Chinese Literature Dissertation Reviews: The Hong Kong Crime Film

Hong Kong Crime Film & Film Noir Dissertation Reviews has posted Yang Wei‘s review of Kristof van den Troost‘s dissertation, The Hong Kong Crime Film: Genre and Film Noir from the 1940s to the Present. Here’s how it begins:

Although an impressive amount of scholarship on Hong Kong cinema has been published in the last two decades, crime film as a genre has mostly evaded critical attention. Narrated in a keen, persuasive scholarly voice, Kristof Van den Troost’s Hong Kong Crime Film fills this gap by establishing the general lines of this important Hong Kong genre since its early inception in the 1940s. At the heart of this genre-oriented approach lies the author’s fundamental mistrust of the predominant academic practice in Hong Kong cultural studies, one that privileges the importance of 1997 and its impact on local identities. The single-mindedness of this approach often prompts scholars to find political corollaries in given film productions. Granted that no film can be truly independent of ideology and the dominant mechanism of socio-economic productions, the challenge here is to avoid overreaching, a mission the author suggests many have failed in various degrees. Common problems include “treating a film (or a select group of films) as a direct representation of society” and “singling out one film for a political analysis.” As a result, studies on Hong Kong cinema have become “more [focused] on ‘Hong Kong’ than on its cinema,” with many significant aspects of Hong Kong cinema, including the historical study of genres, remaining virtually unexplored.