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The Development of Chinese Five Hero Films

2020-05-23 来源: 51Due教员组 类别: Report范文

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下面为大家整理一篇优秀的essay代写范文- The Development of Chinese Five Hero Films。本文将通过考察无下片,最早的动作片以及相关的著名演员和导演,来主要反映中国武术片(也称为功夫片)的一般发展路径。

在中国武术电影中,有一种像武侠电影。这类电影的主题是展示武侠精神,也被称为剑客精神,这是中国文化中的一种独特现象。正是这种特殊的文化孕育了另一种中国文化奇迹-五峡电影作品。武侠电影借助不断变化的拍摄技术,将伟大的武术家的精神进行了电影化,并在一定程度上丰富了这种精神的内涵。

 

This essay will mainly reflect the general development path of the Chinese martial arts films (also known as kung fu films) by going through wuxia films, earliest action films, and those famous actors and director involved.

Among Chinese martial arts films, there is a genre as wuxia film. The theme of this kind of films aims at demonstrating wuxia spirit, which is also referred as swordsman spirit, a unique phenomenon in Chinese culture. It is this particular culture that has bred another Chinese culture marvel—wuxia filmic productions. With the help of ever-changing filming technique, wuxia films cinematize the spirit of great martial artists, and in a degree, they even enrich the content of this spirit.

Before moving on to the development of Chinese martial art films, a clearer definition should be made. As martial art film is a very board concept that from a timing perspective, it crosses a period of around 100 years; from a region angle, it ranges from films shot in mainland China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong; and to sort out, martial arts (kung fu) films can be further divided into wuxia film and action film—action films’ focus are the kung fu movements but wuxia pictures are replete with the wuxia spirit. Though ideas has been diversified on the classification of martial art movie, herein this essay, Chinese martial arts filmic productions include wuxia film and action film which are produced in mainland China, Hong Kong. 

Affected by factors as region politics, Chinese film development, and Chinese culture, the progress of martial art filmic productions went through ups-and-downs. In a light of periodic characteristics, its development can be generally divided into 5 stages.

 

The Naissance—Age of Tales

During the late 1920s to early 1930s, China had its third tide of commercial films.  Among all initial Chinese filmized dramas, martial art films appeared earliest and gained its genre in the first place. According to Collection of Chinese Films, within the 4 years between 1928 and 1931, 227 local shootings were launched in cinemas.  (China Film Archive, 1960)

Yet, this period has gained a name of the era of tales due to the fact that those films bear little resemblance to what we call kung fu films today. They are products of unconsciousness, since both elements, the wuxia spirit and martial art, appeared as fragments. (Jinyu, 2010) Many movies tended to play up the battle scene, rather than the spirit of it. In other words, the swordsmanship was employed as a showcase of force, and the sequence of kung fu were also abrasive. It can be assumed that at that time, filmgoers’ interests mainly went to the marvelous plots and personages. Strictly speaking, martial art films at that time only took a preliminary existence and were far from mature.

 

The Realization—Age of chivalry

Later during 1940s and 1950s, kung fu film production, which was originally based in Shanghai region, moved to Hong Kong and took over the Hong Kong Cantonese film industry. A great amount of Cantonese-speaking kung fu films were shot. The 1950s witnessed the thriving of a series of Wong Fei-hung films.

Wong series, a combination of spirit and action sequence, depicted the legend stories of the chivalrous martial artist. Though films at this time continued the story-focusing tradition, Wong films wielded the proper martial arts forms, while portraying moralistic messages and righteous values. In Foshan, Guangdong Province, Wong spread kung fu practice, cured the injured, upholding the justice. He not only gained respect by prepared folks with kung fu, and his medicine treatment also contributed to his high reputation. Nowadays, he is memorized as a representative of morality and chivalry, which partly should be attributed to the influence of Wong series. Therefore the trend of Wong Fei-hung films signals the turning from story to chivalry in the development of Chinese wuxia films.

However, this phase did not last long. As we see that the contents are filled with lecturing, although they are meant to be encouraging, they seem obsolete. The battle scene still lack a sense of actual wrestling, overly inkling to performance borrowed from Beijing opera.(“The History of Chinese Martial Art Films”, 2010) Probably what people admire more are segments heavily-loaded with local culture, such as the Cantonese dialect and custom like wushi (lion dance, a traditional practice in Canton to celebrate important events).  

 

The First Climax—Age of Martial Art

As a genre film, the true mature of kung fu films had not come until the mid 1960s, and till late 1970s, this period can be regarded as the third stage. The biggest Hong Kong filming studio of the 1960s and 1970s, Shaw Brothers, employed top wuxia films directors like King Hu and Chang Cheh, whose work is considered as the top standard of that period. “Viewers were enthralled by the way they used camera angles and editing to make you believe real blood was being spilt.” (Perfect Serendipity, 2003)

Maybe the most sounding martial artist for all kung fu fans around the world is Bruce Lee. 1971, sponsored by Hong Kong Golden Harvest Studio, Lee started his journey in movie industry with movie The Big Boss. With a low investment, this movie broke all box office records in Hong Kong at the time and triggered his meteoric rise to fame. (Jeffsalor, 2013) Entering 1972, with Golden Harvest doubling the investment, Lee starred in Fist of Fury which was even more popular and broke the Asian box office record. After that, one after another, Lee’s 5 films left him a matchless reputation in the history of kung fu filmic industry. To analyze factors leading to his success, besides his star quality and stories which fit to the concern for the destiny of Chinese ethnic, the most important one should be the tussles unique in his way. Lee was a charming mixture of both profound thinking and kung fu performances. His major in college was philosophy, but he devoted all his spare time into studying of kung fu, and his devotion finally made himself an adept in kung fu philosophy and Jeet Kune Do, a school of Korean marital art. Nowadays, his philosophy remains classic among a large number of kung fu fans.

Strictly speaking, Lee’s movies should be categorized into action rather than wuxia. Some people believe, “in the 1970s, these films brought out a more authentic and credible form of martial arts. The themes of these films focused more on vindication, training and victory, pushed the film industry toward unarmed combat rather than the sword play in earlier martial arts films.” (Miller, 2003)

It is a phase of the rising of kung fu films, where a lot of figures in this industry stepped onto the stage and various school of filming sprout, therefore this phase is also praised as the Golden Age. To sum up, the success of this age should not simply attribute to the changes—Mandarin Chinese replacing Cantonese, color film replacing the black-and-white—but to the discovery of the soul of the martial film, which allowed filmmakers to produce films featuring the martial art itself. (“The History of Chinese Martial Art Films”, 2010)

To specify, firstly, it set right the performance of kung fu as the core in the conception process of film and its production. Secondly, it gave rise to the status of action directors. It was interesting that in earliest action movies, the film directors were unfamiliar with martial arts techniques, and therefore required assistance from martial arts instructors, lifting them from advisor to action director of the film. Through this change, experiences of unprecedented concept, filming technique, scenery arrangement can be accumulated and passed down by action directors. Lastly, cinematic narration was always in need of a proper tempo to show the movements, which finally was satisfied by well-designed fight sequences. In this sense, kung fu performance became a fundamental language of this genre.

This phase put kung fu films on multifarious platforms that formed by innovated martial art movements, and during which kung fu films embraced its time.

 

The Veering—Age of Entertainment and Neo-picture

Then arrived the 1980s and 1990s. Unlike the transfer from mainland China to Hong Kong during second stage, during this decade, main production base spanned both regions. When the idea of kung fu comedy took shape on the island, new attempts were practiced on the north. Moreover, a new practice of filming— co-production—arose. In this phase, the major feature of the filming, which is described as entertainment and neo-pictures, was the pursuit of diversified styles.   

In mainland China, though martial art films were in the ascendant, but they were also hindered by pressures of mainstream ideology and traditional film conception. At its commencement were void concept, crude techniques and poor experiences of genre film production. Dozens of martial art films produced during this period had barely other value except serving as a record of history and a part of this trend. (“The History of Chinese Martial Art Films”, 2010) Compared with martial art films from Hong Kong and Taiwan, they were too little as whole.

On the other side at the “exotic” corner of China, Hong Kong kung fu productions slid to its comparatively waning years. One best example was Jakie Chan’s turning to kung fu comedies. By starring in Snake in the Eagles Shadow and Drunken Master in 1978, Chen’s fame roared up fast, becoming another kung fu star after Bruce Lee.

Instead of traditional wuxia clichés, he chose modern action movies. In 1980, he even directed a kung fu film the Young Master, and after that, he participated in a lot of gangster movies. (“Jakie Chan”, 2014) These action movies were deeply rooted in the style of classic kung fu, but with an element of comedy which has transformed the genre into several mainstream movie hits. The character makes use of whatever he can take for handy—desk, chairs, bowls, and basins. In the performance of these films, a taste of comedy emerges in every single moves, all the hiding, dodging, and punching. Consequently, this new invention of Chinese marital art movies turned a new page of the development of kung fu films. Yet, what should not be neglect is that while constructing a new form of martial art films, it in some degree shook the status of wuxia films.

The wuxia film found its break-through in the form of co-production. In 1982, Hong Kong director Chang Hsin Yen cracked the mainland market with film Shaolin Temple. This film made another phenomenon in the development of Chinese marital art films, creating a new box office record in mainland China, and it also discovered another star in Chinese marital art film industry—Jet Li.

Li came from a background of traditional martial art study. He was champions of several national martial art contests. In Shaolin Temple he made his debut and continued with a series of these pictures. As a result of the training background, his martial art actions are powerful and standard. Differential from the techniques of Jakie Chan, Li’s battle movements seem more calm and indifferent, without gaudy distractions. Therefore, his roles usually are committing heroes who refuse to give in to the antagonists. These characters mostly have strong determination in the eyes, but occasionally, some saucy acts also impress audiences. (“Jet Li Biography”, 1998)

In general, the 1980s is inferior as the Forming age. The best of this time are all produced by joint effort, such as, Shaolin Temple, Kids from Shaolin, and Little Heroes.

 

The Rising—Age of Globalization

In the new millennium, joint production between mainland China and Hong Kong continues, and another trend—the participation of more parties—goes up. Manifesting by the widely-admired film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, it seems that the Chinese wuxia filming also goes international as Globalization develops.

This international success was on in 2000 and well-received as one of the most influential Chinese film in the Western world, sweeping dozens of film festivals—winning over 40 awards. As Rey Chow has written about the problematic in China’s representation in cinema, he believe “the way Chinese films have represent both to itself and the Western world just across a boundary of unequal economic power.” (Rey & Harootunian & Masao, 1996)

Director Ang Lee, who is from Taiwan and with a filming education background from the U.S., employed a cast from American, mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, offering audiences with a navigation of diverse landscape in mainland China through Gobi desert to the southern Bamboo Forest to the ancient metropolis of Peking. (Julie Ng, 2001)

The globalized production has not weakened the Chinese elements within the pictures. Its camera work leads viewers into the graceful spirit and struggling status quo of Li Mu Bai and Jen by natural and effortless flows with their actions rather than flashy scenes and exaggerated wire-stunt fighting. It does not marginalize actual fighting skills and make action sequence acrobatics. Some almost silent long takes plus close-up views prolong the tension and make the emotion of characters float out from the screen into the air, into the breath of audiences. Though it is a tiger but crouching, a dragon but hidden. It risks the almost common element of kung fu films, the thrilling tight moves for calmness, which seems to be a quite wise tactic in today.  Maybe it is the reason why it can boost the popularity of Chinese kung fu over the world.

Some categorize Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon as a humanistic film. This stream of film emphasizes the identities of characters, inclining to unveil their inner thinking and struggles to carry out the development of story. A dip in this stream adds subtlety to characterization of this humanistic blockbuster films, and subsequently, other directors shot myriad work in attempts to tap the rich reservoir of Chinese wuxia tradition.

     Hero of Yimou Zhang is one of those pictures. This ambitious film is an answer to the examination for Chinese film industry brought by globalization and commercialization, which also marked his veering in his aesthetic identity. (Harrison, 2006) The film covers a historical story of Jinke’s assassination of Qin emperor. This event is recorded in the Historical Records among those famous chivalrous assassinations legend.

The cinematic art of Hero is praised as the martial arts poem painted in color that connects color with sound, emotion, and meaning. Black was the color of the Qin dynasty, the dynasty ruled by a tyrant. Saturated red is Zhang’s color for intense passion and jealousy—in Hero love demands loyalty, blood, and life. The use of golden yellow is full of life. After that, the translucent green curtains of the palace illuminate the heroism of Flying Snow and Broken Sword as they try to kill the emperor and fail. (Kwok & Lau, 2007)

To sum up, this period though seems like Chinese wuxia film welcomes another springing of neo-wuxia film production, to keep the tradition of wuxia spirit and bring out fabulous marital art sequence and cinematic art requires innovation. As mentioned above, that wuxia film went through the age of tales, age of chivalry, age of martial art, and age of neo-picture, it means the cinemagoers have experienced marvelous stories, chivalrous heroes, flashy fights, and excellent filmic art. Whatever coming films to be shown would be no longer original for them. Therefore, what those extended crews convened by globalization can achieve still remains unknown.

 

 

Reference

 

China Film Archive,1960,Collection of Chinese Films.Beijing: China Film Archive

Chow, R., Harootunian, H., & Miyoshi, M. (1996). Global/local: Cultural production and the transnational imaginary. R. Wilson, & W. Dissanayake (Eds.). Duke University Press.

Harrison, M. (2006). Zhang Yimou's Hero and the Globalisation of Propoganda. Millennium-Journal of International Studies, 34(2), 569-572.

Jackie Chan. (2014). The Biography.com website. Retrieved  April 10, 2014, from

http://www.biography.com/people/jackie-chan-9542080.

Jeffsalor. (2013, November 27). Bruce Lee: The Big Boss Retrieved April 10, 2014, from

http://www.onesixthwarriors.com/forum/front-page-news/728431-enterbay-1-6-bruce-lee-big-boss.html

Jenny Kwok,.& Wah Lau. (2007). A Review of Contemporary Media. Jump Cut,  49(1)

Jinyu (2010, April 28). Wuxia films soaked with Chinese traditions [Web log post]. Retrieved April 8, 2014, from

http://blog.163.com/jin_yu_1228/blog/static/12264827720103281232430/

Jet Li Biography. (1998). Jet Li Official Website. Retrieved April 9, 2014, from

http://jetli.com/jet/index.php?s=life&ss=biography&l=en

Julie Ng. (2001).Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Retrieved April 10, 2014, from

http://cinesarnia.com/Descriptions/2001%20winter/Crouching%20Tiger.pdf

Miller. (2003). History of Martial Arts Films [Web log post]. Retrieved April 9, 2014, from

http://www.ehow.com/about_6521385_history-martial-arts-films.html

Perfect Serendipity. (2003, January 19). Do We Need Another Hero? [Web log post]. Retrieved April 8, 2014, from

http://www.wu-jing.org/News/M03/2003-01-Wuxia-01-Themes.php

2010, The History of Chinese Martial Art Films. Baidu Library. Retrieved April 8, 2014, from

http://wenku.baidu.com/view/757d4c26dd36a32d737581cf.html 

 

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