Archive for the ‘Countries’ Category


Nang Nak is a romantic tragedy and horror film directed by Nonzee Nimibutr in 1999 through Buddy Film and Video Production Co. in Thailand. It features the life of a devoted ghost wife and the unsuspecting husband.

I must say as much as it was touching it was def eerie…


The film is set in 1996, when the real volleyball team competed and won the national championships in Thailand. The two main characters, Mon and Jung, play two gay transvestites, who had been constantly overlooked by volleyball coaches because of their appearance. However, when a local team changes coaches, the new coach holds tryouts for a new team. When Mon and Jung are selected, most of the old players resign, leaving the new coach, Coach Bee, in a sticky predicament.

It is really a very very touching story, humor and all aside… if there is any film that offers a glimpse about sexality/trans it has to be this ! Some people hated it and called claimed that it was over exaggerated but having been to Thailand i would say it was not all THAT exaggerated…besides it really brought the point home…


Fan Chan (English: My Girl) is a 2003 Thai romantic comedy film offering a nostalgic look back at the childhood friendship of a boy and girl growing up in a small town in Thailand in the 1980s. It was the debut film by six young screenwriter-directors, Vitcha Gojiew, Songyos Sugmakanan, Nithiwat Tharathorn, Witthaya Thongyooyong, Anusorn Trisirikasem and Komgrit Triwimol. With a soundtrack that featured Thai pop music of the era, Fan Chan was the top domestic film at the Thailand box office in 2003.

It has a hilarious kungfu/sword play scene between the kids when they are playing make believe! A must watch! (maybe i liked this film because it had certain similarities to Korean Film MY SASSY GIRL) :p


Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior a 2003 Thai action film. Directed by Prachya Pinkaew, featured stunt choreography by Panna Rittikrai and starred Tony Jaa.
Ong-Bak proved to be Jaa’s breakout film, with the actor hailed internationally as the next major martial-arts. More importantly the film introduced international audiences to a traditional form of muay Thai a kick boxing style known for its violent strikes with fist feet shins elbows knees.

While i was watching it… i was thinking… Jean Claude Van Damme


Now Shutter, a 2004 horror film from Thailand starred Ananda Everingham, Natthaweeranuch Thongmee, and Achita Sikamana. It focused on mysterious images seen in developed pictures. It was directed by Banjong Pisanthanakun and Parkpoom Wongpoom.

For some reason at this point of time i had a friend who was very into Lomo graphy
and after that she actually went to get a Polaroid Camera and started to insist that we take photos at night (shudder)

Randomness: there is this old guy who walks around Lygon Street at night with his huge polariod camera, i took one with my friend a few months back…he is pretty funny guy (makes a lot of weird/funny noises) the next time you are around give it a try…

It is just different from our camera phones or digital cameras!

Now…er…yea…i should end here…i am pretty OFF the whole thai and genre…haha:)


Read Full Post »

Its been a long time since i actually went and had a good look at maps… 
Never quite realize how close burma, laos, cambodia, vietnam and thailand really were…Anyways…This is a good website to get reliable links to the history of thailand:
(includes photos and stuff:))

Thai Cinema (good old wiki)
Post-war years

A poster for the 1970 film, Insee tong, in which Mitr Chaibancha died while filming the helicopter stunt. His co-star in the film, and scores of others, was leading lady Petchara Chaowarat.

A poster for the 1970 film, Insee tong, in which Mitr Chaibancha died while filming the helicopter stunt. His co-star in the film, and scores of others, was leading lady Petchara Chaowarat.

After the end of the Second World War, filmmaking got under way again in Thailand using surplus 16 mm black-and-white stock from wartime newsreel production.

The 1970s and ’80s
Thailand saw an explosion of locally produced films during the 1970s after the Thai government imposed a heavy tax on imported films in 1977, which led to a boycott of Thailand by Hollywood studios. To pick up the slack, 150 Thai films were made in 1978 alone. Many of these films were low-grade action films and were derided by critics and scholars as “nam nao” or “stinking water”.

The Thai New Wave
By 1981, Hollywood studios were once again sending films to Thailand. Also, television (see also Media in Thailand) was a growing part of Thai culture. This was a low period for the Thai film industry, and by the mid-1990s, studio output was averaging about 10 films per year.

Thai avant garde
With the New Wave directors achieving commercial and artistic success, a new crop of filmmakers has grown up outside the traditional and often restrictive Thai studio system to create experimental short films and features.

The leader of this indie movement is Apichatpong Weerasethakul, whose 2002 feature Blissfully Yours won the Un Certain Regard Prize at the Cannes Film Festival.


Thai Film a Turning Point by Joe Cummings
I think it was mentioned in the lecture about the year 2000 and the change to Thai Film

Apichatpong Weerasesotkul:“His prize in Cannes helped Thai Film reach an international audience and served to encourage young filmmakers (especially Indie Film makers)in Thailand.”
http://www.thaicinema.org/news&scoops49_1.asp (quite bad english translation but interesting stuff)


Now if there was any country that had every aspect of their lives closely related to religion it has to be thailand… 95% of the people are buddhist…


Thailand used to be a very peaceful country but come 20th-21st century, due to various reasons… globalization? opening up of trade / tourism … influences… it has been in the news quite a lot and there was a period of religious clashing and bombing…death and casualties…

For some strange reason thailand in 2006, when i was back in singapore…the news was constantly updating the latest in thailand… it kind of reminded me of the calm before a storm…my aunt  (who is thai) was there just before the 2006 Thai coup d’état and she said that you could cut the air (filled with tension) with a knife!


I rem my history teacher (in secondary school) commenting “A peaceful country, a self sufficient country in terms of natural resources and people…full of warm simple folk… lives disrupted…” I guess…it is never what it seems and…Ah well…politics… no wonder why some people call it a “dirty” word. Politics- money – fame – it makes people do crazy things…

Alrighty…my brain…is being clogged with the flu… this is all for now…

Read Full Post »

Hmm, it could be the flu…or my brain in a state of mush that affected my viewing today… i did see the need to create a connecting chart for the rest of the films (like Ten or for 4) but i did for this…haha…


It could be the fact that it was drastically different from any thai film i have ever seen…or the loss of subtitles when Min was talking (i presume) in Burmese to the guards, or his “drawings” appearing while the acting was going on in the back or the various sound effects that distracted me…

I have a few questions…

1) What was the name of the guy who hit on Min while he was waiting for Orn, and helped Orn with the weird cream mixture and then rode after them on a bike AND finally was having sex with her in the forest…

2) Why did Orn feed her husband the cream? Why did he have a silly grin on his face?

3) WHY oh WHY are they concocting weird cream with veg and stuff? To keep Min? To have a reason to touch him?

4) The ending scene when Roong was “playing” with Min’s organ…now…was it just me or was there werid sounds in the background admist the sound of nature and flowing water… was it Orn crying?

I did feel like it was a bit like Ten in the way the camera was sometimes showing the back of the road while the car was travelling and then moving to show the front of the road…I guess it was like a roadtrip and the seemingly peaceful slow lazy town… (only till it was mentioned in the lecture that it was suppose to be a town situated near the border of Burma did i go “OH!” haha)

It was mentioned in the lecture that the Sun was the “main” cast and that it represented the source of energy which answered the question in my mind, of why was it all in the day and no night scenes… I think what amazed me was how the “DAY” seem to stretch on and on maybe it was meant to reflect the gradual progression and mundane actions but still… slightly too snail like a pace for me…

Now…i must say i am not that big a fan of nature and the sounds from rustling of leaves, insects making insect noises.. did make me feel a bit tingly all over *even though we were in a lecture theatere…but as for the ANTS…I mean ASIDE from the obvious that they were outdoors…

Could it be that no matter where they run to (be it the top of the forest where the scenery was breathtaking or to the side of the stream…the ants followed)…

I saw the ANTS, a representational of the law…or the crack down on Burmese and that even if they retreat or escape into a so called isolated secluded area like the Forest, they are never able to fully get away?

MMM this to be has been the hardest to film to digest…maybe its just the foreigness of it…or the squirming in my seat as some scenes were really pretty hard to stomach…

Ah as beautifully written in:
“Though little may happen in conventional narrative terms, at the level of sensual affect, the impact is all but overwhelming with the viewer drawn steadily and inexorably into the film’s swirling emotional eddies and the characters’ desperate attempts to find happiness in the interstices of everyday life and its alienating discontents.”

Read Full Post »

Chinese martial arts is a very broad termininology, and it includes a enormous variety of martial arts styles originating from China.

Kung fu and wushu are popular terms that have become synonymous with Chinese martial arts. 

The terms kung fu (Chinese: 功夫 pinyin: gōngfū) and wushu (traditional Chinese: 武術; simplified Chinese: 武术) have very distinct connotations. Each term can describe different martial arts traditions and can also be used in a context without referencing martial arts.

Colloquially, kung fu (or gong fu) alludes to any individual accomplishment or cultivated skill. In contrast, wushu is a more precise term that refers to general martial activities.

The term wushu has also become the name for a modern sport similar to gymnastics involving the performance of adapted Chinese bare-handed and weapons forms (tàolù 套路) judged to a set of contemporary aesthetic criteria for points.

Sword (JIAN)- http://www.chinesesword.net/Swordplay/Swordplay1E.htm
It is not just for fighting but to cultivate one’s mind and body, when comparing Chinese sword with say the western or japanese, they all have something in common which is the need to cultivate oneself, put in a lot of hard work and many years of training in order to master it.

What is has become today: http://en.olympic.cn/china_oly/wushu_art/2003-11-27/19285.html


And on to the wu xia pian…

All throughout Chinese film history there exists two major categories of martial arts film, the wuxia pian and kung fu. Where kung fu, which is grounded in reality and has its roots in Hong Kong’s Cantonese serials based upon the legends of famous martial arts masters like Wong Fei-hung, the wuxia pian has existed as a popular storytelling genre in written form since the 9th century.

Wuxia Pian as a storytelling genre draws from Chinese mythology and the more esoteric aspects of martial arts. It usually chronicles the exploits of heroic knights who fight to uphold justice in a mythical realm where powerful clans of heroes and villains dominate society and vie for control of the “martial world.” Common elements to these stories include swordplay, flying, magic, weapons infused with special properties, and elaborate lairs or traps.

In the mid-’60s a new brand of wuxia film emerged, one increasingly influenced by Japanese samurai action found in jidai geki (period dramas). Japanese cinema had become far more sophisticated in production standards and popular samurai films like The Tale of Zatoichi (1962) were taking on a realistic and increasingly bloody style of swordplay. In response, Hong Kong filmmakers moved swordplay in wuxia a little closer to reality by depicting heroes as having developed supreme skills through years of training rather than through magic. These skills featured little or no magical elements, only exaggerated proficiency.

Temple of the Red Lotus (1965) and The Jade Bow (1966) are key transitional films from this period and illustrate the changing face of wuxia as they contain elements from both vintage and modern wuxia. It was King Hu’s Come Drink With Me, with its eye-catching art direction and sophisticated action choreography that more fully defined the modern wuxia film.

Leading the charge were two of the studio’s top directors, Chang Cheh and Chor Yuen. Chang brought excessive bloodletting and the male hero to the forefront with classics such as One-Armed Swordsman (1967) and Have Swordsman, Will Travel (1969). As the kung fu movie boom set in with the rise of Bruce Lee in the early 1970s, Chang adapted his own brand of wuxia to modern day and period kung fu movies. In contrast, Chor Yuen remained faithful to the wuxia tradition and became synonymous with cinematic adaptations of popular wuxia novels of the era written by the likes of Gu Long. These stories were usually complex and featured large casts of unusual characters wielding equally unusual weapons. Following the release of an eclectic mix of films, Chor found his wuxia stride by 1976 with the release The Magic Blade.

Tsui Hark’s A Chinese Ghost Story (1987) is generally credited with kicking off Hong Kong’s wire-enhanced return to martial arts filmmaking following the ’80s dominance of modern action films and comedies.

Even moviegoers unfamiliar with wuxia films have likely seen one, namely Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). Taiwanese director Ang Lee did what no other Chinese filmmaker had done before. He made a wuxia film hip and accessible for mainstream Western audiences with a sophisticated story and character development.

With this film’s release, the wuxia pian had come full circle for Ang Lee’s influences were clear, having drawn from King Hu’s A Touch of Zen (1971) among other wuxia films the director recalled as a child. No longer the black and white serials with simple good versus evil plots, the genre had reached a new pinnacle of technical and artistic excellence.

Although slow in coming, this has led top mainland Chinese directors Zhang Yimou and Chen Kaige to see the artistic potential of wuxia films. Zhang’s Hero (2002) continues the trend set by Ang Lee where high production values, stunning art direction, a thoughtful story, and brilliant wirework are driving the wuxia film into uncharted and exciting territory.


Seven swords: has every element necessary for a succesful wuxia pian, seven different characters from all different backgrounds all over china, they are on a mission to protect and along the way romance blossoms and loyalties are tested, and like every wuxia pian it has flying/sword fighting/martial arts and really strang weapons. A visual and sensory experience!

Read Full Post »


This is totally based on my own opinions…

Be it kungfu, wu xia pian, myths, folklore, religious deities… chinese cinema (china, hongkong) has always been gendered biased…

To begin with ,traditional chinese values, the men are suppose to be the stronger, thinking beings, the protector so to speak and the ones who bring the money home and the MAN OF THE HOUSE…while the women are the supportive ones who stay home, be there to provide for the men in terms of sexual needs, meals, child bearing etc…

Women are depicted as frail, weak, soft, fainting, incapable of greater things or rather never ever equal to men, concerned with their own petty gains, seeking attention, gaining the foothold only in the household, submissive at all times… if they are NOT marriage material THEN, they are EVIL, seductress, temptresses, the cause of all problems…

If you look at the history of China, APPARENTLY…all the Kings who fell from grace, the ruins of empires are attributed to a woman or women folk who stirred up trouble by constantly playing on the King’s emotions and through physical pleasures getting him to give out imperial edicts or change the laws for their own gains… (it is NEVER stated that Kings are stupid and ruled their empire with their male organ) (it is always the bad bad female…) *pls i need to roll my eyes here

Moving on… so far Storyline/plots of chinese-ness movies:

Aesthetics: It HAS to involve elements of nature, from wind, cloud, water, sand, forest, caves, mountains, animals be it to consume or as pets, a lot of flappy garments, long hair, odd shaped scary looking weapons, gleaming swords, the mastering of ‘chi’, horses, donkeys, big vast landscapes, or absolute solidtary, self exile, eye for detail, the choice of cups, seats, the temples, religious statues like the laughing buddha or warrior god…Food and clothing is usually a way of differentiating the classes, the rich usually have pig/duck/chicken meat as dishes while dressed in silk clothing

An example of over the top detail would be the recent : Curse of the Golden Flower
if you manage to look beyond the ridiculous cleavages,the sets are pretty elborate..not surprisingly, Gong Li the Empresses (FEMALE) who fufils her own sexual desire, engaging with incestual relations with her step son…plots the downfall of the Emperor and even implicates her own son in the process…

Names: Chinese names of characters always end up sounding weird when translated to english  eg:”Flying Snow”, “Broken Sword” but it is usually representational of the elements of wood, earth, fire, water or seasons winter autumn spring summer and it has to do with human traits like courageous and weakness etc.

Men: growing up, from boy to manhood, learning the value of hard work, moral upright behaviour, upholding justice, brotherhood and loyalty, protection of family, carrying on the family line, taking on the rich and powerful who dominate and manipulate the politics and law, learning to do the right thing (like choosing to go for battle / duel and leaving their “nu ren”-woman to go into child birth by themselves) coming back and being a proud father (note only a proud father if it is a SON)-why? son’s bear the family name!

Alright, major gender biasness aside, movies do have positive elements of teaching (which i think some chinese guys need to RE-learn) and take out of traditional films…

-How to be a gentlemen (not being touchy-feely) without being a total male chauvinistic pig
-Women are not meant to be treated like thrash, they are meant to be taken care of, listened to (they are wise)!
-Its not all about me myself and i, there is a greater meaning to life, count your blessings and try to make a difference, even if it is just for one friend…
-Importance of family ties, “ying shui si yuan”-going back to the source and repaying the ones who have been kind to you

Read Full Post »

Extracts from reader
Knocking off Nationalism in HongKong Cinema: Woman and the Chinese “Thing” in Tsui Hark’s Flims by Kwai Cheung Lo

“For many years, the West has regarded Hong Kong as a counterfeit captial…critics often claim that they are stunned by the quality and sheer variety of knockoffs.”

Now i do not know if it is just me, being chinese (asian) but it is not just Hong Kong that has been a target of criticism but if you look really closely (only in the recent years did i notice this myself)…

From music, to art, to drama serials to movies, even novels, countries (america, japan, korea, hongkong, taiwan, thailand, singapore…etc) are i would not say copying each other but influencing each other. I mean America HollyWood, they sure have  done some pretty cheesy rip offs too just that they call it parody but REALLY?! I think its more of the influence of travel, sight seeing, globalization (next entry) And this issue about authentic “Chineseness” (more in the next entry too …tradition, morality etc)

Now lets talk about Tsui Hark


“In comparison to John Woo and Jackie Chan, Tsui is not very successful in the West” “Tsui shares with all his new wave colleagues a concern for China” (refer to previous entry on History Of HonG KonG) Personally i think the reason is that he did not “sell out”, he remains pretty much true to the esscence of Chinese Cinema, maybe in a way, if you are not Chinese, certain parts are harder to grasp…Like during the screening of Seven Swords people were laughing at some pretty well not so funny parts… i guess its intepretation and connection…

This website, is worth checking out: http://www.lovehkfilm.com
and they have some decent links: http://www.lovehkfilm.com/links.htm
two of the better links:

“What Tsui says about Hong Kong film makers is to a large extent also true of his own style, of producing movies. Seeking ideas and techonologies from Hollywood, he mixes them with Chinese folklore, myth, manga (japanese comic books)  and even science fiction to generate strange hybrids of sociopolitical satire, cross dressing, gender bending and chaotic dazzle.”

Looking at Once Upon a Time in China I and II, Wong Fei Hung
“Tsui’s Wong Fei Hung is more inclined to embrace Hong Kong values, as proven when he strongly denounces the fundamentalist nationalism of the White Lotus cult and welcomes multi national and multicultural integration such as the combination of Western medicine and Chinese acupuncture to treat the injured in the besieged British consulate”

Whilst also perhaps to him “There seems to be nothing to connect people to one another in such a society, this may be why the majority of characters in his film aimlessly follow the drift of the vrowd or the mob. Society is no longer a totality for its people, collective responsibility or the sense of organic absorption into a unit is impossible”

Considering how HongKong was once under the British colonial rule, then had their independence and then went “back” to China in 1997, it is a complex small little nation/country and identity is really hard to pin down, i mean yes essential CHINESE but the influences are hard to ignore and i guess like written : “Without a doubt, Tsu’s cinematic represetation of nationalism springs form a masculinised memory and hope” and a greater cry for humanity, people are so disconnected from one another and selfish that everything they do seems to be for their own self gain, and gone are the good old days of “the greater good”!

Read Full Post »

🙂 Im presenting next week, so i went to the library and did some research in advance. This is the stuff i extracted, and probably will present (in addition to other stuff)

The Cinema of Hong Kong: History Arts Identity
Edited by Poshek Fu, David Desser
Cambridge University Press 2000
Selected  history of Hong Kong and Hong Kong Cinema

-1840 signing of Treaty of Nanjing which cedes Hong Kong to the British as a result of China’s defeat in the Opium War

-1930 Founding of Lian hua (united china) production and printing company funded by several Hong Kong business men

-1941 Japan occupies Hong Kong in December, Hong Kong film production ceases completely during the entire Japanese occupation

-1945 British occupy Hong Kong following Japanese surrender ending the Pacific War

-1949 Founding of People Republic of China (PRC). First film of the long running Wong Fei Hung series

-1950 Nanyang Studio renamed Shaws Father and Sons Film Company, hundreds and thousands of Chinese including shanghai film makers come to Hong Kong to escape communist rule

-1953 Massive fire in Shek Kip Mei leaves thousands homeless

-1965 Shaw Brothers release King Hu’s first martil arts film Da Zui Xia (Come drink with Me)

-1968 King Hu’s Longmen Kezhan (Dragon Inn) breaks Hong Kong box office record grossing 2.2million

-1970 Former Shaw Brothers executive Raymond Chow forms Golden Harvest Studio

 -1988 New censorship ordinance passed leading to a ratings system (cateogories I, II, III) a new form of censorship on politically sensitive films.

-1991 Success of Tsui Harks’s Naner Dang Ziqiang (Once Upon A Time In China) starts a new Wong Fei Hung series

-1994 Chunking Express brings Wong Kar Wai to international attention

-1997 “return” to China on July 1st

The cinema of Hong Kong
Has until recently been a neglected area of scholarly attention in the west.
Except of pioneering works by Leo Lee and Rey Chow.

Always marginalized both within and without China, the Hong Kong cinema, like Hong Kong itself seemed to suffer from the same malaise what PoShek Fu termed “the Central plains syndrome”.

The 1970s was a crucial decade for the Hong Kong cinema as it achieved an international recognition that was unknown to it before while it experienced something like a boom, a bust and a renaissance.

The 1997 handover and the transnational appeal of filmmakers like

Jackie Chan, John Woo, and Wong Kar Wai however, has combined to propel Hong Kong cinema into a significant field of research.

Hong Kong cinema aesthetics are often constrained by the relatively low budgets mandated for its productions, a factor influenced by the small market for its cinema. Hong Kong films are distributed only within the Cantonese speaking community, a tiny market compared with the Mandarin speaking cinema.

Perhaps the need to churn out films rather quickly to capitalize on the latest trend or fad or the generic nature of Hong Kong production itself largely influences the particular characteristics of Hong Kong’s cinematic imagery or perhaps it has something to do with the landscape of Hong Kong’s itself, resolutely urban, crowded.

Tsui Hark, one of the later directors, would go to great lengths to show the impossible, he seemed always concerned with making his fights however fantastic, seem probable it not possible.

Michael Hui and Cantonese comedy with his 2 other brothers,

explore the connection between Hong Kong and the mainland and breaks free from the predominant focus of the Western critics on Hong Kong’s kung fu and gangster films.

(this is quite a good link : http://us.yesasia.com/en/Emagazine/ArticlePage.aspx/section-videos/code-c/articleId-69/ if you want a quick write up on Michael, Sam and Ricky Hui)

Wong Kar Wai’s flims especially Chung King Express, the characters represent the perfect paradigm of HongKong’s “bricolage of American pop culture, British culture and Asian Commerce”. A close reading of the film reveals its focus on the commodity, shifting identity and keen concern with time as allegories of the 1997.

 The Kung Fu Craze  
In 1973 American audiences were thrilled to the exploits of Bruce Lee, and years on, in 1996 Jackie Chan’s Rumble in the Bronx opened and became the top box-office draw of the month.

Kung fu – invented as a genre in Shanghai in the 19200s, martial arts cinema has a long pedigree. It grows out of the historical existence of the martial arts literature. Possessing two main strands:
Kung Fu and Swordplay.



The latter almost without expectation are period films, historical epics, mythological tales of magic, action spectaculars with colorful costunmes.

In 1938 due to emigration of film makers and the different situation in Hong Kong, the Cantonese industry took up martial arts movies. It outshone every Cantonese genre from 1938 to 1970.

A burgeoning overseas market in Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, and United States (in Chinatown theaters) led to almost risk free production with preproduction budgets often supplied by overseas buyers.

The Wong Fei Hung dominated the Cantonese cinema of the 1950s and 1960s and was something of a golden age for Cantonese sword films.

As the 1970s wore on, the Hollywood studios began adapting the martial arts genre for American movies, such as Black Belt Jones.

If nothing else, the genre managed to maintain a hold, however slight, on the youth audience, for it always was the youth audience that had been the heart of  Kung Fu’s fandom , white working class, middle class boys, side by side with black urban and rural audiences.

Many Kung Fu films portrayed a rather anarchic world view, routinely a nihilist one with violent death a way of life and continued and continual trial by combat the typical narrative drive. Such filmic values and motifs clearly mirror the psychosociological states of young people. And the sheer kinetics of the films – rapid fire editing trick photography and the unbridled athleticism of young stars.

The meteoric rise of the martial arts madness is a classic example of ‘total propaganda’ concept for it was not film alone that caused the boom. It was capitalist opportunism and marketing.King Husjff_02_img0720.jpg
Hu wanted to avoid making martial feats look artificial, he was proud of not employing trick photography. Instead of trying to put the feats on the same plane as ordinary sequences as special effects ad orthodox constructive cutting tend to do, he sought a stylization that set these extraordinary feats apart from mundane reality. Not that he wanted to glorify the warriors as super human.The powers they display are not supernatural they spring from the mastery of chi or essential energy. Hu’s task was to difnfy and beautify these feats without tipping them into implausibility and sheer fantasy. He makes his actions faster then the eyes. Even it seems the camera can follow. His combat scenes were obliged to present near fantastic feats of martial prowess. By editing, the “imperfections” makes Hu’s action scenes so distinctive. The dynamic between stability and momentary indiscernibility that yields his most original effects.

David Bordwell “Aesthetics in action: Kungfu Gunplay and Cinematic Expressivity” IN At Full Speed, HongKong Cinema in a Borderless World University of Minnesota Press 2001 


Hong Kong films employ death defying stunts that is not news. What is important is that the stunts are staged, shot, and cut for readability. The Hong Kong norm aims to maximize the actions legibility. From the 1960s swordplay films and 1970s kungfu movies to the cop movies and revived wuxia pian of the 1980s and 1990s this filmmaking tradition  has put the graceful body at the centre. In order to follow the plot, one must be constantly apprised of the actor’s behavior down to the minute changes of posture, stance or regard. Hong Kong cinema has emphasized the concreteness and clarity of each gesture. Doubtless traditions of marital arts and Peking opera- cultural factors different from those governing Hollywood style have been central to aesthetic.

Very likely the marital arts tradition with its repertory of forms and combinations cultivated a belief that combat involved a balance between poised stillness and swift attack or defences.

The Hong Kong cinema manages to go beyond the performance and uses other film techniques to amplify the expressive dimensions of the action. The rapid zoom itself often manifest the pause-burst pattern from at the level of the performance as pose strike pose. The expressive force of running jumping, punching or kicking can also be strengthened by overlapping editing. In Hong Kong, overlapping serves to clarify key gestures by distending the time they take onscreen. Slow motion can intensify the fury or effort or danger of blow while also stressing its grace.

For example: Tsui Hark’s willingness to intercut shorts displaying different rates of slow motion to the stuttering pause-burst-pause printing. With the tradition of amplifying actions, emotional overtones by playing with speed of motion. However, Tsui hark never loses the context of “locality” embedding his vision in a dense depiction of background and foreground with a keen eye to realistic detail as underscored by the scenes in his movies.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »