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The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora

Ang Lee, John Woo,and Jackie Chan in Hollywood

Kin-Yan Szeta

Publication Year: 2011

This book examines commercially successful films that depict or are inspired by Chinese martial arts, and that were made by major film artists of the Chinese diaspora—native Chinese that migrated and settled in other areas of the world. Specifically, Szeto discusses the work of John Woo, Jackie Chan, and Ang Lee.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Book Title

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p. iv


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p. iv


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p. v


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p. vii

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Introduction: Cosmopolitical Consciousness, Film, and Transnationalism

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pp. 1-12

“Action is a world language, thus Hong Kong’s action films were accepted by Cantonese speakers and Mandarin speakers, by Southeast Asian countries which didn’t understand Chinese, and gradually, by Europe and America” (Zhang Che 20). Zhang Che, a major Hong Kong martial arts film director between the 1960s and 1970s, comments on the successful crossover of Hong Kong action...

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1. Martial Arts Cinema, the Chinese Diaspora, and Hollywood

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pp. 13-32

The martial arts cinema originated in the Shanghai film industry in Mainland China, with the 1928 release of the film Burning of the Red Lotus Monastery, based on the martial arts novel Legend of the Strange Hero. The regional networks, diasporic connections, and border-crossing movement of goods, capital, and people drew Hong Kong...

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2. Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Gender, Ethnicity, and Transnationalism

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pp. 33-70

Cosmopolitical director Ang Lee made the Chinese-language film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in 2000, winning international acclaim and commercial success. The film’s budget of $15 million was the highest ever for a Chinese-language film at the time and became the most commercially successful foreign film ever to be distributed worldwide, grossing more than $200 million...

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3. Facing Off East and West in the Cinema of John Woo

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pp. 71-112

The critical intervention of cosmopolitical consciousness challenges the Orientalist conventions of treating Asia as either uniform and totally pure or traditional with authentic difference from the West. These issues have become more complicated and fascinating since famous Hong Kong director John Woo entered American mainstream film production and continues to produce hits in Hollywood. Woo’s film trajectory demonstrates itself...

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4. Jackie Chan and the Politics of Comic Displacement

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pp. 113-143

This chapter examines how transnational martial arts filmmaker and star Jackie Chan embodies and deploys a cosmopolitical perspective in his work. Chan possesses several important qualities that distinguish... him from other popular media personalities, including comparable action film figures such as Chow Yun-Fat, Jet Li, and Michelle Yeoh. Since the 1980s, Chan has consistently

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Conclusion: Cosmopolitical Thinking

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pp. 144-152

Today’s world is interconnected. Each challenge facing us is interlinked with others. Hollywood’s cultural, economic, and political influence on the world film industry, as an example, cannot be addressed without considering its cross-pollination by Hong Kong/Chinese martial arts film traditions. Yet, the Chinese-language film industry’s relations with Hollywood cannot be informed without...


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pp. 153-156


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pp. 157-166


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pp. 167-171

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Author Bio

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p. 173

Awarded the PhD in performance studies from Northwestem University, Kin-Yan Szeto is associate professor of theater and dance at Appalachian State University. Her research bridges the areas of film, performance, and visual studies. Szeto received her BA in English from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and...

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780809386208
E-ISBN-10: 0809386208
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809330218
Print-ISBN-10: 0809330210

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2011

OCLC Number: 742517204
MUSE Marc Record: Download for The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Cheng, Long, 1954- -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Woo, John, 1948- -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Lee, Ang, -- 1954- -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Martial arts films -- United States -- History and criticism.
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