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Film Review: The Greatest Civil War on Earth 南北和 (1961) - Hong Kong

Andrew Chan 1960s The Greatest Civil War on Earth

The Greatest Civil War on Earth 南北和 (1961) - Hong Kong

Reviewed by Andrew Chan (Film Critics Circle of Australia)


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Trailing back to 1960s, we get a delightful comedy that voices out the obvious tensions between Northern Mandarin and the Southern Cantonese background in Hong Kong. These are all relevant tensions that remains extremely realistic even by modern day Hong Kong. This is the first film of the Northern and Southern trilogy that became one of the biggest box office hits of the year. Leung Sing-por and Liu Enjia are big stars in their own rights, one from Cantonese films and the other from Mandarin films. It is this merge of two very different cultures that allows the comic duo to get the best out of each other equally plumb self.


Leung Sing-por stars as the old fashioned Cantonese dad and tailor shop owner with a long traditional brand. Liu Enjia encapsulates the Mandarin speaking new tailor who opens a shop next to Leung and ends up living in the same apartment as Leung as well. Culture clash ensures as their respective sons and daughters (Cheung Ching, Kitty Ting Hao, Christine Pai Lu-ming) date each other further adding to the comedy and tensions.


What makes this film stand the test of time is largely due to the direct dialogue and the still relevant culture clash between the Mainlanders and existing Hong Kongers. It’s interesting to witness a time in the 60s where it is taken with laughs and comedy with the tensions only a drawing point. Director Wong Tin-lam (Wong Jing’s late father) captures the spirit and chemistry on-screen particularly well as all situations are played out as expected yet with a delightful tone and manner. Watching this film almost 60 years later, remains a fascinating look in 1960s Hong Kong cinema and livelihoods.


I rated it 8/10

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