In the words of Howard Choy, “colonization is a continuous multi-hegemonic operation that takes place neither once nor twice, but thrice or more” (14). Indeed, we see that such is the case with the tiny port island of Hong Kong: in 1997, Hong Kong was reclaimed from Great Britain on the part of Mainland China; before that, in 1945, control of the island had been regained by the English after a three year period of Japanese occupation; before even that, the island was under the purview of imperialist China, only to be ceded to the English under the Treaty of Nanking in 1842. Quite simply put, the island of Hong Kong has seen a convoluted history in terms of government—or rather, it has seen a convoluted history in terms of colonization.
Even today, in the aftermath of its return to its motherland, Hong Kong cannot escape its history of being colonized. Its streets are named after famous English individuals, its signs are written in Chinese, and yet its people speak Cantonese. While certainly not the most frequently colonized of places (that title undoubtedly belongs to Africa), its very knotted history makes Hong Kong stand out when placed among other nations that have been labeled as “post-colonial”. Hong Kong, for some reason, refuses to fit the mold set up for post-colonial nations. Whether we consider this a factor of the Hong Kong identity, we must admit that is begs the question: can we truly consider Hong Kong to be the same post-colonial that we attribute to nations such as India and Africa if its edges are too rough and size too large to fit the post-colonial box? And what about the identity of Hong Kongers as a result? Post-colonialism does not leave national consciousness with the passage of a mere few decades; it seeps into the politics of the nation and the cultural sphere of the people; it comes to define a nation and its citizens over time. But, for a nation that tosses and turns under the mantle of post-colonial? How does Hong Kong’s art—specifically its cinema—reflect a national consciousness, reflect a societal confusion over Hong Kong’s schizophrenic post-colonial identity?