Gallery’s 13th annual celebration of Hong Kong includes Exodus, a satirical thriller, and Shaolin Soccer, a farce about – you might not infer this from the name – a martial arts master who battles the dark side with the aid of a team of soccer-playing monks.

I dropped by the festival to see As Tears Go By, a gang drama hopped up on eighties pop and familial piety. The heroes – who also happen to be villains – are a pair of gang "brothers." The older one has been through fire and back, the younger one can’t stay out of trouble. The younger one, hard up for cash, starts a feud with another gang member. The older one keeps bailing out his kid bro. Jaw-snapping violence and unexpected humor ensue. If nothing else, the story proves that while money and violence have their own charisma, in the end the "family" is all about love.

Old school fans will especially like the romantic interlude set to a Cantonese rendition of "Take My Breath Away." (Click here to see it on YouTube.) The 1988 film, not unlike Coppola’s The Godfather and Scorsese’s The Departed, features ambiguous heroes getting their tragic but well-deserved due. Director Wong Kar-wai is a Hong Kong cult favorite, and this film is one big reason.

What are some of your favorite gang movies? Let us know in the comments area.

The festival continues this Friday at 7 pm and Sunday at 2 pm with Triangle, a comedy by three different directors about a robbery that doesn’t go as planned.

Scene from "Triangle," above. Image courtesy of the Freer Gallery of Art.

About Anika Gupta
Anika Gupta

Anika Gupta’s writing has appeared in India and the United States, including in Business Today magazine, where she served as its first digital content editor, the Hindustan Times newspaper and Smithsonian magazine. Currently, she is a Master's student at MIT, where she studies user-generated content and mainstream media culture. She's also a science writer, media blogger, and essayist.

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