Kung Fu and Its Effect on Asia

Topics: Bruce Lee, Martial arts film, Hong Kong action cinema Pages: 6 (2594 words) Published: November 26, 2012
Living in the early 21st century, humanity is experiencing the rise of Asia lead by China. Recently, China seems to be the most developing nation in the world and has become a new economic power. However, the world has noticed about China for a long time before this rise because of the Kung-Fu exposure in Hollywood movies. It can be said the inclusion of martial arts in Hollywood movies has a great impact on Western society in many ways and thanks to this prominent practice, the image of Asia and Asian somehow has been changed so far in the Western perception. First of all, Chinese martial arts are also known as Kung fu or Wushu, there are a number of traditional fighting styles that have developed over the centuries in China. According to Li (2001), Chinese martial arts film first appeared in Hong Kong since 1970s and this kind of movies was so successful. Li (2001) also said that under the colonial condition, the national pride and the image of strong China were reflected by the male kung fu body as an empowering fighting and self-defensive skill. Besides, Li (2001) also explained the reason that kung fu films can exist is the formulation of arbitrary generic conventions and the design of plot to create kung fu fight scenes. Through these movies, Chinese people can fight back bullet when they are outgun (in Once upon a time in China film) or counter firearms easily (in The Way of the Dragon movie). However, Kung fu was not world-wide known until 1972 by Bruce Lee. Bruce Lee’s The way of the Dragon or Return of the Dragon was the first Chinese martial arts movie in Hollywood. In my opinion. Bruce Lee played an important role in the inclusion of martial arts in Hollywood movie as he created a whole new type of hero in cinemas. After I read Li (2001)’s “Kung Fu: Negotiating nationalism and modernity”, I understand that Bruce Lee’s characters were completely different from others. People can see Rambo (acted by Sylvester Stallone) and Terminator (acted by Arnold Schwarzenegger)-two classical action images in Hollywood are muscular and empowered by modern weapons and hi tech. Bruce Lee’s appearance is far from that, Lee’s power comes from hand-to-hand combat skills of Kung Fu and he often fight against imperialism and colonization. Yip (2011) takes an example of Lee’s film, in Fist of Fury, the film stars Lee as an apprentice who fight for the honor of Chinese people and take revenge for his master. Moreover, he fights through a lot of battles including a number of Japnanese, a sensei, a Russian wrestler and a katana expert. In all of Lee’s films, the idea of subjecting the body to the limit combining with exercises and national strengthening are considered as a way to be strong. It is clear that these films are not for entertaining but they are the messages Lee wants to tell to the world like his quotation in Fist of Fury: “Chinese are not sick men”. As a result, martial arts movies have a great impact on Western society. Up until now, martial film genre becomes so popular in the West, especially The "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" won four Oscars in 2001 and earned 208 million US dollars globally (Xinhua 2005). Furthermore, I find out that Zhen (2000) and Beale (2000) share a same view about why Kung fu film is reasonably hot as ‘audiences love these films because it gives them something overblown action movies don't give them’ and ‘Among all the film genres invented and reinvented in this century in different parts of the world, the martial arts film, with its foregrounded body language and spectacular visual choreography, is one of the few genres whose popularity is the most far reaching’. Besides, Bruce Lee’s legacy is also inspiration for the next generation’s actors such as Jackie Chan, Jet Li, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme, each with unique martial arts type. Since Bruce Lee first introduced Kung Fu to Western people, it has been an era of martial arts movie with hundreds of blockbusters. I...
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