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“The King of Kings” Hong Kong Drama: Bringing Back Classic Comedy in 2024

With the popularity of the Hong Kong drama “The King of Kings” on TVB Jade Channel and Biduidui APP, Hong Kong-style comedy has once again returned to the audience’s attention. As a classic Hong Kong IP, “Song Shijie” was created by Stephen Chow in the 1990s as the classic comedy film “The Judge of the Dead”, and was later adapted into the costume comedy “Song Shijie”. This 2024 version of “The King of Kings” continues the traditional Hong Kong-style comedy style with absurd plots, nonsensical dialogue, and joking and innuendo, while boldly adding innovative content such as fascinating and interesting detective stories and the creation of group portraits of young detective teams. Trying to be close to the aesthetics of today’s young people. However, after the show was aired, audience reviews were mixed. Some viewers recognized that it inherited the characteristics of Hong Kong-style comedy, and the shooting format also broke TVB’s traditional style; some viewers said that Song Shijie’s nonsense was greater than reality, and the jokes lacked new ideas.

As the “old partner of Stephen Chow” well-known to mainland audiences, director and actor Lin Zicong with more than 20 years of comedy experience has decided to return to TVB to direct “The King of Kings”. In an interview with a Beijing News reporter, he admitted that Hong Kong costume comedy works have not been seen for a long time. He has thought for a long time, why has no one taken pictures of this kind of subject for so long? Is it because today’s audiences don’t like Hong Kong-style costume comedies? Or is there a bottleneck that is difficult to break through in costume comedy?

“To be honest, there was some pressure at the time. If you want to say that I (filming “The King of Kings”) wanted to give Hong Kong-style comedy a new direction, I really didn’t dare to take it. But I have feelings in my heart, and I really I really like Hong Kong-style costume comedies in the past. I hope that through “The King of Kings”, the audience can recall this type of work again. The happiness it conveys is not too complicated, but happiness is actually very simple.”

Lin Zicong, one of the leading actors in “The King of Kings”.

Today’s Hong Kong-style comedy needs to be relevant to young people

Beijing News:What was your biggest feeling while filming “The King of Kings”?

Lin Zicong:tremble with fear. Because to be honest, for TVB, the scale of this drama may be a bit “out of line”. For example, the content, interpretation techniques, and shooting techniques in the drama are all different from previous TVB dramas. But fortunately, TVB does not restrict our creation and allows us to express ourselves as much as we want. We hope that the audience will feel fresh after watching it.

Beijing News:What new feelings do you have this time working with TVB’s current young actors?

Lin Zicong:They also treat me like a young person. Their energy can bring new excitement to people like us who have been in the industry for thirty years. And one of the great things about working with TVB actors is that they never get tired. No matter how you shoot, how many days, or how many hours you shoot, they will never say they are tired, and even after the work is over, they will never feel tired. Don’t go home, stay at the scene. I said, why don’t you go back? They said they wanted to see what other people were filming like. To be honest, this sense of involvement is something I rarely encounter when filming outside.

Beijing News:You just mentioned a new collision with young people. What do you mean specifically?

Lin Zicong:For example, the rhythm and world view of young people. Their current understanding of comedy is something that all of us filming should absorb. You need to know what young people are thinking, what problems exist in their lives, and what makes them happy…these are our sources of inspiration.

Jimmy Lam and Stephen Chow collaborate in “Kung Fu”.

Beijing News:You have collaborated with director Stephen Chow on Hong Kong comedy films such as “Kung Fu” and “Yangtze River No. 7”. You have also directed and filmed many comedies from the Mainland and Hong Kong. What do you think are the differences between today’s comedies and those of the past? Have you ever thought about how to continue Hong Kong-style comedy while attracting more audiences?

Lin Zicong:Comedy today is indeed very different from before. Maybe the audience has watched more film and television works and has higher requirements. In the past, our comedies might be purely performances, with some special effects added to match the entire shooting method. Well, now that everyone is used to spending one or two hours a day watching short videos and watching hundreds of them every day, it’s even harder for us to make comedies now. In order to give the audience a new sense of comedy, we must create content that is different from what everyone usually comes into contact with, and we must amplify these; we can no longer do those comedy points that we often see.

But I think the fundamentals are still the same. We still have to start from the script. Especially for Hong Kong-style comedies, there may not be much joy in the dialogue, but there will be more joy in the plot.

Beijing News:The outside world actually has expectations for “The King of Kings” to revive Hong Kong-style costume comedy. Are you also shouldering such a task?

Lin Zicong:To be honest, if you want to say that I give Hong Kong-style comedy a new direction, I really don’t dare to do it. Of course, I have feelings in my heart. I really like the old Hong Kong-style costume comedies. Before filming, I also specifically checked when was the last time there was such a costume comedy? Nearly 20 years. To be honest, it’s a bit stressful. Why not for so long? Is it because today’s audience doesn’t like costume comedies? Or is it that costume comedy has reached a bottleneck that it cannot break through?

Later, I re-watched some black-and-white costume comedies from the 1950s, and brought back some memories from them, or it could be said that they paid homage or copied from them. I found that I was very happy watching it, and this kind of happiness may have been forgotten by contemporary people, or maybe everyone’s life is busy and complicated, and they come into contact with many things, people, and short videos every day, so they may forget many very basic things that make people happy. , happy place. So I brought back those feelings and found for everyone the simplest source of happiness. In “The King of Kings”, I dare not say whether we can find a new Hong Kong-style comedy path, but I hope that through “The King of Kings”, the audience can recall this type of work again. The happiness it conveys is not too much. It’s a complicated technique, but happiness is actually very simple.

Wang Haoxin and Yao Ziling went all out to act and surprised people

Beijing News:It has been many years since you left TVB. What is the opportunity for you to return to TVB to film a drama with Zhang Tat-ming (producer of “The King of Kings”)?

Lin Zicong:I have always wanted to film the story of King Song Shijie. I went to talk to Daming first. After all, “The King of Songs” is his masterpiece. I asked him what regrets he had? Is there anything else you want to enrich? Later, I met Mr. Eric Tsang by chance. Mr. Zeng said that since we have this idea, we might as well leave this opportunity to TVB for cooperation. We seemed to hit it off after only talking for an hour.

Beijing News:The work “The King of Songs” has been published for 27 years. Why do you think this work, or the story of King Song Shijie, still has the value of being renovated today?

Lin ZicongI have always wanted to be a costumed character who has a sense of humor and a very unique worldview. King Song Shijie (in Hong Kong film and television) is a very important character who was once loved by everyone. I think he is the best choice.

Beijing News:What are the inheritances in the process of reshaping classics? What innovations?

Lin Zicong:As for the inheritance, first of all, the male protagonist must be handsome; secondly, the character Song Shijie must maintain his unique world view; of course, the most important thing is comedy. The innovative part is because Daming and I both believe that Song Shijie’s ability lies not only in his eloquence in court, but also in his unique way of dealing with people and his thorough vision when facing some inexplicable cases. So this time we tried to explore other abilities in him. Including whether the inspiration from people around him also helps him grow more. So this “The King of Zhuang” is actually a bit like the prequel of “The King of Zhuang, Song Shijie”, what kind of state he was in before he became the king.

Lin Zicong both directed and acted in this play.

Beijing News:What challenges does it present to you to both direct and act?

Lin Zicong:I’m used to it, but it still feels busy. Many times I have already agreed on how to shoot on set, but I often find that the actor who is not ready yet is myself. I have not yet put on my headgear or changed my clothes. When I was acting opposite Mr. Chen Haomin, he would often remind me, ‘Why did you say my dialogue? ‘(Laughs) So it’s difficult to switch to different positions when filming. Maybe it would be easier to be more “schizophrenic”.

Beijing News:Briefly comment on what satisfies you most about the two leading actors, Wang Haoxin and Yao Ziling.

Lin Zicong:What we are most afraid of when making comedies is that the actors are not in good enough shape to risk their lives, but all the leading actors in our dramas are able to do this. Especially Wang Haoxin and Yao Ziling, they may have had the “idol halo” of beauties and handsome guys in the outside world. It’s really not easy to get rid of this kind of halo and let them go all out to act in a comedic way, but they can do it without any baggage. This is what I am most excited about.

Beijing News reporter Zhang He

Editor Tong Na

Proofread by Li Lijun

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