Hong Kong Crime Films

I am pleased to announce the publication of my book Hong Kong Crime Films: Criminal Realism, Censorship and Society, 1947-1986 (Edinburgh University Press, 2023).


Hong Kong Crime Films is the first book detailing the post-war history of the genre before the release of John Woo’s A Better Tomorrow (1986), the film that put Hong Kong action-crime on the global map. Focusing on what it calls the mode of ‘criminal realism’ in the crime film, the book shows how depictions of Hong Kong’s social reality (including crime) were for decades anxiously policed by colonial censors, and how crime films tended (and still tend) to confound and transgress critical definitions of realism.

Drawing on extensive archival research, Hong Kong Crime Films covers several neglected topics in the study of Hong Kong cinema, such as the evolving generic landscape of the crime film prior to the 1980s, the influence of colonial film censorship on the genre, and the prominence and contestation of “realism” in the local history of the crime film.


Introduction: Criminal Realism

Part I: The Generic Landscape of the Post-War Hong Kong Crime Film, 1947-1969

  1. Gangsters and Unofficial Justice Fighters: Realist Lunlipian versus Action-Adventure Films
  2. Detectives and Suspense Thrillers: Remaking Hitchcock in Hong Kong

Intermezzo: Censorship of Cinematic Crime and Violence in Colonial Hong Kong

Part II: The Modern Hong Kong Crime Film, Criminal Realism and Hong Kong Identity, 1969-1986

  1. A New Form of Criminal Realism
  2. Crime Films and Hong Kong Identity
  3. The New Wave, Critical Discourse and Deepening Localisation

Afterword: The Uncertain Present and Future of Criminal Realism in Hong Kong

The book can be ordered at https://edinburghuniversitypress.com/book-hong-kong-crime-films.html. Use the promo code NEW30 for a 30% discount.

Posted by: Kristof Van den Troost k.vandentroost@cuhk.edu.hk

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