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JULY 8 – AUG. 20
It’s not just Americans who find the Japanese oddly compelling. So do the filmmakers of Hong Kong, to judge from the Freer’s fourth annual survey of recent HK movies. The series begins with Hitman (Thursday, July 8, and Friday, July 16, at 7 p.m.), in which kung-fu sensation Jet Li (hero of Black Mask and villain of Lethal Weapon 4) plays a would-be assassin on a from-beyond-the-grave assignment for a ruthless, deceased Japanese businessman; despite the homicidal theme and some trademark Li action, the film is mostly lighthearted. Another Japanese stock character appears in Moonlight Express (Sunday, July 25, at 2 p.m.), which skillfully jumbles action, humor, and fated love: A hyper-romantic Japanese woman is both disturbed and thrilled to meet an HK undercover cop (Leslie Cheung) who could be the twin of her recently killed fiance. In Love Generation Hong Kong (Friday, July 23, at 7 p.m.), an HK businessman and his wife visit Japan, only to meet his old girlfriend and her fiance. The festival’s diverse lineup also includes Ordinary Heroes (Friday, Aug. 6, at 7 p.m.), a film about a crusading priest by Ann Hui, an HK director best known for socially conscious dramas; Beast Cops (Friday, Aug. 13 at 7 p.m.), an HK hit about cops who cross the line into brutality while battling the city’s gangs; and Dragon Town Story (Friday, Aug. 20 at 7 p.m., pictured), a Chinese “western” about a vengeance-seeking woman that’s more persuasive than most HK period movies. At the Freer Gallery of Art’s Meyer Auditorium, 12th & Jefferson Drive SW. Free. (202) 357-3200. (Mark Jenkins)