FEATURE FILMS MADE IN VANCOUVER
Prepared for Chuck Davis and The Greater Vancouver Book — June, 1995
[Published in 1997 by The Linkman Press]
By MICHAEL WALSH
[PART 18: IN OTHER WORDS]
THE GREATER VANCOUVER BOOK FEATURE FILM FESTIVAL
THIS IS YOUR PROGRAM guide to a series of 20 movie retrospectives. Together, they include all of the theatrical feature films made in Vancouver and in release as of June, 1995. (Our current program does not include the made-for-TV pictures.) Though we've tried to be as complete as possible, we've almost certainly missed a few. If you know of any, please let us know. [Readers of this website who wish to get in touch with additions or corrections can reach me by using the Reeling Back Contact Me button.]
Our notes on each picture include its title (and any alternate titles), its year of release, the director, leading players and a brief description.
Our show continues with . . .
PROGRAM 18. IN OTHER WORDS.
NOT EVERY FILM SHOT HERE speaks English. A cosmopolitan community, Vancouver attracts artists from across the country and over the sea who have come here to make movies for their home markets. In the 1990s, British Columbia took its place on the Pacific Rim as a production centre for Chinese films. Included among the non-English language features made in and around Vancouver are:
J'AI MON VOYAGE! (1973; d. Denis Héroux) with Dominique Michel, Jean Lefebvre, René Simard. Taking a comic look at Canada's "two solitudes," Québecois director Héroux tells the story of a French-speaking couple (Michel, Lefebvre) who set out with their kids on a cross-country trip when dad's job is relocated to Vancouver. Among the English Canadians they encounter along the way to the film's final scenes, shot in the West Coast metropolis, is hockey legend (and later Senator) Frank Mahovlich. Released in English as Enuff Is Enuff; also released as I've Had It.
LA MENACE [1977; co-w./d. Alain Corneau) with Yves Montand, Carole Laure, Marie Dubois. When his pregnant girlfriend (Laure) is implicated in in the death of his former lover (Dubois), a Bordeaux trucking company manager (Montand) brings suspicion upon himself and flees to Vancouver. A co-production with France, this mystery-thriller ends with chase scenes shot on B.C.'s Highway 99 in the mountains between Whistler and Lillooet. Released in English as Flashback; also released as The Threat.
RETURN ENGAGEMENT (1980; Tung Cho "Joe" Cheung) with Alan Tang, Carrie Ng. A Chinese gang leader (Tang) seeks vengeance on the Italian mafiosi who killed his wife (Ng) during a 1974 turf war in Vancouver. After serving 16 years in prison, he returns to Hong Kong in search of his daughter. Released in Chinese as Choi saan gong woo, this Hong Kong-produced crime thriller included a shootout filmed in the Pacific Central railway station.
VIRUS (1980; d. Kinji Fukasaku) with Sonny Chiba, Chuck Connors, Glenn Ford, George Kennedy. Intended as the Japanese film industry's answer to such big-budget Hollywood disaster epics as Earthquake, this all-star drama follows the fate of the 858 survivors of a global holocaust. B.C. backgrounds supplement the Antarctic footage, with Canadian performers such as Nicholas Campbell, Cec Linder, Ted Follows and Ken Pogue in showy supporting roles. Released in Japanese as Fukkatsu no hi.
BLACK CAT (1991; d. Stephen Shin) with Jade Leung, Simon Yum. Director Luc Besson's 1990 action classic La Femme Nikita was the obvious inspiration for this tale of a Chinese-American bad girl (Leung) who is captured, "killed" and reprogrammed by C.I.A. scientists as a black ops assassin. Vancouver locations substitute for New York and any place in the world that's not Hong Kong. Released in Chinese as Hei mao, it was followed a year later by . . .
BLACK CAT II (1992; d. Stephen Shin) with Jade Leung, Robin Shou, Zoltan Buday. On assignment in post-Soviet Russia, the C.I.A.'s computer-enhanced female asset (Leung) battles a mutant terrorist (Buday) under orders to kill President Boris Yeltsin. Director Shin returned to Vancouver to shoot this Hong Kong-financed sequel, released in Chinese as Hei mao zhi ci sha Ye Li Qin.
NEVER-ENDING SUMMER (1991; d. Lawrence Cheng) with Lawrence Cheng, Carol "Do Do" Cheng. Already established as a Hong Kong actor, Lawrence Cheng visited B.C. to make his directorial debut with this domestic relations comedy, the story of a Chinese accountant (Cheng) who arrives in Vancouver to find his wife living with a non-Asian. Complications ensue when he meets an eccentric Chinatown laundry manager (Carol Cheng, who is not related to Lawrence). Released in Chinese as Wu San Gui yu Chen Yuan Yuan.
SAVIOUR OF THE SOUL II (1992; d. David Lai, Kong Man Yun) with Andy Lau, Rosamund Kwan, Richard Ng. Vancouver doubles as Alaska in this supernatural fantasy about a Chinese dreamer (Lau) searching for the legendary beauty (Kwan) who sleeps in suspended animation in an ice cave, a woman for whom he will fight the King of Hell (Richard Ng). Though made by the same director, this Hong Kong martial arts feature has no narrative connection to 1991's Saviour of the Soul. Released in Chinese as Jiu er shen diao zhi: Chi xin qing chang jian.
SWALLOW IN THE RAIN (1992; d. David Lai, Kong Man Yun) with Tamara Guo, Farina Cheung. Betrayed by their Hong Kong lovers, a policewoman (Cheung) and a drug-addicted actress (Guo) join forces while fleeing for their lives in downtown Vancouver. Made by the Saviour of the Soul II team, this female martial arts thriller was released in Chinese as Chi luo kuang ben; also known as Women on the Run.
YOUNG OFFENDERS (1993; d. Elizabeth Wong Lo Tak) with Danny Wang, Emily Kwan. Before going on to a successful career as a Hong Kong-based television documentarist, Elizabeth Wong Lo Tak directed this B.C.-financed drama. Filmed in Vancouver, it is the story of a Taiwanese teen (Wang) living in the city with too much money and too little supervision who has the misfortune to cross some local Chinatown mobsters.
RUMBLE IN THE BRONX (1994; d. Stanley Tong) with Jackie Chan, Anita Mui. Infamous for scenes that include "the Bronx Mountains" in the background, this Hong Kong production starred genial martial artist Chan as a dutiful nephew who takes on the street gang causing trouble for his entrepreneurial uncle (Bill Tung). The occasional New York skyline shot notwithstanding, undisguised Vancouver locations are recognizable throughout. Released in Chinese as Hung fan kui.
The above is Part 18 of a 20-part restoration of a Greater Vancouver Book article by Michael Walsh originally published in 1997. For additional information on this archived material, please visit my FAQ.
Afterword: Postings in this Feature Film Festival series include:
Part 1 [Introduction & Vancouver Firsts]
Part 2 [God's Country]
Part 3 [Cybercity]
Part 4 [Documentary]
Part 5 [Youthquakes]
Part 6 [Lovely Couples]
Part 7 [Encore]
Part 8 [Self-Portraits]
Part 9 [Encore II]
Part 10 [Local Heroes]
Part 11 [Directorial Tribute - Jack Darcus]
Part 12 [The B-List]
Part 13 [Things that Go Bump in the Night]
Part 14 [Cabin Fever Dreams]
Part 15 [Law and Order]
Part 16 [Terminal City Comedy Club]
Part 17 [Man's Best Friends]
Part 18 [In Other Words]
Part 19 [Midnight Madness]
Part 20 [On the Road Again]
See also: The seven-part series "Feature Films Made In Vancouver and B.C." from The Vancouver Book published in 1976 — Part 1 [Introduction; the Silents]; Part 2 [Outside Vancouver, 1932-38]; Part 3 [Outside Vancouver, 1942-75]; Part 4 [Vancouver, 1932-68]; Part 5 [Vancouver, 1969-71]; Part 6 [Vancouver, 1972-75]; Part 7 [Miscellany & Sources].