Cinema: Industry of Broken Dreams | VIdeo Essay


I was planning on writing an episode on Stephen Chow Which I still plan on doing But with a new film on horizon I want to spend some time on one of Chow’s masterpiece The King of Comedy Don’t be fooled by the title, though It’s a depressing film With a thin disguise of comedy Even as a kid, I realized this movie is not funny But little did I know, how sad this film really is To talk about this film We first need to talk about Stephen Chow During the 90s There were two major stars in Hong Kong cinema Jackie Chan And Stephen Chow One does action The other does comedy Both started from the very bottom as extras And eventually climbed the way up to the
top And as a sign of respect They also made cameos in each other’s movies “With some dedication you can do it” “Keep at it” In the case of Chow He spent eight years being extras in various TV stations Before finally landed a starring role And spent another decade to climb to the top And became a director Throughout the years Chow exhibits some amazing physical acting talent In his style similar to Jim Carrey His over-the-top expressions And unpredictable comedy won the hearts of people everywhere Though his film didn’t have much impact in the West It is hard for a foreign comedy to travel that far But he is still successful in the Asian market (Hindi Dub) And at the height of his fame Stephen Chow directed his magnum opus The King of Comedy The King of Comedy is a 1999 Hong Kong comedy Written and co-directed by Stephen Chow It follows the story of a failed actor Who despite his passion and talent Never has the opportunity to grow bigger Sometimes his ambitions gets in the way “Cut!” “What happened?” “What’s that man doing?” “He’s supposed to be dead” “Why did you take so long to die?” “Because the character I prepared is a bit cheeky” “So my motivation is ‘I don’t want to die yet’ ” Other times, the industry’s cruel attitude towards extras Forces seem to disrupt the film set “Ready?” “What are those doves doing there?” “I put them there” “There were doves in the last shot” “A few moments later” “Let’s try… turning the dove…” “Towards me” “Try turning the dove’s butt towards me” “One eternity later” “Wait, where’s my lighter?” “Where is my lighter?” “So much later that old narrator got tired of waiting and they had to hire a new one” Everyone looks down on him “Every time! What is wrong with you!?” Even the set coordinator denies him of his lunch, repeatedly “It’s all because you motherfucker” “Can’t even play dead” “You delayed everyone’s lunch” “I haven’t eaten yet!” “You want this?” “Go join him” Towards the end, however His passion finally affects a fellow star “I want you to be the male lead in my next movie” “Is lunch included?” Yet, at the last minute He is replaced Because he doesn’t have enough star power “He called us back” “Saying his schedule is cleared” “He’ll be the lead, instead” For the purpose of this video We’ll ignore the third act of the film it’s an obvious tack-on addition Likely forced by the studio So the film can be released as a feel-good comedy around Chinese holidays “Chow” This film might as well be a tragedy “Sorry” The film title “King of Comedy” is a marketing ploy to draw people in People saw Stephen Chow and expected
comedy But in the film The main character never achieves his goal of being a famous film actor He’s not even a comedic actor The King of Comedy is not the character It’s Stephen Chow “It’s so dark out there” “I can’t see anything” “Not always” “It’ll look great when dawn comes” And this film is about Chow Literally The film draws many inspirations from Chow’s early career Pissing off a major star Being hated because he’s just an extra “Never let me see him again!” “Or else you’ll be fired, too” All these stories are based on real events I keep saying this film feels really sad to me Because this film is partly real The scene I want to talk about is this
one “Extras are people, too, you know?” “Why don’t you say it louder?” “Extras are people, too!” “Why are you always against me” “You wanna know why?” “I want to know why!” “Because you are not worthy!” “You thought you are a big shot, opening an acting class” “You have the gall to talk about theories?” “Teahces kids how to act like a triad member?” “You are a disgrace to the craft of acting” “Hey! Stop yelling, get back to work” “Fuck” “Don’t you talk about ‘acting’ in front of me” The bald man here is the set coordinator Played by Ng Man-tat He’s a veteran actor Started his career way back in 70s But instead of a “has-been”, someone who passed the prime During the release of this film He was at the height of his popularity That is because throughout his career He frequently got cast as a supporting actor Notably a recurring support in Chow’s film With Chow being the most popular comedian in Hong Kong Ng Man-tat also broke through and became famous Audience loved him, they call him “Uncle Tat” That is not to say Tat lacks any talent In fact, he’s a very versatile actor He can be angry and abusive Like in this film Or cowardly and kind Like in “All for the Winner” His performance in Portland Street Blues Is often credited as one of his best “Big sis is in trouble” “She has been kidnapped” But audience respect Chow much more than Uncle Tat Most people, by 1999 Are calling Chow The Godfather of comedy That’s a feel rank higher than “Uncle” Knowing this, watching him yell Chow Adds a deeper layer of meaning Because not only is Chow younger and more successful He also can’t really act Not for dramas Don’t get me wrong, Chow is a great comedic actor With great physical acting talent But unlike Jim Carrie, who has shown to have range With roles in The Truman Show and Eternal Sunshine Chow never displayed this type of talent He is incapable of more nuanced acting I suspect Chow himself understands this Hence why this line exists “Fuck” Don’t you talk about “acting” in front of me Throughout all the interviews Uncle Tat displays remarkable maturity and composure But everyone is human I wonder: when Tat was working with Chow Did he ever wonder… “Is this it?” “Is this how I peaked?” But the story goes a bit deeper than this The role of the coordinator The one played by Uncle Tat Was originally intended for Alex Man another well respected Hong Kong veteran actor Unlike Uncle Tat, who is popular Aand lives in the shadow of Chow Man was never popular He is skilled, don’t get me wrong He is a star But he was never a super star Supposedly the filming of the King of Comedy was delayed last minute But no one bothered to inform Alex Man After a few hours of waiting Alex Man got angry and left production entirely Sometimes, life imitates art Had he played a role It will be a veteran actor being angry towards someone who seemed to have less talent But in reality Man is not even important enough to be notified of the delay of the film shoot For those of you who don’t know I myself am a filmmaker I graduated from film school And have been dabbling at the fringe of the film industry since Doing motion graphics And assistant editing for documentaries making my own short films and sending them to film festivals it’s an industry that corrodes your ego Files down your arrogance and confidence Every day, I sit in front of my computer with my script open Thinking… is this it? And there are tens of thousands of us out there Sitting in the corner of a film set Dealing with coffees and garbage dumping Being extras that will appear in the film for five frames in total On the surface we are creating
dreams and fantasies for people to see But underneath, the industry is powered… By people with broken dreams Almost everyone on set is thinking… “Is this it?”

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