Chinese Martial Arts Cinema: The Wuxia Tradition (Traditions by Stephen Teo

By Stephen Teo

The conventional martial arts style referred to as wuxia (literally "martial chivalry") turned well known across the world in the course of the extraordinary hit Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000). This publication unveils the wealthy layers of the wuxia culture because it built within the early Shanghai cinema of the past due Nineteen Twenties and within the Hong Kong and Taiwan movie industries of the Fifties and past. Stephen Teo follows the culture from its beginnings in Shanghai cinema to its upward push as a serialized shape in silent cinema and its prohibition in 1931. He stocks the glorious features of the style, their dating to folklore, delusion, and faith, and their similarities and alterations with the kung fu sub-genre of martial arts cinema. He maps the protagonists and heroes of the style, particularly the determine of the girl knight-errant, and its leader personalities and masterpieces. administrators coated comprise King Hu, Chu Yuan, Zhang Che, Ang Lee, and Zhang Yimou, and flicks mentioned are Come Drink With Me (1966), The One-Armed Swordsman (1967), a marginally of Zen (1970-71), Hero (2002), residence of Flying Daggers (2004), The Promise (2005), The ceremonial dinner (2006), and Curse of the Golden Flower (2006).

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In the early 1920s, several studios, including Mingxing (Star Motion Picture Company), Shanghai Photoplay Company, and Great Wall were established. The success of Mingxing’s Guer jiu zu ji (Orphan Saves His Grandfather, 1923) initiated a cycle of ‘society films’ (shehui yingpian), a contemporary genre dealing with social issues. 32 The company that initiated this genre was the Tianyi (Unique) Company, established in 1925. The guzhuang genre was influenced by Western costume pictures and adventure epics, particularly the swashbucklers of Douglas Fairbanks, Sr, The Mark of Zorro (1920), The Three Musketeers (1921), Robin Hood (1922), The Thief of Bagdad (1924), The Black Pirate (1926), all of which were popular with Chinese audiences.

As with much of the output in the genre, the film is now lost. Zheng Junli called it a love story that was a ‘straightforward imitation of the ancients’. 34 The evidence suggests that Lady Knight Li Feifei is a costume picture. Though the wuxia picture is often a costume picture, the reverse does not necessarily apply. The costume genre took on a genre identity of its own as filmmakers reached into the repertoire of classical Chinese subjects from literature, opera, and the oral narrative tradition with music accompaniment known as tanci to cull suitable stories for adaptation to cinema.

53–55. 7. See Ye Hongsheng, Lun jian, p. 8. See also Han Yunbo, Zhongguo xia wenhua, p. 12. 8. See Cai Xiang, Xia yu yi: Wuxia xiaoshuo yu Zhongguo wenhua (‘Xia and Yi: Wuxia Literature and Chinese Culture’) (Beijing: October Arts Press, 1993), p. 4. 9. For multiple interpretations of jianghu, see Liu Tianci, Wuxia bianju miji, pp. 118–145. 10. John Christopher Hamm, Paper Swordsmen, p. 17. 11. Chen Pingyuan, Qiangu wenren xiake meng, p. 108. 12. See Han Yunbo, Zhongguo xia wenhua, p. 12. 13. Han Fei Zi, ‘The Five Venoms’.

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