May 19, 2024

Feted in Busan this week as the Asian Filmmaker of the Year, Hong Kong superstar bemoaned censorship in China for its impact on the film industry.

“We have a lot of censorship requirements in mainland China. Scripts must go to many departments. So, we need [to portray] clear situations in scripts. Honestly, we will try our best to make movies with Hong Kong spirit. In the 1980s people watched a lot of Hong Kong films. I’m proud,” said Chow at a press event at the Busan International Film Festival on Thursday.

“After 1997 [the year when Hong Kong ceased to be a British colony and was returned to China] a lot of things changed. We have to pay attention to our government. Otherwise, it will be hard to get the money to make movies. The Mainland market is so huge.”

Insisting that he is “just an ordinary person,” Chow spend much of the rest of the event emitting a joyful and relaxed aura, discussing his love for Korean food and marathon running. But he also reverted to issue of creative freedom when discussing Korean cinema.

“Whenever I watch Korean films, I’m always impressed by the level of freedom they have. They have such a wide range of topics and a high degree of freedom,” said Chow.

Chow declined to rise to the bait when questioned about the currently depressed state of the Korean box office and the rise of streaming services. Instead, he suggested that streaming platforms should inspire filmmakers to look at new subjects.

Many Chinese and Hong Kong performers have previously resisted overt criticism of the censorship and film approvals structure in mainland China, some of which are now being adopted in Hong Kong. But Chow was careful not to criticize specific officials, political leaders or situations. Moreover, Chow repeatedly suggested that acting is no longer his top priority.

Although he is in Busan with Hong Kong movie “One More Chance,” Chow lightly suggested that it could be his last. “I’m on my second career now. My first was as an actor, my second one is as an athlete.”

Asked about his own acting career and the favorites among his performances, he quickly replied: “A Better Tomorrow,” “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and “The Killers.”

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