Heroes of the East

Film discussion and banter


    Wu Ma (1942-2014)

    Share

    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Wu Ma (1942-2014)

    Post  Brian T on Tue Feb 04, 2014 9:18 am

    Sad news from Hong Kong today:

    http://www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1420671/veteran-actor-wu-ma-dies

    Starting as a drama actor in the city, Fung later signed up with Shaw Brothers (Hong Kong) Studio and made his screen debut in 1963. Since then he had over 180 appearances to his name plus 38 directorial credits within a 25-year period.

    That line's a good reminder of why I love Hong Kong cinema. Show me a Hollywood or European director working contemporaneously to Wu that made 38 films in 25 years, and even if you can name one, I'll put up another hundred Hong Kong talents who matched Wu Ma's output either before or behind the camera, or both.

    Still, 71's too young to go these days. Damned cigarettes, man . . .  Evil or Very Mad


    Last edited by Brian T on Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:11 am; edited 1 time in total

    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 392
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Wu Ma (1942-2014)

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Feb 04, 2014 10:41 am

    John Ford did around 89 in a 24 year period (1919 to 1943) Very Happy Actually if you pick studio directors up until the 50s it is easy to find ones who could match that output. It is the newer Hollywood (and European) directors who tend to do fewer.

    Yeah 71 is a bit too young these days, though still not uncommon among males who smoke. I think I've seen around 11 of Wu Ma's directed films and a whole bunch more when he was in it. I will have to find some more of his directed films.

    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Wu Ma (1942-2014)

    Post  Brian T on Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:10 am

    After I posted, I figured I was opening myself up to someone listing names from Hollywood's golden and silent eras, but based on the rate of responses around this place in recent months, I figured no one would respond!  Wink 

    That said, my original post should have specified (and now will!) directors/actors who worked contemporaneously to Wu Ma. This eliminates John Ford and pretty much everyone else working in Hollywood or anywhere else pre-1964 (when Wu Ma debuted as an actor) or pre-1970 (when he debuted as a director). Thus, in Wu Ma's time, outside of Hong Kong few matched him. Inside Hong Kong, however, his work ethic was essentially the rule and not the exception, as we all know, and that's what made -- and still makes, Hong Kong cinema so amazing. Business as usual, in other words, long after Hollywood had stopped working that way (regrettably, I'd argue). And even when Hollywood did work that way (directors cranking out two or three pictures a year), I'd argue that it didn't have as many directors and actors per capita (so to speak) knocking 'em out the way they did in Hong Kong (i.e. a higher percentage, especially among actors).  Very Happy

    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 392
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Wu Ma (1942-2014)

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:28 am

    You knew I was going to bring up old time directors. The silent era is an amazing and interesting time. The HK directors remind me more of a few decades later (especially Shaw Brothers), but yeah you do not/will not see that amount again with Hollywood films. The process, especially post-production, is too long -- especially when you add in CGI.

    I forgot Wu Ma did Exorcist Master which was fun -- derivative fun. Not everybody was happy with his efforts, listen to the commentary from Wong Tao on Along Comes a Tiger (best technical Rarescope release with Toby Russell commentary.) But he had some solid efforts like the codirected The Water Margin and All Men are Brothers. Looking over his list I need to pick up several.

    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Wu Ma (1942-2014)

    Post  Brian T on Tue Feb 04, 2014 12:39 pm

    Not knocking the silent or golden eras for sure. If you skim through my "now watching" posts, you'll see I've been watching my fair share of both over the past couple of years, and still have mountains of both yet to tackle, but I think it's really a question of eras that has popped up here because of my simple oversight in the original post. Obviously the Hong Kong studio system was very much influenced by the Hollywood model, but it managed to make it work considerably later into the century and that's no mean feat. And even when Hong Kong's studio system started to give way to independents and smaller corporations, those independents likewise operated with a similar "factory" mindset: "crank out as much as you can, as fast as you can" (Philip Ko Fei and a few others were still thinking this way right into the early 2000's as my immense VCD library attests -- mind you, lots of junky movies by then, which was the inevitable trade-off).

    Like you say, we won't see that kind of prodigious output from Hollywood ever again—or from Hong Kong cinema or most others for that matter (though I have my suspicions about the Filipino industry)—but implied in my original comment (i thought) was the notion that even in the 60's and 70's we weren't seeing it from Hollywood anymore (well, unless you factor in the numbers from the exploitation markets), which is a shame because that's the era when the studio system finally started to see the shackles come off, but naturally by then it—and filmmaking in general—seemed to have evolved to value quality over quantity. In theory, anyway. Mind you, that era did produce a staggering amount of provocative, progressive cinema and technical advancements that Hong Kong filmmakers and other industries often didn't/couldn't adapt until much later (example: ZU using FX techniques that were already old hat in Hollywood films; or nearly the whole of the "second wave" and their sociological explorations).

    As much as I admire the products of the silent and golden era Hollywood factories, Hong Kong cinema had the benefit of its factories churning out product in a much less restrictive and more technologically advanced era and environment than Hollywood of the 1910's to 1950's—in spite of if it being a bit behind the curve on the latest techniques out of L.A.—which is why Wu Ma and his contemporaries could be as prolific as they were throughout the 1970's and 1980's, while the era for doing so in Hollywood was long past.

    Mind you, to followup on your comments about his films, I'm not surprised he might have rubbed people the wrong way. I should seek out that commentary—it sound's interesting. Some of his 80's/90's supernatural films are real mixed bags: reliable (if increasingly outmoded) technical skill, above-average martial arts stuff (usually), but too many childish asides. Mind you, I haven't seen all his films from that era, so those silly bits may have been exceptions. Smile

    Masterofoneinchpunch

    Posts : 392
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: Wu Ma (1942-2014)

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:58 pm

    Brian, I put some notes on the commentary in the supplemental section (I had thought I put it there earlier, but apparently I did not.) I think you have noticed this when I am writing the below.

    It is important to note that pre-code American cinema was a different animal (even with so many State censors) than post code. Really Hollywood becomes a force in the 1930s because of production costs, but unfortunately to the demise of many independents. Cinema changed quickly. Some tragedies like when Buster Keaton signed with MGM, Harold Lloyd ultimately retiring, some having trouble moving to sound (Douglas Fairbanks Sr.) and some fighting the big companys and losing (Buster, John Gilbert -- it is often said it was his voice, but that is a canard) -- or a combination of the previous. But I digress.

    Brian T

    Posts : 319
    Join date : 2011-02-16

    Re: Wu Ma (1942-2014)

    Post  Brian T on Tue Feb 04, 2014 2:33 pm

    We're definitely digressing, I think. I amended the original post earlier today to make most of this discussion moot anyway. It's been interesting, although I don't think either of us are learning anything new now. Now that someone's actually responding to my posts again, I'll need to watch my wording!  Laughing 

    Cash

    Posts : 63
    Join date : 2011-02-16
    Location : Central Illinois

    Re: Wu Ma (1942-2014)

    Post  Cash on Thu Mar 06, 2014 8:24 pm

    Wu Ma was my favorite Hong Kong rapper ("A Chinese Ghost Story," "Fox Legend") and he will be missed.


    Sponsored content

    Re: Wu Ma (1942-2014)

    Post  Sponsored content


      Current date/time is Fri Feb 24, 2017 4:32 am