thriller / true story / fork religion / tradition / women's oppression
Ann HUI's debut feature, The Secret, is a mystery thriller based on a real case. After a young couple is discovered brutally murdered, their neighbor Lin starts investigating the mystery surrounding their deaths. As more stories involved with the case come in, it starts to become clear that Chinese superstitions are connected with the tragic events.
The film is based on the true-life 'Double Corpse Murder Case in the Mount Lung Fu' event that occurred in Hong Kong in 1970. The film starts by depicting a young man and a woman hung among tree branches. What follows is akin to an autopsy report. With this setting established, audiences are driven to expect the protagonist to chase and uncover the culprit. The film does not attempt to defy any mystery-thriller narrative elements. The film even embraces Hong Kong-specific Taoist settings as well as modern forensic techniques. Yet those elements do not necessarily function as the central motif for solving the murder mystery. Instead, the film employs motifs of HITCHCOCK's Rear Window and Vertigo as the tension and suspense accumulates, while appropriating the graphic violence of the Italian crime and thriller subgenre called Giallo. Ann HUI successfully made this thriller film as her debut feature, incorporating Hong Kong's local features while taking full advantage of suspense-thriller generic conventions. Moreover, the film attempts to carry out a gender revision project by assigning roles for plot deployment, speed adjustment, and direction selection to two female subjects. [LEE Yumi]
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Ann HUI was born in 1947 in Anju City, Liaoning Province, China, to a Nationalist Party clerk and a Japanese mother. Her family moved to Macau and then settled in Hong Kong. She found out her mother was Japanese when she was a teenager, as she assumed her mother spoke clumsy Cantonese because she was from another part of China. After receiving a Masters in English Literature and Comparative Literature at the University of Hong Kong, she studied filmmaking at the London Film School in UK in 1972. HUI returned from UK in 1974 and worked at the film department of Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB) in Hong Kong. The TV films and dramas she produced at this time form the pre-history of Hong Kong's New Wave along with TV films from directors TSUI Hark, FONG Allen and YIM Ho. In particular, HUI dealt with social issues afflicting the lives of the middle and lower classes in Hong Kong in the series Below the Lion Rock, which was broadcast by Hong Kong's public broadcaster for decades, making her Hong Kong's leading socially-conscious film director. In 1979, she directed her first feature The Secret, a thriller that examined female oppression in traditional Chinese communities. Together with the directors who debuted around the same time, she led the New Wave era in Hong Kong. The story of Vietnamese refugees that began in From Vietnam (1978) in Below the Lion Rock was then linked to The Story of Woo Viet (1981) and Boat People (1982), completing the 'Vietnamese trilogy'. Since then, she has continued to capture the ever-evolving city of Hong Kong from her own perspective. Her filmography includes Song of the Exile (1990), which reflects on East Asian history by focusing on a mother-daughter relationship; the 'Vietnamese trilogy' which captures Hong Kong, a city of refugees and separated families; Summer Snow (1995), The Postmodern Life of My Aunt (2006), A Simple Life (2011) which reflect on the lives of middle-aged and older women in the city; The Way We are (2008), and Night and Fog (2009) which portray the ordinary lives of people in a city near the Chinese border after Hong Kong's return to China. Ann HUI has received Golden Lion award for Lifetime Achievement at Venice International Film Festival 2020.
Hong Kong Film Archive, Leisure and Cultural Services Department (康樂及文化事務署香港電影資料館) / FUNG Lesley / email@example.com