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Highlights from China’s cinematic legacy

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Away from the bright lights of Hollywood, there have been several nations that have been making encouraging signs in their bid to redress the global imbalance in cinematic output.

Already the phenomenally successful Bollywood movies of India have had a far-reaching impact beyond our cinema screens, but it seems as though it’s China’s turn to seize the spotlight as it looks set to become the largest movie market in the world.

Chungking Express

Chungking Express

China’s cinematic legacy is long and varied with themes that reached all the way from agriculture to casino games. From its first operatic movies at the turn of the century, to the ‘golden age’ of the 1930s that saw film-makers embracing Shanghai as its movie-making hub, China seemed set to be a key player in global cinema until the Cultural Revolution all-but wiped out the nation’s international cinematic development.

However, with the gradual loosening of restrictions, 1984 saw the director Chen Kaige releasing the thoughtful and impressionistic Yellow Earth that subtly documented the plight of peasant workers struggling in the face of adverse living conditions.

Yellow Earth

Yellow Earth

As Hong Kong came closer to being reintegrated into mainland China, there was a groundswell of cinematic output that displayed a newfound vigour with the likes of 1994’s Chungking Express portraying a neon wilderness full of conflicted individuals facing an uncertain future in the times of immense political change.

Some of the area’s movie output was more strident however, with the director Wong Jing cultivating a mini-genre of movies that focused on gambling with 1989’s God of Gamblers being packed full of high-stakes poker matches, villainous activity, and the exploits of future star Chow Yun Fat.

As casino culture continues to play a massive part in the region and more entertainment fans can access games of poker, roulette and blackjack on their mobiles thanks to CasinosGuide770’s promotional offers of their website, it’s thought that the prestige of these groundbreaking films will continue to showcase Hong Kong’s cinematic tradition.

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But it’s not just traditional casino games that have been given a cinematic treatment, as the fabled martial arts of the nation have also helped it attract the attention of the world. In particular Ang Lee’s martial arts melodrama Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon introduced the world to a spectacular blend of choreographed combat and breathtaking scenery, whereas Zhang Yimou’s 2002 epic Hero showed that China could beat Hollywood when it comes to non-stop action.

And although this year’s Netflix sequel of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon may have suffered mixed reviews, it’s evident that China’s cinematic output will continue to grow with staggering speed.

 

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