[Marxism] On Kung Fu Hustle

Michael Hoover hooverm at scc-fl.edu
Thu May 12 15:32:50 MDT 2005

hi yoshie, tried to post comments re. _kfh_ at critical montages, not sure that i succeeded...

ah come on, all good fan girlz and boyz know that hk cinema is just sheer fun escapism & fantasy, that entertainment & social commentary or political relevance are counter-posed to, and mutually exclusive of one another, that 'political readings' revealed by subtexts, issues, conflicts, and allegories are just intellectual masturbation...

more seriously, _kfh_ would appear to accomplish for Chow/Chiaiu what _shaolin soccer_ was supposed to accomplish before Miramax screwed up distribution of what was largest grossing pic in hk history: global reach...

_kfh_ goes beyond chow's experimentation with combining computer graphics and live action in previous flick, present film is dramatic departure for filmmaker who built career on use of obscure puns and nonsense language known as 'mo-lay-tau' (literally nine follows eight, but nine doesn't have anything to do with eight, its definitions ranging from 'without a shred of evidence' to 'at evens and odds') *and* local geographic markers*

chow's intense use of cantonese slang and hk settings was empowering for local audiences, because only native practicing cantonese speakers (or those living in hk and especially fluent) got the jokes, moreover, he would reinvest common cantonese expressions with new meanings, not always translatable into mandarin speakers reading subtitles or english*

in contrast, chow's new internationalism both downplays comedic dialogue (mo-lay-tau is pretty much absent) *and* the film is set in pre-1949 shanghai * btw: several critics have suggested that axe gang is chow's wry comment on ccp leadership (chow himself says that chinese gov't censors did not remove any jokes...

in any event, conglomerates have entered the scene, _kfh_ is columbia pictures (subsidiary of sony which has released film in u.s. through its sony classics division) -bejing film studio co-production, columbia pictures' asian operation has invested pretty heavily in mainland china's film industry infrastructure in recent years, chow's new film reflects loss of localism in hk cinema and raises questions about whether it will it be able to retain its distinctiveness in global marketplace*   michael hoover

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