Chinese Box

written by Jean-Claude Carriere,

starring Jeremy Irons, Gong Li, Maggie Cheung, and Michael Hui

Director Wayne Wang, an American Chinese and originally a native of Hong Kong, borrows the main male character, John (Jeremy Irons) to speak out his truth regarding the Hong Kong Handover 1997. John, a British journalist, who is dying of leukimia, decides to act on his love for a woman, Vivian (Gong Li) who is an owner of bar. She is engaged to a Hong Kong businessman (Michael Hui). As John is told he might not live through the Hong Kong Handover, he escapes his daily routine and runs around to take pictures of Hong Kong. Then, he meets Jean (Maggie Cheung), a young girl who was dumped by a British boyfriend because his parents could not accept a Chinese girl in his family.

The audience can catch the fear of uncertainty in the people's mind, and the continued encountering of racial discrimination by the British.

One scene in the movie was filmed at Asiaweek's office in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong, and other indoor scenes include the China Club and the Hong Kong Jockey Club. When John took his co-worker to the top of Victoria Peak by motorcylce, his colleaque commented it was such beautiful, panoramic view, but boring. He preferred to take the closeup pictures of the city, capturing daily lifestyle scenes like slaughtering a chicken's head with a cleaver in the market, playing mahjong in the street, enjoying a cup of noodles in small apartment, etc. These are scenes of the real Hong Kong, and director Wayne Wang has captured them faithfully in this quirky, unforgetteable movie. Worth watching multiple times.

Coincidentially, another interesting story is also called:

The Chinese Box

written by Christopher News

Christopher New was born in England and educated at Oxford and Princeton Universities. He lived for nearly three decades in Asia and he was a Head of Department of Philosophy at Hong Kong University. His books have been translated into German, Portugese, Japanese and Chinese. Shanghai, a first book of his Trilogy was on the New York Times Bestsellers list once.

The Chinese Box is second of a trilogy, flashs back to the time of Chinese Culture Revolution period about 1960s. Dimitri, a half Russian and half English journalist, fears he may be forced to leave Hong Kong, while his wife, who hates Hong Kong, savors the opportunity. He has a love affair with a prostitute, Julie, and also meets Mila, a Chinese Ballet dancer. Their relationships deepen and their internal struggles are harder. At the time, Maoist Communist violence had threatened people in Hong Kong, they have to make agonizing choices.

In his book, he covers a good account of riots and disturbances like Shek-O Wan and Kowloon Walled City in 1960s.

A Change of Flag

A third book in Christopher New's Trilogy

The background is Hong Kong in 1983, where the city is diverse and vital. However, it is taut underlying anxiety and suspense when the British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher went to Beijing and negotiates with the Communist Chinese Government about the future of this final jewel in Britain's Imperial Crown.

The author creates a Eurasian, Michael Denton, who had always hoped his wealth would protect his family in times like these, but when he receives a message from his sister in Shanghai, he feels the ground move under his feet. Once a devoted communist, Lily has now lost her faith and wants him to help her escape from China. Michael cannot refuse, but the risks are high - if he fails he will be ruined.

As Hong Kong’s fate hovers in the balance, so too does Michael’s. Haunted by the past, he faces agonising choices, which will affect many other lives besides his own.

A Change of Flag, released by Bantam in 1990, is the culminating work of Christopher New’s celebrated novels on the apogee and decline of the British Empire on the China Coast.

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