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Department of English, NTNU


In this paper the author compares Hong Kong filmmaker Johnnie To’s (杜琪峯) formal articulation of urban space in his internationally celebrated crimefilms with that in his locally popular romantic comedies. Drawing from recentscholarship on urban space in Hong Kong, Chinese, and broader East Asiancinema, he establishes that To’s films in both genres hinge on spatialrelationships that are specific to rapidly forming metropolises. However,through close analyses of the crime films Expect the Unexpected (非常突然Feichang turan, 1998) and Breaking News (大事件 Da shijian, 2004) and theromantic comedies Turn Left, Turn Right (向左走‧向右走 Xiangzuo zou,xiangyou zou, 2003) and Don't Go Breaking My Heart (單身男女 Danshennannu, 2011), he contends that To’s crime films depict these spatialrelationships within a framework of spatial continuity, while his romanticcomedies do so within a framework of spatial fragmentation. These twoframeworks play into the two genres’ separate dramatic needs: fatalisticconfrontation for the crime films vs. delayed reconciliation in the romanticcomedies. However, To uses these spatial frameworks within the two genresto explore the ways that urban design can either thwart or facilitate encountersbetween the inhabitants of a global city.