Stream/Society--Mystery HK Theater 2K20: Crazy 90s Sci-Fi


Location: Streaming (online)

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Screen/Society delves into the dusty archive of import, out of print, and custom fan-subtitled DVDs, in search of forgotten gems of Hong Kong genre cinema from the 80s and 90s.

Show up to one of our Thursday night live-streams with no preconceptions, not knowing what film you are about to see, and if you are not already a devotee of this particular cinematic universe then it’s very likely that you’ll come away with new memories of spectacles unlike anything you’ve seen before onscreen… Questions and reactions welcome in the live chat!

Unusual genre hybrids of kung fu, comedy, supernatural horror, sci-fi, modern day police and gangster action, warrior women and “girls with guns”, with wild tonal shifts, creative low-budget special effects, and unbelievable stunts, acrobatics, and fight choreography at a level that was the best in the world at the time!

This week's sub-genre is: "Wild, over-the-top ’90s Sci-Fi"

A lot of Hong Kong cinema in the 90s betrays a preoccupation with the impending 1997 "Handover" of Hong Kong from Britain to Mainland China, which comes out in a mix of overt references to 1997 as well as more allegorically couched themes of "end times" or cataclysmic change, "invasions", conundrums around identity and mixed loyalties, or themes relating to deadlines, expiration dates, or "running out the clock"... The science fiction genre lent itself particularly well to these themes, and allowed Hong Kong filmmakers to show off their recent progress and frenzied creativity in the areas of special effects, make-up, cinematography, and stunt-work.

Extra reading:

Images from a 90s Hong Kong Sci-Fi films


Sponsor: Cinematic Arts at Duke University