Thursday, October 08, 2009

VHS memories

Back when I was madly watching every Hong Kong film I could get my hands on and scribbling reviews for my zine, Asian Eye, I would trek out to Chinatown East and rent VHS tapes from China Book Store. The back of the store was crammed full of video boxes and in the years that I went, I only ran into other gweilos once. And sure enough, one of them had a copy of my zine jammed in their back pocket. I slowly stopped going as the HK industry started into its decline and VCDs/DVDs took over as the way to stay abreast of the scene.

Last spring as my girlfriend and I were biking through that area, I decided to show her one of the sources for my fountain of my HK knowledge. Luckily my obsessive hobbies are an amusement to her. I guess I shouldn't have been surprised with what I saw when we stepped into the shop - all the VHS long since gone. Bums me out because they had so many that have not been released onto DVD. What did remain of their stock was being sold - $2 for a bag of 8 tapes! We grabbed a much and went through them as some of the tapes had no English on them. 60% were duds (educational or business or dull mainland stuff with no subs), but did score the following: Ronny Yu's China White, the sleazy Red to Kill, Dennis Yu's The Beasts, the Sammo Hung produced sci-fi film Final Test and others. Only just stated to pop them into the VCR now that I have some time and delighting in the mucked up tracking and finding wild trailers packed at the end of the feature. Enjoy thinking back to when I first stumbled upon these images and how fresh and exciting they were. Pardon me while I wallow in nostalgia for a bit... wait a minute - guess that is all I ever do on this blog!


Mark Ferguson said...

I just dug out 8 boxes of vhs out of storage today, tons of kung fu films that I have to check to see if they are on dvd, if not then I'll probably end up putting some of them on ebay. I bought some from you long ago including the Angela Mao film The Association which I discovered is a remake of Hanzo The Razor - The Snare. I don't believe that it is on dvd.

Kingwho? said...

Colin, great post. I still look out for Hong Kong VHS. Like you it's the format I started watching HK movies on and where my obsession began. It started with those $40 a pop Tai Seng tapes. I have a few hundred HK movies on VHS mostly bought in lots from EBAY. I was recently in Boston and visited their Chinatown. I found a rental store that still rented VHS. I asked if they were willing to sell their tapes but they refused. It ruined my day. Tai Seng, Ocean Shores, World Video, Pan-Asia, Rainbow Audio & Video.... Still my favorite format for HK cinema.

Anonymous said...

I love VHS. I still have a player
given to me towards the end
of VHS's reign in my cabinet.

Someday I will put it together
and play my VHS tapes again.

Charlie Kondek said...

Man, I was the same way. I remember one place we would go for movies and we asked the patroness if a certain movie was subtitled. Much fumbling of English ensued and in the end she assured us it was subtitled. We got it home and watched and she was right - subtitles, in another Asian language (I think another form of Chinese and Vietnamese).


we can't forget our roots lol i just moved and had to lug about 20 boxes of vhs,vcd and laser discs out so i had a chance to look my collection over all at one sitting for the first and most likely the last time. e bay is calling hehe. anyways nice post its nice to know i'm not the only one that still digs for HK films on old formats