Nomad (Director’s Cut)

烈火青春 (Liht fo ching cheun)

Hong Kong, 1982, 94’, Cantonese
Restored 2023
Directed by: Patrick Tam
Screenplay: Chiu Kang-chien, Kam Ping-hing, Joyce Chan, John Chan, Eddie Fong, Patrick Tam
Photography (color): Bill Wong, David Chung, Peter Ngor
Editing: Cheung Kwok-kuen
Art Direction: William Chang, Joe Hau 
Music: Violet Lam
Producers: Dennis Yu, Jeff Lau
Cast: Leslie Cheung (Louis), Pat Ha (Kathy), Kent Tong (Pong), Cecilia Yip (Tomato), Stuart Ong (Shinsuke), Wai Yee-yan (Bean Cake)

Date of First Release in Territory: November 26th, 1982 


Hong Kong New Wave luminary Patrick Tam turned his attention to the youth of Hong Kong in his 1982 feature Nomad, an experimental pop creation now returning to cinemas with restored footage and a director’s cut. 
Four young friends make up the core of the picture. Louis (Leslie Cheung) is a wealthy young man seen idling at home, lounging around town and working at a record store. He stumbles into a relationship when he meets Tomato (Cecilia Yip) in a restaurant. There she’s ignoring a suitor, Mr B, on a phone while struggling to speak with one Mr A on another line. When Tomato tries to visit Mr A afterwards and he sends her packing, Louis happens to be there in his car and soon she invites him into bed at a love hotel.
Meanwhile, Louis’ Japanophile friend Kathy makes advances on lifeguard and taxi driver Pong (Kent Tong). On their first encounter at a swimming pool, Kathy teases Pong from his perch before tearing off his swimsuit and running away. When the two meet another day, attempts to get frisky in Pong’s flat are interrupted so the pair hit the streets and make love on a moving tram instead. 
As the four drift along in life, it emerges that Kathy also has a boyfriend in Shinsuke (Stuart Ong), who turns up in Hong Kong as a deserter from the Japanese Red Army and is hiding from members of the terrorist group. Louis meanwhile suggests they head to new shores aboard his father’s ship Nomad, which regularly sets sail for Arabia.
Much of the enduring interest in Nomad stems from its early screen role by Leslie Cheung. And while that’s an undeniable attraction – his fresh-faced performance is filled with youthful charm and beautifully shot – Tam’s film also holds up for its daring direction, sharp writing and uninhibited performances. Influenced by the cinema of Godard and Bresson, among others, Tam applied his own meticulous approach to form in Nomad, with highly specific choices of colour and framing contributing to the movie’s structure. As a youth film, Nomad reflects the mindset of young people living for the moment – there’s no backstory aside from noting the death of Louis’ mother – and highlighting their distance from adult society. Tam’s refreshing depiction of love and sex also stands out, as too do the violent jolts appearing late in the piece. 
Nomad’s history of controversy made it a prime candidate for restoration. The movie found trouble right from the start when moral guardians threw a fit after the initial midnight screenings. Appalled by the idea of young people making love on the night they first meet, the notion of Kathy so casually seeing two men and, of course, that tram scene, numerous education organisations and school principals together urged the city’s number two official to send Nomad back for censorship. Eventually the film returned to cinemas with risqué shots gone (and many years later a censored version was issued on DVD too). The new director’s cut, using footage restored in 4K from the negatives by Hong Kong-based iST Company Limited, reinstates shots removed from the two love scenes and a hotel attack as well as includes an opening sequence with Pong’s family that used to only appear in one of Nomad’s two known censored versions. Until recently, the only screening copy of Nomad’s uncensored version was a terribly battered print. With footage now returned and the film cleaned up, viewers can appreciate the screen classic afresh as Tam intends it to look.


Patrick Tam

A key figure in the Hong Kong New Wave, Patrick Tam joined the film industry via broadcaster TVB, where he directed 30 short films in the mid-1970s and gained attention among for his bold and experimental approaches. His first feature as director was the wuxia film The Sword in 1980, and he followed it with two other New Wave classics, Love Massacre and Nomad, over the next two years. After 1989’s My Heart Is That Eternal Rose, Tam stepped away from directing, opting instead to edit the work of other filmmakers and taking up teaching in Malaysia and Hong Kong. Tam returned as a director in 2006 with the award-winning After This Our Exile.



1980 – The Sword 
1981 – Love Massacre 
1982 – Nomad 
1984 – Cherie 
1987 – Final Victory 
1988 – Burning Snow 
1989 – My Heart Is That Eternal Rose
2006 – After This Our Exile 

Tim Youngs
Film director:  Patrick TAM
Year: 1982
Running time: 93'
Country: Hong Kong
28/04 - 09:00 AM
Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da Udine
28-04-2023 09:00 28-04-2023 10:33Europe/Rome Nomad Far East Film Festival Teatro Nuovo Giovanni da UdineCEC Udine