China and Inner Asia
Timmy Chih-Ting Chen
Academy of Film, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong
In a 1984 article, “The Journey of Desires,” Sek Kei points out that sex and nudity were “new inventions” and “breakthroughs” in Hong Kong cinema of the 1970s. Why were sex and nudity “invented” in 1970s Hong Kong cinema? I argue that the depiction of sex and nudity was not so much a new invention as the reinvention of a Cantonese cinema in decline since the late 1960s. In other words, the emergence of the erotic genre in 1970s Hong Kong was the survival strategy of the film industry in the context of the loosening of censorship. Sex and violence often went hand in hand as dictated by the market. The 1970s Hong Kong cinema was dominated by “fists and pillows” (quantou yu zhentou). Cheng Yu mentions the reinvention of the actor Alan Tang in Godfather-like gangster films and that of the actor Lui Kei as the director of erotic films such as Sexy Girls of Denmark (1973). In this paper, I will focus on Ho Fan’s erotic action film Love and Blood (1972) as my case study, a transitional film that hovers between Hong Kong’s experimental amateur cinema of the 1960s and commercial cinema of the 1970s. My aim is twofold: to explore the emergence of the erotic genre in Hong Kong cinema and to reconcile Fan Ho’s conflicting images as a street photographer and a director of softcore pornography.