Lights, China, Action

Guns will blaze at the Chinese Film Festival.
Chinese Film Festival
Doris Duke Theatre,
The Honolulu Academy of Arts
Tickets are $5 to $7, available at the Box Office.
For showtimes: 532-8768 or

The centerpiece of this month’s Chinese Film Festival at the Doris Duke Theatre is a trilogy of Hong Kong crime thrillers called Infernal Affairs. Americans have happily devoured this style of film since the 1990s, meeting along the way such directors as John Woo and actors as Chow Yun-Fat. What is the appeal?

"Directors in Hong Kong took a familiar genre, the crime genre, and put art into action films in a way no one had seen before," says Konrad Ng, film and video curator for the Honolulu Academy of Arts. The same holds true for the Infernal Affairs films. "What sets them apart is their style, the intrigue and the complexity, built into each of the three."

Of course, the Academy’s six-film festival offers some more introspective fare as well. In all, the festival includes:

Electric Shadows: A man rediscovers his love of movies through reading a diary belonging to a woman he is caring for. Multiple showings between Dec. 2 and Dec. 8.

Infernal Affairs: Hard-boiled Hong Kong action starring Andy Lau and Tony Leung–one plays an undercover cop, the other a mole in the police force who’s secretly working for the criminal triads (the Chinese counterpart to the Mafia), hunting each other down in the underworld. Dec. 1 at 7:30 p.m.

A scene from Infernal Affairs. photo: courtesy of the Honolulu Academy of Arts

Infernal Affairs II: The first film was such a hit, it spawned a prequel. Dec. 2 at 7:30 p.m.

Infernal Affairs III: Picks up where the first Infernal Affairs left off, following the police and the triads to a final confrontation. Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m.

The World: Follows the lives and loves of young people working at Beijing’s World Park–imagine something like the Epcot Center–where their provincial backgrounds clash with modernity and globalization. Multiple showings between Dec. 9 and Dec. 14.

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress: Set during China’s Cultural Revolution. Two university students sent for re-education. They find a hidden trove of Western literary classics, leading them to discover the power of the written word. Multiple screenings between Dec. 15 and Dec. 19.