Today I learnt that the snake-hawk form is very rare. Only one family learns it. (Yes, I've been watching very old king fu films. That comes from Snuff Bottle Connection. which is notably mainly for the peerless Hwang Jang-Lee in his white-haired villain mode, and stunt work from a 19 year-old (or) so Yuen Biao.
There was an adorable nine week old husky puppy on the local news. I have dog envy.
I capped the day by watching my upgrade dvd of The Prodigal Son (Bai Ga Jai) (Hong Kong 1981), which is one of the great martial arts movies (it regularly makes Top Ten lists even nearly 30 years on). Yes, predictably, it stars Yuen Biao, aged 24 in his third lead role. This was the film where his acting (as opposed to martial arts/acrobatic) really came together and he shines. The joy of the film is that it has no villain, though there is an antagonist and there are characters who are not necessarily nice. The plot covers the familiar grounds of martial training and revenge, but the core of it is that those with power need to grow up and act responsibly. Both protagonist and antagonist follow that arc, learn and survive. Re-watching it made me realise how much I miss debating and discussing Hong Kong cinema. I've lost track of the last few years of HK film: the cycle of production moved out of wu-xia and action into triad films and rom-coms which I like less, and many of my favourite actors have retired or moved on elsewhere. There are newer stars whom I like a lot -- Gillian Chung Yan-Tung springs to mind, and Richie Jen Hsian-Chieh (though he's on his second wind as an actor) but even the big names of the mid to late 90s, like Ekin Chen Yi-Kin are fading now and actors take some time to settle. And while I continue to buy and enjoy the big historical epics, I do miss the 80s style action comedies -- like Paper Marriage and Shanghai Express, which are gone as a genre -- recent ones don't have that pool of opera-trained action actors.
Still, Yuen Biao is making a come-back as a major supporting actor in both tv and film, and the generation that are stars now grew up watching and admiring him, and, I suspect, want to work with him. (This is certainly the case with Nicholas Tse Ting-Fung, who is another actor who has recently gone from teen pin-up to serious lead, and has admitted being a YB fan). I can hope...