The Great War: Director's Cut
PRODS Jacqueline Liu, GHSH, Yan Yan Mak
CAM Jam Yau, Harry Lee, Amos Wong, Stanley Tam
EDS Wong Hoi, Yan Yan Mak
MUS Grasshopper, Softhard
PROD CO Dragonfly J Productions
Hong Kong’s Cantopop (Cantonese language pop music produced by the Hong Kong music industry) used to rule the East Asian pop-music universe. It’s still going strong locally. In an epic 2012 concert series, two “rival” Cantopop groups, Grasshopper and Softhard, filled the 12,000 seat HK Coliseum for 12 consecutive nights. Filmmaker Yan Yan Mak was there, recording the bands, engaging band members in surprisingly frank interviews, and following their fervent (and unexpectedly heterogeneous) fans.
Grasshopper, a hit 1990s band, are smooth singer-dancers: their outrageous costumes simultaneously imitate and send up late 70s glam with 80s outré fashions. Their knowingly emotional anthems to their city, their art and their celebrity speak directly to HKers souls. Softhard is more of a conceptual pop music comedy duo: Jan Lamb and Eric Kott, genius and dervish, celebrate and critique the pop culture that Grasshopper embodies. To put them together on stage in a faux-rivalry, a “great war” of two bands is both delightfully inspired and a bit crazy.
Yan Yan Mak’s sharply critical eye ensures that this is no behind-the-scenes hagiography, Mak is after something more complex: the nature of Hong Kong society, its changes since HK’s return to China in 1997: the proud, joyful assertion of local identity, the continued effervescence of that uniquely synthesizing “Hong Kong spirit” that the bands and their fans embody.
— Shelly Kraicer