aka Hei mei gui aka 黑玫瑰
Directed by Chor Yuen
Written by Hoh Bik-Gin
Welcome to a trip to some classic Cantonese cinema. Not only are we going to review Black Rose, but we’ll be hitting the sequel, The Spy With My Face, as well as one entry from the 1990’s, and an eventual rewrite of our review of Protege De La Rose Noire. Yes, that previous sentence will get edited as the other reviews appear here. Eventually. Maybe.
Black Rose was basically the beginning of the Jane Bond films. It did not start the strong female character/super hero genre, but popularized it to the point where Black Rose is known as the standard bearer of the genre. This blog entry going over some of the wonderful films featured on the SoftFilm blog features a cornucopia of films with strong female leads.
Connie Chan Po-Chu was born in 1947 and is the daughter of two Beijing opera stars (Chan Fei-nung and Kung Fan-hung) She was not only trained in classical opera style (specializing in male roles) but also trained in both Southern and Northern martial arts styles. Connie made her film debut in 1959’s The Scout Master, and became a breakout star in the 1960s. Her last film was 1972’s The Lizard (also her only film for Shaw Brothers and one of the few that still survives in color, The Spy With My Face was filmed in color even if it doesn’t seem to have survived that way.)
Unlike her fellow teen queen Josephine Siao, Connie Chan stepped out of the limelight after her retirement, though she does emerge from time to time in stage presentations on TV (much to the excitement of my in-laws, who spend a frightenly long time trying to capture just her performance from a TV special onto a DVDR despite barely knowing how to turn the computer on.) More information on Connie Chan can be found on Movie Fan Princess. The site is run by duriandave of SoftFilm, who also supplied me with the vcds used to review the two Black Rose films. Check her out in action in Lady Black Cat and The Furious Buddha’s Palm.
Nam Hung was born as Su Manmei. Her mother and sister were also stage actresses, but I don’t think they were in films. The stage name Nam Hung means “fame of the south”. She began stage performing in 1950 and moved to films in 1953. She set up the Rose Film Company in 1962 with future husband Chor Yuen (also the director of this film) She starred in many Chor Yuen and Chan Wan films, and was a coproducer of Black Rose and its sequel. She was also in the original House of 72 Tenants, which was remade and then both inspired Steve Chow’s Kung Fu Hustle. Nam Hung moved to tv in 1976.
Director Chor Yuen was born in 1934 as Cheung Bo-kin, the son of Cheung Wood-yau, a Cantonese cinema actor. After studying chemistry in college, Chor Yuen joined the cinema world, first as a screenwriter (under pen name Chun Yu) and then worked as assistant director to Chun Kim. His directorial debut was The Natural Son in 1959. He helmed all sorts of films over the years. Notable films include 1963’s Tear-laden Rose, 1968’s Winter Love, and 1968’s Young, Pregnant and Unmarried, a comedy capitalizing on the youth craze in Hong Kong (also starring Connie Chan). Chor Yuen joined Cathay in 1969 and started focusing on wuxia films. Then he moved to Shaw Brothers in 1971. Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan was one of his films there (he later remade it as Lust For Love Of A Chinese Courtesan) Besides the Rose Film Company with Nam Hung, Chor Yuen formed his own company Ligao Film in 1985
Patrick Tse Yin is probably best known to Western film fans as the evil guy in Shaolin Soccer, but he was a huge star in Cantonese film in the 1960s and is a pretty cool dude and leading man. But for people like me who were first exposed to him playing a jerk, we will always have that image stuck in the back of our minds when we see him play good guys. Patrick Tse Yin is the father of Nicholas Tse (seen here with his wife Cecilia Cheung in The Promise.)
The Black Rose series of films goes like so: The 1960’s had the first two entries, Black Rose and The Spy With My Face/Who is That Rose? in 1966. Then there was nothing until a revival in the 1990’s with homage films that are basically love stories to 1950s and 1960s Cantonese cinema. There are three films in this set, 1992’s 92 Legendary La Rose Noire (written and directed by Jeff Lau), 1993’s Rose, Rose, I Love You (directed by Jacky Pang and produced by Jeff Lau), and 1997’s Black Rose 2 (directed by Jeff Lau and Corey Yuen Kwai). The series was recently revived as a vehicle for the pop duo The Twins in 2004 for Protege de la Rose Noire. I doubt there will be any direct sequels to this due to the whole Edison Chen sex photo scandals which enveloped Twin Gillian Chung in its tentacles when she showed up naked online. Teresa Mo was the Black Rose in Protege, continuing the loose connections between the films (she was one of the apprentice Roses in 92 Legendary La Rose Noire.)
The VCDs we watched were without English subtitles, but we don’t need no stinking subtitles! And my lovely wife translated. So take that, not released on DVD film!