Tsui Hark receives Lifetime Achievement Award at 2011 New York Asian Film Festival

Just before the screening of “The Blade” at the New York Asian Film Festival, “Yakuza Weapon” actor Arata Yamanaka ducked into the theater – where Korean directors Ryoo Seung-Wan and Lee Joo-Ik had also taken their seats.  Meanwhile, across the hall at a reception, “Milocrorze: A Love Story” director Yoshimasa Ishibashi waited amidst a small crowd for the man responsible for “The Blade” to appear.

The palpable contagion surrounding famed Hong Kong director Tsui Hark’s (徐克) appearances at the Film Society of Lincoln Center could not be contained, even amongst the fellow esteemed special guests who gladly sacrificed sightseeing time for Tsui time.  On July 11, Tsui was honored with the Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award between showings of “The Blade” and “Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame.”  The honor represented a full circle of sorts for both Tsui and Subway Cinema, the film collective who runs the New York Asian Film Festival (NYAFF), now in its 10th year.  Before the NYAFF was born, Subway Cinema ran several retrospectives, one of which was a four-day, eight-film run for Tsui in 2001.  This year, the NYAFF screened four films; in addition to the previously mentioned titles, “Dragon Inn” (which Tsui produced and co-directed) and the 1983 special effects extravaganza “Zu: Warriors From the Magic Mountain” also showed in 35mm glory.

Tsui’s own ties to New York City span an additional two decades.  New York was the birthplace of his film career, he said at a reception hosted by the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, and he served as an assistant to a documentary filmmaker (Christine Choy) while paying the bills by working as a news reporter for a daily newspaper in Chinatown, where he lived at the time.  Onstage, longtime mentor and collaborator Patrick Lung Kong (龍剛) presented Tsui with his award, addressing the crowd with several humorous stories of how Tsui’s big cinematic dreams often led to big budgets and big teams.

True to form and not one to rest on his laurels, Tsui has a couple of major projects in the pipeline.  “The Flying Swords of Dragon Gate,” starring Jet Li and Zhou Xun, is scheduled to be released in December and will be the first wu xia film shot entirely in 3-D.  A prequel to “Detective Dee” is reportedly in the works and will also be shot in 3-D.

Video: Tsui Hark (徐克) – 2011 New York Asian Film Festival Q&A and reception

video by Yuan-Kwan Chan / Meniscus Magazine