I have decided to show a ‘mystery’ kung fu movie to a bunch of my friends and then ask them for their reactions. My friends don’t watch many kung fu movies so I will be curious as to what their reactions will be. Below is the invitation I will send to them today.

You are invited to attend the

Very First Controlled Experiment in

Kung Fu Movie Watching!!!

Sunday January 22nd

2pm (for opening drinks) followed by screening at 2.30pm.

 Venue: My place!

Congratulations! Attendance at this Experiment is being rigidly controlled and offered to a select few. You have been selected from a wide field of potential participants (i.e. every other bugger I’ve ever met) because of your:

  • Open mindedness and high tolerance for the unusual or different
  • Ability to articulate opinions
  • Ability to concentrate
  • Lack of cultural snobbery
  • Imagination
  • Sense of humour
  • I suspect that you have not seen as many kung fu movies as I have (and this is important to the experiment)
  • And because I like you and want to see you anyway

So please come! I will not attach electrodes to your brain, conduct probes (anal or otherwise), make you sit tests or ask you to look at ink blots. I just need you to come and watch a great film.

RSVPs are essential and must be made by Thursday 19th January.

More information about the experiment is below

What the experiment is:

I will show you a kung fu movie. You will not be given the title or any information about this movie – you will view it completely cold. I will be observing your reactions and then leading a brief discussion about the movie after it has finished. At the completion of the experiment you are free to hang around for more drinks or more movies or just general chatting.

Why is the experiment being run:

At the moment, I am (seriously) investigating cultural and creative aspects of kung fu movies and the way that western audiences relate to them. I have watched so many kung fu movies now that I am used to the way their particular and unique story telling devices and characteristics work. I am starting to forget what it is like to experience the kung fu movie culture if you aren’t used to it. I am feeling the need to step outside of my own biases and perceptions for a while, and to see how other people react to these films.

Some ground rules:

  • If, once the film starts, you realise that you have seen it before or think you know something about it or the performers in it then please don’t say anything. I think it is highly unlikely that you have seen it or will know anything about it but – you never know! Maybe SBS showed it once and you happened to see it, or maybe one of your friends saw it and described it to you… This is THE most important rule. I want people to come to this film cold, so if you know about the film then don’t let on.
  • Don’t ask me any questions at all about the film before or during its screening. I won’t answer them. One of the objectives of this experiment is to see how far your own guess work and the Hong Kong film makers’ techniques can take you. I will answer all questions during the post film discussion.
  • Be prepared to suspend your disbelief and your ideas as to what a ‘good’ movie should be. The movie I am showing you is of very high quality and a real show piece for Hong Kong kung fu movie making and performance techniques at their best. But it does not follow the Hollywood template, and its film makers had very different priorities and agendas in comparison to the typical Hollywood film maker.
  • The movie I show you will be entertaining and fun (I think, anyway). But there is violence in it that is not suitable for children. I am sorry; please do not bring your kids.
  • Please don’t invite your mates. I am rather rigidly controlling who comes because many westerners are contemptuous of kung fu movies (even if they have never seen any!) and lack the ability to suspend their disbelief, step outside of their own cultural norms and judge these films on their own merits. I have had the experience where, in the past, I have attended screenings of kung fu films in a cinema and have found myself in an audience that was determined to sneer and jeer at the movie before the opening credits even started rolling. The movie never had a chance! You have been invited because, although I know you may have definite ideas about what you do or don’t like (and are comfortable with expressing them), I know that you are not in the habit of treating foreign cultures with contempt. If even just one viewer is blinkered by contempt and determined to find fault with the film during this experiment because they think that it’s “just one of those fucking crazy kung fu movies”, then it’s just not going to work.
  • You are free to natter during the movie of course, but please restrict your comments to what is happening on the screen. I know that I am sounding like a fascist but I need to you concentrate, so it would be appreciated if you could catch up with each other’s news before or after the screening and not during.

Um. Don’t worry too much about these rules. I want them followed, but participation in this experiment is meant to be easy and fun. This is one of my very favourite movies I will be sharing with you, so lie back on my couch or a cushion, drink some wine, prepare to be amazed and enjoy yourself!

6 thoughts on “A controlled experiment in kung fu movie watching

    1. Sorry JP, not unless you come to Melbourne. You know how low tech I am. Besides, you wouldn’t do. You’re way too knowledgeable about Asian action movies. I want novices who don’t know a thing for this particular experiment.


  1. Should be an interesting evening, for sure! Do tell the results afterwards. I’m curious what the film is too. Hmm. It’s hard to pick one film that would represent HK filmmaking to the uninitiated. I’ll reserve my guesses until afterwards though. Don’t want to spoil anything!


    1. Oh I haven’t even tried to pick just one film that could do that. Impossible with such an endlessly inventive genre. But this film is excellent. But there are other reasons why I picked it which I will be able to reveal after the experiment. I have 3 brave watchers on board so far.


  2. A very good idea! =D Can’t wait to hear the results. I quess you’re not revealing the title of the movie in advance? I’m very curious ;D


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