[Marxism] Two Asian films

Michael Hoover hooverm at scc-fl.edu
Wed Jan 4 16:45:39 MST 2006

>>> lnp3 at panix.com 01/04/06 9:59 AM >>>
Very early this morning (jet lag will do this to you), I watched "Chop 
Socky: Cinema Hong Kong," a one hour documentary on the IFC cable channel 
(don't go to their theater in NYC--they use non-union projectionists.) It 
revealed how important creative innovation is to the directors and actors 
in this field. They are always experimenting with cinematography, martial 
arts techniques, characterization, etc. In his interview, Jackie Chan said 
that he could not be another Bruce Lee, even if he was being marketed in 
this fashion. He had to develop his own profile, which turned out to 
combine martial arts and slapstick. I also learned that the Japanese 
Zatoichi blind swordsmen series had an enormous impact on Hong Kong 
film-makers. After seeing Zatoichi films, they felt the need to improve 
their cinematography, plots, etc.

re. chan, as authors of this really funky book on hk cinema write:
Whereas Bruce Lee kicked high, Jackie Chan kicks low. Lee broke
through walls with a single punch; Chan hurts his hand when he
strikes a wall. The former was serious; the latter is a comic. Jackie
Chan is, in effect, an anti-Bruce Lee, a conscious and calculated
polar opposite.

chan was among a number of unsuccessful bruce lee wannabes following
latter's death, part of problem was that chan was thin and didn't exude
lee's on-screen authoritative presence...

re. zatoichi, check out 'zatoichi meets the one armed swordsman' (71 or 72) 
directed by kimiyoshi yasuda who directed several zatoichi films...

the one armed swordsman of film is jimmy wang yu from chang cheh's 67
film of same name (inspired, in part, it seems, by zatoichi), here's what
authors of above-mentioned cool hk cinema book write:

Chang Cheh's One Armed Swordsman (1967) is generally acknowledged as the
movie that launched the 1970s' martial arts phenomenon [in hong kong]. 
While the film's title announces that this is a swordplay movie - 
nothing new in itself - the hero's disability (his sifu's jealous 
daughter has chopped off his right arm) produces a different type of 
character. Forced to undergo a strict and tough rehabilitative training 
program, the protagonist (Jimmy Wang Yu) becomes a 'lean mean fighting 
machine' with a blade.  Notably brutal for its time, Chang's picture 
ushered in an era of the self-reliant individualist that according to 
[noted hk film critic] Sek Kei, simultaneously destroyed the image of 
the weak Chinese male by featuring 'beefcake heroes in adventure and 

in 'zatoichi meets the one armed swordsman, wang yu's character travels
to japan where he intervenes to prevent a young boy's execution and has
a bounty placed upoin him, meanwhile, the young boy's dying father's
last wish is for shintaro katsu's blind swordsman to care for his son,
communication difficulties between the two swordsmen lead to them
fighting one another...

trivia: tsui hark's 'the blade (95) is a remake of chang's 'one armed
swordsman' by way of a detour through wong kar-wai's 'ashes of time (94)
in which tony leung ka-fai plays a blind swordsman...

finally: blind swordsman films inspired 71 flick entitled 'deaf mute heroine'
directed by wu ma, one of number of hk martial arts films featuring
women...   michael hoover
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