2003 | Cantonese | 35mm | Color | 93min | Chinese Subtitle
Director: Johnnie To, Wai Ka-fai．Scriptwriter: Wai Ka-fai, Yau Nai-hoi, Au Kin-yee, Yip Tin-shing．Cinematographer: Cheng Siu-keung．Editor: Law Wing-cheong．Art Director: Bruce Yu．Costume: Bruce Yu, Stephanie Wong．Music: Cacine Wong．Sound : Martin Chappell, May Mok, Charlie Lo．Action: Yuen Bun
Cast: Andy Lau, Cecilia Cheung, Cheung Siu-fai
Producer: Johnnie To, Wai Ka-fai．Production: Milkyway Image．World Sales: Fortune Star Media
Throwing genre conventions to the wind, the team of Johnnie To and Wai Ka-fai merge Buddhist spiritualism with sharp suspense, cartoonish martial arts, and Andy Lau wearing an outrageous rubber muscle suit. Stripper and renegade monk Biggie possesses the power to see past lives. He helps the kind detective Yee solve a gruesome murder, but foresees her horrible karmic death. Can Biggie stop the wheel of karma and save Yee from a fate that she doesn’t deserve?
Date: 19/4 (Wednesday)
Venue: HK Science Museum Lecture Hall
Free admission for all screenings. Tickets are available to public on-site 30 minutes prior to each screening on a first-come, first served basis. Limit to one ticket per person.
Did you try to express your views on post-handover Hong Kong in Running on Karma ?
I’d thought of injecting these elements in the creative process, but I didn’t. I did try that when I was still working in television. There were scenes on the Cultural Revolution in Heaven’s Retribution (1990) and The Burning Rain (1991). It was taboo in the mainland. I also thought of making a film about Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong. That is no longer on my agenda. Running on Karma was more about life and karma than politics.
Did the SARS epidemic in 2003 influence Running on Karma ?
We wanted another story about bodybuilding because Love on a Diet (2001) was a box office success. We visited the Leshan Giant Buddha in Sichuan when we made Love for All Seasons (2003). Then we started preparing for Running on Karma. We made a body mold for Andy Lau. It was big and bald because he had to wrap up his hair for the mold. It reminded me of the Giant Buddha, thus the idea of a Buddhist monk was born. Then came the SARS epidemic and the project was suspended. When we were allowed to travel again, I went in search of locations in the mainland. The Beijing airport was quiet. No one was there and the shops were closed. So you see: the creative process of the film took place before the epidemic. SARS had a bigger influence on Fantasia (2004), which was preceded by a short film in the omnibus 1:99 (2003).
Are you a Buddhist? Did you just use it for the film?
I believe there’s a god, but I’m not a Buddhist. I read a lot of Buddhist scriptures and tried very hard to digest them before I put them in the film. Sometimes I have doubts myself. The Cantonese films on Sun Wukong (Monkey King) I watched as a child portrayed the Buddha as a god. But that was not how the biography of Buddha described him. I’m still trying to digest and understand these things.
Interview with Wai Ka-fai, Filmmaker in Focus, Wai Ka-fai