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Peter Ho-Sun Chan's He's a Woman, She's a Man

Peter Ho-Sun Chan's He's a Woman, She's a Man

Lisa Odham Stokes
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 164
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  • Book Info
    Peter Ho-Sun Chan's He's a Woman, She's a Man
    Book Description:

    This raucous, gender-stretching comedy follows the disruptions of a glamorous Hong Kong music couple's tumultuous romance by an "ordinary" fan's noisy arrival in their lives. With great comic story development, the film confronts social stereotypes of masculine females, male anxieties about homosexuality, and the limits of male femininity. This book offers important background on comedic narrative structure in Cantonese opera and other traditional sources that have influenced Hong Kong cinema.

    eISBN: 978-988-8052-62-2
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Series Preface
    (pp. ix-xii)
    Ackbar Abbas and Wimal Dissanayake
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. 1 Comedy and More
    (pp. 1-12)

    Director Peter Chan’s popular, light-hearted, and delightful genderbending “romantic comedy” He’s a Woman, She’s a Man (Golden Branch, Jade Leaf)/Gam ji yuk yip/Jin zhi yu ye (1994) satisfied Hong Kong audiences and crossed over internationally.² Screened at the 19th Hong Kong International Film Festival, the film was described in its program by Chan as “a traditional love story with a dash of contemporary romance”; the director also stated “the message we want to get across is that feminine men are not necessarily gay and masculine women are not necessarily lesbians.” In the film, Leslie Cheung plays homophobic music producer Koo...

  6. 2 Camera, Sound, and Music
    (pp. 13-30)

    Comedy often hides its artistry, and this chapter attempts to reveal it. Credit goes to Chan’s collaborators, director of photography Joe Chan Jun-git, editor Chan Kei-hop, screenwriters James Yuen Saisang and Lee Chi-ngai, composers Clarence Hui Yuen and Chiu Tsang-hei, and lyricist Lam Chik, as well as production designers Hai Chung-man and Lau Man-wa and costume designer Dora Ng Lei-lo, with most of the team reuniting for the sequel, Who’s the Woman?. Chan has always recognized the collaborative nature of filmmaking, as evidenced by his partnership in UFO (United Filmmakers Organization), a collective of directors, writers, actors, and producers who...

  7. 3 Cross-Dressing, Gender-Bending, and Sexual Orientation
    (pp. 31-58)

    Comedy in He’s a Woman, She’s a Man is dependent on character, characterization, situation, and structure, and as Gerald Mast points out, the comic movie has something to say about the relationship between humans and society, either “uphold[ing] the values and assumptions of society, urging the comic character to reform his ways and conform to the societal expectations, or maintain[ing] that the anti-social behavior of the comic character is superior to societal norms.”¹ While Mast presents an either/or situation, Chan’s movie, as we shall see, has it both ways, both reifying and challenging heteronormative values. Depiction of gender and sexual...

  8. 4 Commerce and Globalization
    (pp. 59-84)

    Hong Kong cinema of the 1980s and 1990s, rooted in the historic conjuncture of its colonial and post-colonial relations between Britain and its ties to the Mainland, can be described as “crisis cinema” as new patterns of language, time and space, place and identity, and meaning itself arose. The return of Hong Kong to the Mainland served as text and subtext for filmmakers, and after the crackdown on Tiananmen Square in 1989, Hong Kongers themselves were more politically active than perhaps at any other historical moment. According to Nick Browne, “Narratively speaking, the temporal mode of Hong Kong cinema is...

  9. 5 Audience
    (pp. 85-108)

    Like many other film lovers, I grew up going to the movies with adult family members, seeing the films they wanted to see, films that were beyond me at the time, such as Robert Wise’s I Want to Live! (1958), starring Susan Hayward, and John Huston’s The Misfits (1961), with Clark Gable, Marilyn Monroe, and Montgomery Clift. And I remember the heady days being parked with an older relative at the Saturday all-day kiddie matinee, where children ruled the theater and we were thrilled by creature features, mad scientists, insane comedies, and Sidney Furie’s The Snake Woman (1961). Those were...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 109-144)
  11. Credits
    (pp. 145-148)
  12. Filmography
    (pp. 149-150)
    Peter Ho-sun Chan