Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Private Eyes (1976)

The Private Eyes (1976)

March 17th, 7:00PM in Garland 104 (2441 E. Hartford)

The 1970's saw a transformation in all levels of Hong Kong cinema. This had to do with the shifting of the Mandarin dialect cinema which evolved through the 1950's and possessed great sense of connection to the pre-Civil War Mainland cinema to a domestic Cantonese dialect industry that fully embraced Hong Kong and its people. A major player in this change are the Huo brothers whose English names are Michael, Sam and Ricky. They found great fame in a TV variety program that they headlined which in tone and impact can be compared to the Smothers Brothers in the United States. In it they looked at aspects of everyday Hong Kong life including its hypocrisies with an eye towards irony.
Michael was the first to move into cinema, starring in four films at the Shaw Brothers studio under director Li Han Hsiang. They were major hits and allowed all three brothers to have creative freedom in producing their own film, this time under the Golden Harvest studio. The films they made were tremendous hits, becoming some of the most popular productions of the decade and making them the preeminent force in Hong Kong comedy.
Co-directed by Michael Hui and John Woo, The Private Eyes has becomes one of the most popular comedies rating number thirteen on the Hong Kong film awards list of the 103 greatest Chinese films. Woo, who had been working for the Shaw Brothers moved to Golden Harvest in the 1970's and became known as a successful comedic director years before his pioneering work in the Heroic Bloodshed film. The story deals with two everyman played by Ricky and Sam Hui who come to work for an abusive boss, played by Michael at a detective agency. The ideas that it deals with include the viewpoint of the average person who aspires to great wealth and power but also wishes to avoid any kind of honest labor.

Hong Kong, Directors Michael Hui and John Woo, Cast Michael Hui, Sam Hui, Ricky Hui, Richard Ng and Sek Kin, 94 minutes, in Cantonese with English subtitles

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