Tuesday, October 04, 2011

City Under Siege (2010) -- Hong Kong Does Superheroes

When one asks the average film goer what kinds of films they think of when they hear the words "Hong Kong Cinema," the words "exciting superhero action" aren't the first words that one would expect to hear.  None the less, those words are an accurate statement about the HK film industry.  In addition to marvelously exciting police dramas, and the worlds best martial arts films, some very entertaining superhero movies have come to America from Hong Kong's creatively fertile film industry.

These superhero films -- like BLACK MASK, HEROIC TRIO, and LEGEND OF THE FIST -- also happen to contain some fantastic kung fu action, but their plot lines more closely follow a traditional American comic book plot than a Louis Cha novel or Kung Fu historical tale.  That isn't to say that the shadow of jiang hu doesn't loom over these films, it does.  These are still martial arts films that can contain traditional wuxia elements, but they are also superhero films.

This year's San Francisco Film Society's Hong Kong Cinema celebration (September 23 - 25) features a recent entry into the HK superhero film genre, and we can see the influence of shows like HEROES in the overarching narrative.  In CITY UNDER SIEGE, a group of circus performers find a cache of WWII gold that they expect will change their lives financially.  When they go to claim their prize there lives are changed in another way as they are exposed to a strange toxic chemical that transforms them into superhumanly powerful beings.  After the exposure these performers decide to use their new found powers to commit crime after crime...all except one of the group.

Collin Chou -- who starred in MATRIX REVOLUTIONS and who is Donnie Yen's foe in FLASH POINT where they exhibit one of the most exciting martial arts sequences ever film -- plays the main villain of the feature which bodes well for the action sequences.  The film is directed by Benny Chan who directed NEW POLICE STORY and SHAOLIN recently released on DVD.

By the looks of the preview CITY UNDER SIEGE the film combines superheroes, comedy, and martial arts excitement.  I wouldn't expect the serious drama of IP MAN or HERO from this film, but it does look like it might be a lot of fun.  Let's hope an American distributor picks this one up.

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