Seven Cantonese Opera Productions Return to the Silver Screen
Why We Recommend it
Experience the cinematic glory of some of the most iconic xiqu films ever produced at West Kowloon Cultural District’s newly opened Xiqu Centre.
Seven Cantonese opera films produced in Hong Kong between 1948 and 1962 will be screened at West Kowloon Cultural District’s newly opened Xiqu Centre. Starring celebrated stage artists like Hung Sin-nui, Sun-Ma Sze-tsang, and Kwan Hoi-san, these films showcase the artistic talents and are a comprehensive historical record of the intricate relationship between on-stage and on-screen personas.
The Judge Goes to Pieces is based on a traditional Peking opera play. It tells of the story of a retired magistrate, Sung Sai-kit, who joins hands with his wife to defend a wrongly accused women and with that, uphold justice in their town.
Adapted from the classic play Romance of the Western Chamber, the comedy film Hung-neung the Matchmaker revolves around young scholar Cheung Kwan-shui and his love for the daughter of a prominent minister. When Cheung successfully prevents Ying-ying, his lover, from being kidnapped by a rebel army general, Madam Choi initially agrees to let him marry her daughter. However, realising the class differences, she swiftly changes her mind. Will Ying-ying’s clever chambermaid be successful in helping the lovers tie the knot?
Sun-Ma Sze-tsang’s signature production The Sword is adapted from a classic Hui opera. After Han dynasty official Wong Mong kills the Han emperor and usurps the throne, he marries his daughter Lan-ying to his commander Ng Hon. Yet things get complicated when Ng’s mother reveals to her son that Wong is in fact his father’s murderer…
Butterfly Beauty is a combination of four highlight extracts, each performed by renowned stage stars. The first, Guan Hanqing tells the story of the plight of the titular Yuan dynasty dramatist being sent to prison for his damning portrayals of the ruling class. The Drowning of the Seven Armies depicts a famous battle from the classic historical novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms. The third segment, an extract from The Magic Lantern starring Baak Kui-wing and Long Kwun-yuk, follows the emotional journey of grieving father Lau Yin-cheong, forced to sacrifice one of his children to atone for the death of the Imperial tutor’s son. The closing segment, The Umbrella tells a heart-warming tale of two people falling in love while sharing an umbrella on a rainy day.
In this Chinese version of Romeo and Juliet called The Revenge Battle, Wai Chung-fai falls madly in love with Lui Dou-chi, a pretty young woman from a rival clan. Despite the conflict between the two families, Wai and Lui are willing to risk everything to be together.
Waiting for the Prodigal Son to Return tells of concubine Ha’s ambitious attempt to improve her status within the imperial family. After stealing the newborn son of the Emperor’s first wife Snow for herself and replacing the baby with a girl named Shum, Ha succeeds in driving her rival into exile and taking the throne by murdering the Emperor. But will she be able to secure her power when Shum and Prince Fung meets each other unexpectedly for the first time?
In Fourth Brother Yeung Visits His Mother, Fourth Brother Yeung, a Northern Song general, was forced into a reluctant marriage with the princess of the rival Liao clan. Learning that his mother has fallen gravely ill, Yeung makes an emotional declaration to his wife and gains the princess’s approval to return briefly to his homeland to see her. This production features famed martial arts master, Sek Yin-tsi, as Yeung’s younger brother.
A highlight of the screenings, My Way, a documentary, follows two young Cantonese opera performers in Hong Kong: Tam Wing-lun and Wong Hau-wai. Having made the unorthodox choice to specialise in the male dan role (female lead), the two men receive little support from their families, the industry or society and are kept going by their friendship and passion for the art form. Watching them motivate each other on and off stage as they learn to interpret the female roles, we see the bond of their friendship strengthen alongside the development of their performance skills.
Please note that apart from My Way, which is supplemented with both English and Chinese subtitles, and Waiting for the Prodigal Son to Return, which is not accompanied with subtitles, all Cantonese films are supplemented with Chinese subtitles only.