Last night I went to Asian Garden to meet with a Master, not only in Martial Arts, but in film making. He he had come to Boston around 1975 and left to get into the Hong Kong film industry in 1983 or so with Donnie Yen. His name is Mandy Chan.
"I've been all over the world and I've seen a lot... let me tell you, there are a lot of Dragon pearls and Dragons that have been spit out by Boston.. that have been a strong Dragon crossing the river. Don't even talk about Donnie Yen first... there a ton of people you haven't even heard of. Like John Tsang the Financial Secretary of Hong Kong.. he came out of here too! Did you know that?"
It turns out, there is a lot I don't know. Through that dinner conversation my eyes were opened to how much I didn't know about Chinatown, Kung Fu, Film Making, and hell even myself. That's why you should never be caught up in an idea that you know all there is. There is always a lot more to learn. You just have to come at it from a different angle. Mandy is an artist. And an artist will spit out 20 different angles you can come at something in one sentence. I'm still processing.
"Media is very powerful..You know Tiananmen square? When you see some of those photos, they recently let out the wide angle shot of those photos. The photo you see is someone's foot right in their face, but from the wide angle shot, the person with the foot in their face is holding a knife. That tells a completely different story doesn't it! Even if you are there taking pictures of the same event its how you tell that event."
"I'm telling you I have seen some crazy shit. Go home and look up what year Mao died." (It was 1976) "I was in China in this small inland village in 1989 a few months after Tiananmen Square. This village didn't have any communication with the outside world. Just one small radio. Most places didn't even have electric lights. The old people would come up to me and ask, 'How is Chairman Mao doing these days'" Holy shit. Now of course everyone's heard stories like this. Some places in the states where the black people did not know that slavery had ended because they were kept isolated. But I do get the sense that to know something or really understand it is different than just having heard of it.
"I don't believe anything the media is telling me. You can't. Because even if they are really covering the story, a picture can tell so many different stories."
Some of the stories were about Boston too. Mandy had gone to a bilingual school in the North End, the Michaelangelo.
"Nixon.... I remember I was little I didn't know what was going on.. but I heard what the adults said.The teachers were really mad. I mean they felt like they'd personally been screwed."
I began to see how shaped we are by our generation.
"So like you asked me about what I feel about that Fishball revolution?" He shrugged, "I don't know, because I'm not there. But I can tell you this. Let's go to the source first. Those kids protesting how old are they? 20's? When did Hong Kong go back to China? 1997. So how many years ago was that?
Now who was in Hong Kong before 97? What kind of people? What did they do when it was going back to China? A lot of them.. if they want freedom, go to America. That's your number one choice. But hey that costs money. $500,000.00 okay no problem go. You don't have that much? Okay Canada, $300,000.00 Still not enough money? Australia. Singapore. Phillipines, anywhere. So who stays? Either you don't have enough money or... you are so pissed of and stubborn, you stay and fight."
"Now after 1997, who came down to Hong Kong? Not just anyone from China. You have to have money to go in. You don't wait in line, you bribe your way in. People from China you are rich and want to raise their kids. They tell their kids that Hong Kong is the best, about freedom. Now those kids are raised, being told about freedom and Hong Kong everyday.. 20 years later.. now you have these protests, you see?"
"Let me ask you, I don't know anything about this situation, but I know that Hong Kong is now back t China. It's 2016. Do you think that in 2047 you will even hear the name of Hong Kong anymore? How about Shenzhen... expanded? Dung! Did you think about that?"
I hadn't. Mandy explained that sometimes he would no a person and they would say a few words and he would realize... that's why they are sitting there in the position they are in.
"I had the opportunity to have dinner in Europe with this Producer. He was my idol. He would show up to work and drink Cognac everyday. But let me tell you there was a reason why he was the producer. I had the opportunity to eat dinner in Europe. I say Europe because we were in Yugoslavia, which doesn't exist anymore. It was me, the producer, and a bunch of young Yugoslvian people. And I got the sense that these people were very well educated. It felt like just to get through high school they needed to know 6 pr 7 languages and not only the history of their country, but everyone elses. So when they see you, they don't see, 'Hey a China man!" and run scared or something They know your whole history. So anyway, they were talking this and that and saying all these things about Hong Kong about that. And they were pissing of the Producer. But he just said a few words... and shut them up.
You see over there the streets are very clean because at 5:00pm every day they wash it... everyday. So whatever they were saying about Hong Kong, the producer said, 'Oh yeah, you have a water shortage, and you are washing the street every day with Drinking water." Boom. silence. It was amazing. Before that the whole table of young students had a lot to say but after that... silence. I was like, 'Oh shit.'
Then he turns to one guy and says, "How much do you make a year?" he started to say something but the producer waved his hand, "You don't have to tell me how much you make a year. I can go to the market and buy a bag of vegetables and know how much you make in a year."
That's why he's the producer! He's never been to Yugoslavia. He didn't read about their history in a book. But he's been around. He's seen s much shit. You can't pull stuff with him."