Donnie says: “This is action filmmaking”

Since March 2016, around the edges of my day job, I have been writing a book about Shaw Brothers studios and some of their directors, framed against the theme of innovation. As you can imagine, this has been a lot of hard work but also highly enjoyable. It has been particularly interesting to track down…

Disciples of Shaolin – Opening Sequence

A common aesthetic device used in kung fu movies of the 70s and 80s was to show the opening credits of the film against footage of the main stars performing displays of martial arts in front of a plain (often boldly coloured) backdrop.* This was often used in films that had, as part of their…

Ginji the Slasher

I recently rewatched a Japanese film, Ginji the Slasher, which is a film I like very much. It made me think about what constitutes a martial arts film, as opposed to a film that belongs to another genre and which just has a bit of martial arts in it. It tells the story of Ginji,…

Great Quote No. 10

“(Critic David) Bordwell... points out that the rythmic pulse of Hong Kong action requires stasis as well as movement, with 'lightning switches between quick, precise gestures and punctuating poses' ”. Leon Hunt, Kung Fu Cult Masters, p. 28 Nicely spotted David Bordwell. Unfortunately, I didn't copy down the Bordwell's book that Hunt was referencing, but it…

geungsi, mama hung, shopping

I have been having good luck with my shopping lately. I was poking about in a DVD shop in Melbourne’s Chinatown recently when I found, on sale and literally gathering dust on a bottom shelf, a boxed set of Vampire themed kung fu movies: Mr Vampire 1-4, The Dead and the Deadly, Vampire versus Vampire,…

Great Quote No. 8

“Broadly speaking, there are two ways of looking at the West's 'Asian romance': 'a controlled setting in which to be exposed to and (perhaps) examine certain notions of linguistic, racial and cultural difference' (Fore) or 'a flirtation with the exotic rather than an attempt at any genuine intercultural understanding' (Marchetti). Then again, given kung fu's…

Wire fu in Romeo Must Die

“If the film (Romeo Must Die) cannot integrate Jet Li into his own film, it stumbles even more over its incorporation of 'Hong Kong action'. Romeo Must Die is, visually, a post-Matrix film, but it does not have its predecessor's fantasy remit to explain why fighters float in mid-air... the CGI-enhanced wirework looks as though…

Great Quote No. 7

“But Julian Stringer reminds us that there are some issues of cultural power surrounding the 'camp' gaze at Hong Kong cinema, which is, after all, a 'largely white gaze at a Chinese other' (1996/97: 55)”. p. 12 “... box office figures do not tell us much about how a film was received and the conditions…

Great Quote No. 6

“At one level, the kung fu film can be seen as what Steven Shapiro and Linda Williams call a 'body genre' (although neither include it as one) alongside pornography, horror and the 'weepie' films that offer a 'display of sensations that are on the edge of respectable' (Williams 1995: 140). Kung fu is a genre…