[Marxism] On Kung Fu Hustle

Yoshie Furuhashi furuhashi.1 at osu.edu
Thu May 12 17:18:44 MDT 2005


Michael Hoover wrote:

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

I just checked the blog to see if your comments are up, and, yes, 
they are up at 
<http://montages.blogspot.com/2005/05/kung-fu-hustle.html>!

>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...

According to Roger Ebert, "Miramax bought it, and shelved it for two 
years, apparently so Harvey Weinstein could cut it by 30 minutes, get 
rid of the English dubbing, restore the subtitles, and open it one 
week after his own 'Kill Bill Vol. 2'" 
(<http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20040423/REVIEWS/404230305/1023>, 
23 Apr. 2004).  :-0

I just watched Shaolin Soccer on dvd.  A lot of fun!

Shaolin Soccer is ambivalent about homosexuality: on one hand, it has 
a homophobic/homoerotic humor involving eggs and Stephen Chow's 
crotch; on the other hand, an outtake that comes before the final 
credits casually reveals that the person to whom the goalie 
proclaimed love on the cell phone before he fell victim to the Evil 
Team and was replaced by Mui was male rather than female.

>_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

HK action cinema has translated far better in the international 
market than Bollywood (Bride and Prejudice, for instance, sucked). 
Global production probably won't destroy HM cinema, as long as there 
continues to be a strong local market for it in HK.  Threats to 
national cinemas, I think, are mainly imports, rather than exports or 
transnational investments (e.g., there would be little to no African 
cinema without French money), especially if imports are backed by 
powerful distributors who can hog available screens.
-- 
Yoshie

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