The 36th Chamber of Shaolin
The 36th Chamber of Shaolin

By Janine Gericke. 

From Johnnie To’s new crime flick to some kickass kung fu, the third annual San Francisco Film Society’s Hong Kong Cinema festival is set to delight audiences with this year’s lineup.

Flora Lau’s Bends (2013, Cantonese with subtitles), which debuted at Cannes, opens the festival. The film follows a Hong Kong chauffer who is desperately trying to find a way for his wife to give birth, while the woman he works for tries to keep her husband’s disappearance a secret. Famed cinematographer Christopher Doyle, of Chungking Express and In the Mood for Love, sets the stage for the film’s dazzling imagery.

The festival also hosts screenings of kung fu classics The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1977, Mandarin and Cantonese with subtitles), which inspired the infamous Wu Tang Clan and The Eight Diagram Pole Fighter (1984, Mandarin with subtitles). These should prove to be huge hits among the weekend’s filmgoers.

The Blind Detective
The Blind Detective

Perhaps most exciting, the festival will host the U.S. premiere of Johnnie To’s Blind Detective (Man tam, 2013, Cantonese with subtitles). The film recently premiered at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival. Andy Lau, of such hits as Infernal Affairs and Wong Kar Wai’s Days of Being Wild, stars as the film’s titular character, searching for his childhood friend.

Other films making their debuts are Kiwi Chow’s A Complicated Story (2013, Cantonese with subtitles), Oxide Pang’s Conspirators (Tóngmóu, Hong Kong/China, 2013, Cantonese and Madarin with subtitles), Yan Yan Mak’s The Great War: Director’s Cut (2013, Cantonese with subtitles), and Wong Jing’s The Last Tycoon (Da Shanghai, 2012, Mandarin with subtitles).

All screenings take place at San Francisco’s Vogue Theatre October 4-6, 2013. Visit for more details.

Janine Gericke is a Film International ‘In the Field’ writer.

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