“Project A”
Immerse in an exhilarating bike chase.

In the early 1990s, China had a completely different landscape compared to today. During the morning and evening rush hours, one could witness the famous “bicycle rush hour” that was synonymous with China at the time. Many people used bicycles for commuting, creating a breathtaking sight of thousands of people riding the same roads. Moreover, since most bicycles were of the same model and color, there was a sense of harmony. Brands like “Fenghuang” and “Yongjiu” from Shanghai were quite popular. These bicycles were tough and sturdy, serving as the essential means of transportation to support people’s daily lives.

Indeed, bicycles played a significant role in Hong Kong films of that era. They must have been a familiar mode of transportation for the people. One of Jackie Chan’s masterpieces, “Project A” (1983), also featured memorable bicycle scenes.

“Project A” is set in British-ruled Hong Kong, where the police, including Jackie Chan’s character who is part of the Marine Police, are ordered to eliminate pirates. However, they end up teaming up with a cunning thief (Sammo Hung Kam-Bo) to embark on a pirate-busting mission, making it an unbeatable “entertainment” film.

When Jackie is captured by the rival Land Police, he manages to escape by stealing a bicycle. This marks the beginning of a thrilling bicycle chase, with the pursuing police also on bicycles. Jackie navigates through narrow alleys of the old town, using bamboo sticks and ladders as weapons and even employing the bicycle itself to fend off the police, ultimately outwitting them and making his escape.

The scene, lasting only about 3 minutes, is so addictive that you can’t help but watch it repeatedly. Even when revisiting it now, it evokes elements of Chaplin and Keaton’s comedy, combined with precisely calculated timing and breathtaking parkour stunts that leave you in awe.

Back in those days, many children in Asia probably got hurt trying to imitate the action. While we can’t imitate car stunts (that would be illegal), we can certainly try to imitate the bicycle action. These childhood memories might have had an impact on our love for bicycles. When riding through narrow alleys on a bicycle, those joyful memories from the past suddenly come rushing back.

Text_Hideki Inoue

I am from Amagasaki City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. I work as a writer and editor. My hobbies include hot baths, skiing, and fishing. Although I have no personal connection, I am independently conducting research on Shiga Prefecture. I prefer an active fishing style called “RUN & GUN,” which involves moving around actively instead of staying in one place. I am planning to purchase a car to transport my bicycle to adopt this style, which might seem a bit counterproductive.

Illusutration_Michiharu Saotome

Life is beautiful, and that is all.

For a certain generation, Wim Wenders is a special figure. During the era when art-house cinemas had a significant cultural impact, his films were considered “must-see movies.” Following the success of “Paris, Texas” (1985) and “Wings of Desire” (1987), Wenders’ works such as “The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick,” “Alice in the Cities,” and “Kings of the Road” were repeatedly re-released. While not necessarily fervent, Wenders’ films were quietly embraced. The influence he has had on contemporary filmmakers and visual artists is immeasurable (film students in Japan were only making road movies in the narrow confines).

#Wim Wenders
“Izakaya Choji”
The coolness of Ken-san riding a bicycle on the slopes of Hakodate.

When I was traveling through Hokkaido by train, there was a peculiar announcement. It warned us to be careful because the name of the next station had changed for a drama shoot. The atmosphere in the train buzzed with excitement. It was a popular drama set in Furano, Hokkaido. The train arrived at the station, but we passed what seemed to be the film crew. Then, in the corner of the platform, I saw a tall man. Even though he had a hat pulled down low, I immediately recognized him as Ken Takakura. Perhaps he had come to visit the filming location of an old friend (Kunie Tanaka). Acknowledging our gaze, Ken-san shyly raised his hand in greeting. It was an overwhelming coolness. Since then, although not from the same generation, I started watching films starring Ken Takakura.

#Cinema #Column
“Kids Return”
Keep pedaling towards the darkness ahead.

Director Takeshi Kitano’s works are often associated with yakuza films, perhaps due to the influence of movies like “Violent Cop” and “OUTRAGE.” However, looking at his lineup, it’s evident that he has produced a variety of styles, including “A Scene at the Sea,” “Kikujiro no Natsu,” and “Zatoichi,” amidst his violent works. Director Takeshi Kitano, along with comedian Beat Takeshi, is capable of portraying both tranquility and dynamism, representing two extremes. Among his diverse range of works, “Kids Return” (1996), which focuses on boxing, stands out as a unique piece. Depending on the viewer, generation, and background, the interpretation of the main themes, such as sports films, youth dramas, comedies, tragedies, and yakuza films, can vary significantly.

#Kids Return