The 4th Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards

  • Best Film: Full Alert
  • Best Director: Fruit Chan (Made in Hong Kong)
  • Best Screenplay: Chan Hing-kar (Task Force)
  • Best Actor: Lau Ching-wan (Full Alert)
  • Best Actress: Wu Chien-lien (Eighteen Springs)
  • Films of Merit:
    Made in Hong Kong

    Happy Together
    Task Force
    Eighteen Springs
    Walk In
    A Chinese Ghost Story -- the Tsui Hark Animation
    Too Many Ways to be Number One


For the fourth straight year, it took the members of the Hong Kong Film Critics Society more than six hours of contentious debate and discussions to come up with its list of winners for the year 1997. The meeting took place on 18 January, 1998 and winners were announced for Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actor and Best Actress. The presentation ceremony was held at Planet Hollywood on 12 February.

The decision for Best Actor boiled down to a choice between Lau Ching-wan of Full Alert and Anthony Wong of Armageddon. Lau's interpretation of his part is a departure from the traditional persona of a cop and his performance is marked by an explosiveness at once restrained and calibrated. Wong puts total trust in his character, putting his personal stamp onto the role while his spontaneous approach draws out the best in costar Andy Lau. In the final tally, Lau won out with a slim margin of two votes.

For Best Actress, Wu Chien-lien of Eighteen Springs ran away with the honor. Only Karen Mok of Litter on the Breeze and Sammi Cheng of Killing Me Tenderly gave Wu any competition. Mok's sensuous performance brings the second half of her film to life and Cheng's charismatic presence is backed up by a natural acting ability, but it was Wu who won the members' votes. She tackles her character as a woman who is soft on the outside but strong on the inside with subtlety and refinement, making a difficult role look easy.

Best Screenplay goes to Task Force, written by Chan Hing-kar. It is a script that eschews mainstream linear narrative, successfully blending together elements from different genres and creating a unique emotional dimension where reality and fantasy co-exist. Task Force received overwhelming support from Society members, with the only challenge coming from Full Alert.

The category for Best Director drew the most debate. Votes for Fruit Chan of Made in Hong Kong, Wong Kar-wai of Happy Together and Ringo Lam of Full Alert were deadlocked in three rounds of voting; only when polling was postponed after the Best Film decision was the tie finally broken. Chan's creative drive comes through touchingly in his film and his determined spirit of independent production won out, beating Wong by only two votes.

The same three films were again the leading contenders for Best Film, with Full Alert winning by a large margin over Made in Hong Kong after Happy Together was edged out in an earlier round. Director Ringo Lam reached new heights with his dynamic action scenes and his guerilla filmmaking captures the vitality of Hong Kong cinema in all its intense glory. The film's depiction of the internal struggles and external pressure faced by the police force takes on an additional resonance during its run in the summer of '97.

Nine films were picked as Films of Merit. They are:

  • Made in Hong Kong: Rare expression of energy and compassion for Hong Kong films in its portrait of frustrated youth and life in the projects.
  • Lifeline: Cinema at its purest. The determination and professionalism of the film's firemen protagonists mirror that of the film's makers.
  • Happy Together: You can take a guy out of Hong Kong but you can't take Hong Kong out of him. Totally original approach in its essaying of 1997 sensibilities.
  • Task Force: Everyday treatment of anti-heroism, with flesh-and-blood portrayal of characters major and minor.
  • Eighteen Springs: Elegant filmmaking a result of relief from historical burdens and liberal adaptation of Eileen Cheng.
  • Walk In: Creative subversions of genre conventions and ingenious play on star personas.
  • A Chinese Ghost Story -- the Tsui Hark Animation: Leads Hong Kong into a new era of computer animation while holding onto Tsui Hark's persistent concerns with the 1997 issue.
  • Too Many Ways to be Number One: Taking the conventions of gangster films to an absurd extreme and a brilliant open-ended conclusion.
  • Armageddon: A fantstic rendition of Hong Kong's global role and a bold reaction to the challenge of Hollywood with an original blend of mysticism and science fiction.