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Lexic : G
Type of films initiated by Wong Jing which present ace gamblers (cards, dice, mah-jong…). The most famous one was played by Chow Yun Fat in God Of Gamblers.
Film sub-type specific to Hong Kong cinema that cash in on the Chinese people's acknowledged craze for gambling by presenting ace card, dice or Mah-jong players. Of an eminently heterogeneous and fluid sort, some would even say 'post-modern' because it borrows from many other genres such as the gangster film, the burlesque and even Kung-fu, the 'Gambling Movie' lends itself wonderfully well to the parody too. Although Hong Kong cinema had produced films focused on gambling and gamblers much before, one could say that the first genuine 'Gambling Movie' was King Gambler in 1976, directed by Cheng Kang (father of the master Action Choreographer Tony Ching Siu Tung) who introduced the style, themes and archetypal characters of the genre to come. It seems that Chang was himself inspired by the series of eye-catching and saucy films by Li Han Hsiang (Cheat To Cheat, Illicit Desire, etc.), some of which showed swindlers.
The 'Gambling Movie' really took off several years later, in the early 80s, with Notorious Eight (81), Challenge Of The Masters (81) and Winner Takes All (82). Wong Jing wrote the script of the first one and directed the two others. Wong Jing is often regarded as the initiator of the 'Gambling Movie', which is not totally true, but more than whoever he was the one who knew how to promote and enrich this genre. He will constantly go back to it throughout his life often showing its most idiosyncratic variations.
A type which, as the name indicates, mingles both ghosts (and other vampires) and Kung-fu. Apart from the ghost, its key characters are the Fat-si (that is to say an exorcizer Taoist priest), his impish and blundering disciple as well as the Gyonshi (walking corpse), the variety of ghouls which dominates the genre. The spirits boxing is also a recurring element of the 'Ghost Kung-fu Comedy' which takes its basis, on the one hand, in the rich Chinese supernatural folklore and, on the other hand, in Peking Opera from which it derives both acrobatic fights and burlesque comedy.
Spiritual Boxer and Spiritual Boxer 2 by Lau Kar Leung (Liu Chia Liang) were the precursory films establishing the main comic, thematic or narrative frames as well as the archetypal characters. However, Sammo Hung and Wu Ma were the ones who, as actors, directors and producers, in the early 80s knew how to make the 'Ghost Kung-fu Comedy' become a real genre with Encounters Of The Spooky Kind (80), The Dead And The Deadly (83) and especially Mr Vampire (85). That film's significant success establishe the genre but also its main actor LLam Ching Ying in the great role of a Chinese exorcizer which was going to hound him until he died. Leading genre during the second half of the 80s the 'Ghost Kung-fu Comedy' made the fortune of the Bo Ho Films Company Ltd. It fell off in the film industry in the 90s but easily adapted itself to television.
Like the Battling Babes, the 'girls with guns' form a special type in HK cinema. Notably inspired by Luc Besson's La Femme Nikita (who himself took his inspiration from Hongkongese productions), those 'girls with guns' are the logical following to the martial arts experts. With the advent of frenzied thrillers in the late 80s, it was natural to see women take up the torch. One of the first actresses to handle a gun is Jade Leung in the HK remake of the aforesaid La femme Nikita: Black Cat. Then former battling girls such as Moon Lee (The "Angels" series), Cynthia Rothrock and Sibelle Hu. Besides, series like In The Line Of Duty or Angels have even reconciled martial arts and firearms.
Two series mixed up due to the English translation of the films' titles which compose them: the 'God of Gamblers' series (three episodes: God Of Gamblers, God Of Gamblers' Return and God Of Gamblers 3 : The Early Stage) and the 'Knight of Gamblers' or 'Saint of Gamblers' series (two episodes: God Of Gamblers 2 - in fact " Knight of Gamblers " and God Of Gamblers 3 : Back To Shanghaii – in fact " Knight of Gamblers II "). That's why, in the end, there are two 'third episode'. Those two series have a unique link: Chow Yun Fat is Stephen Chow's mentor (one is god, the other is saint or knight). Another (major!) inconsistency in this film: Stephen Chow owns a photograph of the 'God of Gamblers', though everybody knows that, according to the series' mythology, there can be only one: the one on his back!
Originally Guan Yu is a character from the novel 'The Three Kingdoms' by Luo Guan-Zhong. Better known under the name of Guan Gong, this general has gradually become a deity worshipped by numerous Chinese, especially by the Hongkongese. Shopkeepers burn incense sticks in front of statuettes bearing his effigy; but they aren't the only ones to ask for his blessing. Policemen and Triad members do likewise as one can see in Hard Boiled by John Woo or even in Crime Story de Kirk Wong.
Hongkongese speciality brought to light by John Woo in the 80s with notably A Better Tomorrow. HK gunfights are multiplied compared to Hollywood ones. The protagonists, a gun in each hand like Chow Yun Fat, don't hesitate in emptying their nearly unlimited magazines on a dozen henchmen coming from all sides (for example, as in the last scenes of Hard Boiled et du A Better Tomorow 2). Besides, people hardly ever reload their weapons (it would slow down the action!).
The HK gunfights inspired by Sam Peckinpah and Sergio Leone have again inspired the American specialists that John Mac Tiernan and Walter Hill are.
Gwei = Ghost, Lo = Man. It's a term used by the Cantonese to designate Occidental foreigners. At first a disdainful (even quite insulting) word, it has come into common use in time. You should worry more if one day someone calls you 'sai gweilo' ;-). See our file for more details.
Jumping Chinese vampire. Called Jiangshi ('corpse') in Mandarin or Gyonshi in Cantonese.
The Chinese title of 'Mr. Vampire' is Jiangshi xiansheng ('Mr. Corpse'). The Chinese vampires belong to the Gui ('Ghost') category.