Hong Kong film industry is the pioneer of Chinese film industry. It has started to develop since 1890. Known as the "China Dream Factory" and "Oriental Hollywood", Hong Kong used to be the main film industry center of the cross China area, even in Asia and the world. There are different stages of the industry and the success of Kung Fu films in the 1970s is definitely a marked stage. Indeed, martial arts films help present Hong Kong and Chinese Culture to the eyes of the world. No doubt, Bruce Lee has played a significant role of promoting Chinese Kung Fu to the world though the production of Kung Fu films in the 1970s. From the balletic intensity of him to the gravity-defying swordplay of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, the Chinese martial arts film has captured audiences' imaginations around the world. Its global impact can be seen in the Hollywood crossover of stars like Jackie Chan and Hong Kong influenced films like The Matrix. (Hunt, 2003)
In this essay, I am going to talk about the development of Kung Fu films in Hong Kong, and discuss the influence of Bruce Lee to action films in Hong Kong. Development of Kung Fu films in Hong Kong
1) Definition of Martial Art Films. In martial arts films, Marilyn Mintz defines such films as one in which “competence as a martial arts performer determines role and behavior in the plot” (Mintz, 1978). At that time, it was probably still possible to delimit the genre in this way; the Chinese Kung Fu film and Chinese and Japanese swordplay films marked out a fictional world as distinct as the western. (Hunt, 2003) 2) Early martial arts films. The genre emerged first in Chinese popular literature. The early 20th century saw an explosion of what were called Wu-Xia novels. These were tales of heroic, sword-wielding warriors, often featuring mystical or fantasy elements. This genre was quickly seized on by early Chinese films. Starting in the 1920s, Wu-Xia titles, often adapted from novels (for example, 1928's The Burning of the Red Lotus Monastery and its eighteen sequels) were hugely popular and the genre dominated Chinese film for several years. The boom came to an end in the 1930s, caused by official opposition from cultural and political elites, especially the Chinese Nationalist Party, who saw it as promoting superstition and violent anarchy. Wu-Xia film making was picked up in Hong Kong, at the time a British colony with a highly liberal economy and culture and a developing film industry. The first martial arts film in Cantonese, the dominant Chinese spoken language of Hong Kong, was The Adorned Pavilion. Therefore, Hong Kong started to become the main production center of Martial Arts films. 3) Postwar martial arts cinema. At that time, there were different effect added into the films such as animation and special effects drawn directly on the film by hand were used to simulate the flying abilities and other preternatural powers of characters. Counter traditions to the Wu-Xia films were also produced at this time. These movies emphasized more "authentic", down-to-earth and unarmed combat over the swordplay and mysticism of Wu-Xia. The most famous exemplar was real-life martial artist Kwan Tak-Hing who became an avuncular hero figure by playing historical folk hero Wong Fei-Hung in a series of roughly one hundred movies, from 1949 to 1970.You can also find the influence of Chinese opera with its stylized martial arts and acrobatics; and the concept of martial arts heroes as exponents of Confucian ethics in the films. 4) "New School" Wu-Xia. In the second half of the 1960s, the era's biggest studio, Shaw Brothers, inaugurated a new generation of Wu-Xia films. These Mandarin productions were more lavish, in color and widescreen; their style was less fantastical and more intense, with stronger and more acrobatic violence. The editing and cinematography influenced by Japan and Hollywood cinema. (Bren, 2004) Moreover, the content is mainly affected by the...
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Infuences of Bruce Lee. (2010). Retrieved on 19 Nov,2011 from http://www.moorburn.com/points/6899.
Introduction of Jackie Chan. (2010). Retrieved on 18 Nov,2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jackie_Chan.
Bleecker, T. (1996). Unsettled Matters: The Life and Death of Bruce Lee. Lompoc, CA: Gilderoy Publication.
Bren, L. K. (2004). Hong Kong Cinema – A cross culture view. Scarecrow Press, INC.
Hunt, L. (2003). Kung Fu Cult Master – From Bruce Lee to Crouching Tight. Wallflower Press.
Lee, V. (2009). Hong Kong Cinema Since 1997 – The Post-Nostalgic Imagination. Digital age, Palgrave Macmillan.
Roensch, G. (2002). Bruce Lee. New York. Rosen Pub. Group.
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