strange_complex: (True Blood Eric wink)
Fandom can take you to some terrible places, can't it? Just as every really enthusiastic Doctor Who fan eventually ends up watching stories like The Twin Dilemma or Warriors of the Deep, knowing full well that they are terrible, because they love the series as a whole so much, it seems that sooner or later the avid Hammer Dracula fan finds themselves face to face with The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. I've gone down this road once before in my life, and had hoped to avoid ever retreading it. But now that I've got the idea in my head of trying to make the entire Hammer Dracula franchise fit together into a single coherent canon, it had to be rewatched. [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan was kind enough to accompany me in the endeavour, fortified in her case by the prospect of some Peter Cushingy goodness. I, alas, had no such comfort, since Christopher Lee was noticeable only by his absence - but even as a massive fan of his Dracula, I have to admit that he called this one right.

The film is a co-production between Hammer and the Hong Kong-based Shaw Studio, filmed entirely on location in Hong Kong, which attempts to marry up the '70s kung-fu craze with the successful Dracula franchise for Much Box Office Win. Apparently (according to this book about Peter Cushing from which [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan emailed me some relevant details), Shaw insisted on the Dracula character appearing within the film, even though Christopher Lee has refused to do it, as they believed it would pull in the audiences. I guess Hammer weren't so convinced, as Dracula isn't actually mentioned in the UK release title (The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires), but he was in some of the foreign release titles (e.g. the USA, Singapore).

In my view, the Hungarian title, Van Helsing és a 7 aranyvámpír, is actually what the film should have been called everywhere (with appropriate translation, obviously), because essentially that's what it is - a Van Helsing adventure which takes our man to China, rather than any kind of Dracula film. I found myself opining in a comment on my Brides of Dracula review that although personally I'm glad that Hammer (mainly) used Dracula as the thread to link their sequels together after the first film, as far as story potential goes it would have been equally valid to do the same with Van Helsing. That's essentially what Brides of Dracula does, in spite of its title, and it's also what The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires does, in spite of including a character called Count Dracula. [livejournal.com profile] ms_siobhan's book also reports that a further film entitled Kali, Devil Bride of Dracula was planned for after Legend, and presumably this would have been much the same, but this time taking Van Helsing to India. Indeed, Google informed me that Hammer got as far as mocking up promotional posters for this film, and Peter Cushing is certainly on them.

Bodged-on Dracula book-ends )

An actually quite decent Van-Helsing-goes-to-China story in the middle )

But with too much chop-socky action, poor treatment of the Chinese characters and even worse treatment of the women )

And some nods to The Seven Samurai (probably), Dracula 1931 and Nosferatu 1922 )

OK then - so I'm properly done with watching and reviewing every possible entry in the Hammer Dracula franchise. Next to ramp up the geekiness yet another notch while I rake over their in-story canon and continuity in immense and obsessive detail.... *rubs hands with anticipation*

Click here if you would like view this entry in light text on a dark background.

strange_complex: (Rick's Cafe)
This afternoon, after a nice lie-in to recover from last night's cinema trip, I happened to catch the opening credits of The World of Suzie Wong on Channel 5, while channel-hopping. I hopped no further - I was hooked.

I'd heard of the film before, and knew it was a legend amongst Hong Kong movies, while the opening credits wowed me with scenes of the harbour and the Star Ferry that transported me right back to my visit there last Easter.

The film is set in Hong Kong in 1960, and is about an American architect who goes there to try to make it as an artist, and a prostitute, Suzie Wong, who starts posing as his model. They go through all sorts of trials and tribulations, including of course a lot of prejudice from his white friends, but eventually they come through them all, realise that they should be together and decide to marry at the end of the film.

Both characters were dynamic and very three-dimensional, and their interactions together complex and quite heart-rending in places: I found myself crying at the end! It also didn't hurt that the actress playing Suzie Wong, Nancy Kwan, was a visual delight if ever I saw one. But what really made it special for me was the fact that the film-makers had obviously decided to make a point of capturing the sights and sounds of Hong Kong. The ramshackle apartments in the poorer areas of the city were all there; the washing and banners hanging out into the streets; the sampans in Aberdeen harbour; stepped streets climbing steeply up the hill-sides; temples full of incense, hot food stalls and places selling exotic dried produce. And of course also many things which have changed between the 60s and the city I saw last year - the film featured rickshaws and people carrying baskets on poles over their shoulders, for example, which have both all but disappeared, and a sky-line which was virtually unrecognisable due to the myriad sky-scrapers which had sprung up since it was made. And the harbour - I've heard people in Hong Kong say it gets narrower and narrower every year as the shore-line on each side gets extended out into the sea for more building space, and having seen this film I fully believe them. The trip across the water on the Star Ferry which was featured at the beginning of the film seemed to take twice as long as I remember it taking last year, and the far shore looked impossibly distant when they first set off.

But what made watching this film really nice was that my Dad actually happens to be out there right now - lucky devil! I'm not sure quite what he's doing - some kind of Engineering conference I think. But I am jealous to think he's there, anyway, and it was nice to watch the film and think of him walking essentially the same streets (if forty-five years later). I shall look forward to hearing his traveller's tales when he gets back.

Finally, this has reminded me to share one of my favourite photos from my own trip to Hong Kong, which I don't think I've got round to posting in this journal before (apologies if I have):

All roads lead to Hung Hom station )
strange_complex: (Default)
I've been wanting to post the following scan of a postcard I brought back from Hong Kong for ages, largely for the benefit of [livejournal.com profile] gamahucheur, whom I know collects similar posters / postcards from Shanghai. However, until [livejournal.com profile] angeoverhere told me about Photobucket, I believed I had no way of hosting it to post it up here (at least, not without spending money!).

Now that the problem is solved, I present my favourite one out of three postcards I bought, reproducing advertising posters of the 20s and 30s from Hong Kong. They are basically all along the same lines: they show pretty, Chinese girls using Western-style products, which are generally cigarettes or alcohol. The reason this one is my favourite, though, is the expression on the girl's face. While the others look demure and beautiful, this one offers just the hint of a sulk. She looks for all the world as though she's saying, "You took my country away, and all I get is these lousy cigarettes".

Picture under here )

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