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Masculinities and Hong Kong Cinema

Masculinities and Hong Kong Cinema

Laikwan Pang
Day Wong
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 356
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  • Book Info
    Masculinities and Hong Kong Cinema
    Book Description:

    This collection of exciting essays explores how the representations and the ideologies of masculinities can be productively studied in the context of Hong Kong cinema. It has two objectives: first, to investigate the multiple meanings and manifestations of masculinities in Hong Kong cinema that compliment and contradict each other. Second, to analyze the social and cultural environments that make these representations possible and problematic. Masculinities and Hong Kong Cinema presents a comprehensive picture of how Hong Kong mainstream cinematic masculinities are produced within their own socio-cultural discourses, and how these masculinities are distributed, received, and transformed within the setting of the market place. This volume is divided into three interrelated parts: the local cinematic tradition; the transnational context and reverberations; and the larger production, reception, and mediation environments. The combination of these three perspectives will reveal the dynamics and tensions between the local and the transnational, between production and reception, and between text and context, in the gendered manifestations of Hong Kong cinema.

    eISBN: 978-988-220-222-1
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction: The Diversity of Masculinities in Hong Kong Cinema
    (pp. 1-14)
    Laikwan Pang

    Hong Kong cinema has recently been “discovered” as one of the most interesting and successful alternatives to Hollywood’s dominant global, commercial film market Many critiques of, and academic books on, Hong Kong cinema have been published in the past few years¹ If American cinema is “Hollyworld,” then the movie industry in this small corner of Asia is “Planet Hong Kong”² Both cinemas are celebrated and criticized for their long traditions, contributions to cinematic conventions, transnational appeal, and market ideology If the wealth of scholarship and criticism has established the discursive coherency of Hollywood cinema as a unified body with its...

  6. Part I History and Lineage

    • 1 Making Movies Male: Zhang Che and the Shaw Brothers Martial Arts Movies, 1965–1975
      (pp. 17-34)
      David Desser

      It is a cliché of Hong Kong film history that Zhang Che and King Hu (Hu Jinquan) revolutionized the martial arts movie at Shaw Brothers in the 1960s. Here is a typical recitation, along with the now also-familiar differences between the two directors: “In the 60s and 70s, it was the Shaw Brothers studio which advanced a new century in film chronology with the ‘New Style Martial Arts Pictures.’ Leading the trend were the directors Zhang Che and King Hu ... Zhang directed on the precept of yanggang (masculinity) and he employed a stock company of male actors for this...

    • 2 Post-1997 Hong Kong Masculinity
      (pp. 35-56)
      Laikwan Pang

      Contrary to local and international predictions in the 1980s and 1990s, 1997 was not the end of Hong Kong’s history. But looking back at the seven-year “postcolonial” period, most Hong Kong people would agree that the new Hong Kong did not evolve as expected. Self-governance, which Hong Kong people yearned and fought for before 1997, became the greatest source of frustration. Questions were raised about almost everything Hong Kong people were proud of in the colonial system — like the efficient civil service, laissez-faire economy, flourishing realestate market, and even the public housing and public healthcare systems. Pride disappeared, to be...

    • 3 Queering Masculinity in Hong Kong Movies
      (pp. 57-80)
      Travis S. K. Kong

      In the history of Hong Kong movies it has been possible only to hint at homosexuality or to pathologize it. However, since the 1990s more diverse representations of gay and lesbian culture have slowly emerged. Happy Together (Chunguang zhaxie) (dir. Wong Kar-wai, 1997) features a gorgeous gay couple, Leslie Cheung (Zhang Guorong) and Tony Leung Chiu-wai (Liang Chaowei), who, bored with their lives, embark on a trip to Buenos Aires to save their relationship. Resembling HBO’s TV hit series Sex and the City, the Now. Com series 20/30 Dictionary features To Man-chat (Du Wenze), one of the protagonists, as an...

    • 4 Unsung Heroes: Reading Transgender Subjectivities in Hong Kong Action Cinema
      (pp. 81-98)
      Helen Hok-sze Leung

      In her introduction to the “transgender issue” of the journal GLQ, Susan Stryker offers a definition of transgender that captures the nuance and complexity of the term:

      ... I use transgender not to refer to one particular identity or way of being embodied but rather as an umbrella term for a wide variety of bodily effects that disrupt or denaturalize heteronormatively constructed linkages between an individual’s anatomy at birth, a nonconsensually assigned gender category, psychical identifications with the sexed body images and/or gendered subject positions, and the performance of specifically gendered social, sexual, or kinship functions.¹

      In Stryker’s formulation, transgender...

  7. Part II Transnational Significations

    • 5 Kung Fu Films in Diaspora: Death of the Bamboo Hero
      (pp. 101-118)
      Sheng-mei Ma

      In our global village scholarly attention has turned increasingly to Hong Kong kung fu films, exported to the world via Tsui Hark (Xu Ke), Jackie Chan (Cheng Long), Jet Li (Li Lianjie), Yuen Wo-ping (Yuan Heping), and others. In the past decade or so, two strains of writing on what I call “Hongllywood” films have emerged: film orientalists who see in Hong Kong cinema a cultural alternative to mainstream Western productions; and film nostalgics who consider the Chinese/transnational identity as celluloid constructed. At their worst, such writings degenerate into fanzines’ plot summaries or the fetishization of celebrities. At best, they...

    • 6 Obtuse Music and the Nebulous Males: The Haunting Presence of Taiwan in Hong Kong Films of the 1990s
      (pp. 119-136)
      Shen Shiao-Ying

      In the 2001 Taiwan Golden Horse Awards, many of the top honors went to Hong Kong films with strong narrative connections to China, for example Lan yu (dir. Stanley Kwan, 2001) and Durian Durian (Liulian piaopiao) (dir. Fruit Chan, 2000).¹ It seems, as we move into the twentyfirst century, China’s presence in Hong Kong cinema will become increasingly prominent, and ironically Taiwan’s Golden Horse becomes more and more an arena which observes and highlights this trend.² As I write this chapter, news arrives about plans on how Teresa Teng (Deng Lijun)’s villa in Hong Kong is to be sold and...

    • 7 Fighting Female Masculinity: Women Warriors and Their Foreignness in Hong Kong Action Cinema of the 1980s
      (pp. 137-154)
      Kwai-cheung Lo

      Does maleness automatically produce masculinity?

      Is there a kind of masculinity independent of the biological male?

      Can the women who kill in action cinema occupy a position that has been historically thought of as exclusively masculine?

      In her book Female Masculinity, Judith Halberstam argues that there exists a group of lesbians who see themselves as masculine females. Rather than a simple derivative, imitation or impersonation of male masculinity, “female masculinity,” she finds, is actually a specific gender with its own cultural history.¹ Trying to remove the stigma of female masculinity so it has an empowering image and identity that give...

    • 8 An Unworthy Subject: Slaughter, Cannibalism and Postcoloniality
      (pp. 155-174)
      James A. Steintrager

      In the introduction to Hong Kong: Culture and the Politics of Disappearance, Ackbar Abbas claims that the space invoked in his title marks a particularly interesting conjunction of colonialism and postcoloniality, of multiple crisscrossings of global flows and local idiosyncrasies. Published in 1997, this study makes much of the impending handover. This is an event that looms so large on the horizon that it forces Hong Kong’s citizens to take account of a cultural identity that has become apparent only in hindsight. The term Abbas coins for this situation takes the commonplace French expression “déja vu” and gives it a...

  8. Part III Production, Reception, and Mediation

    • 9 Bringing Breasts into the Mainstream
      (pp. 177-198)
      Yeeshan Chan

      This chapter is an attempt to present, based on interviews and participant observation, the perspectives of Hong Kong filmmakers behind popular productions.¹ In line with the Hollywood experience, the worse the economy, the more profit there is to be made in comedies.² In Hong Kong, La Brassiere [Jueshi hao “Bra”] (dir. Patrick Leung, Chan Hingkar, 2001) and Beauty and the Breast [Fengxiong mi “Cup”] (dir. Raymond Yip, 2002),³ both made in an extravagant comedic style, were well received by the masses in the midst of Hong Kong’s economic downturn.⁴ The key reason for their success is that women’s breasts are...

    • 10 Post-Fordist Production and the Re-appropriation of Hong Kong Masculinity in Hollywood
      (pp. 199-220)
      Wai Kit Choi

      In “The Marxism of Rosa Luxemburg,” an essay in History and Class Consciousness, Lukacs writes that “it is not the primacy of economic motives in historical explanation that constitutes the decisive difference between Marxism and bourgeois thought, but the point of view of totality.”¹

      In this chapter I will show how changes in cultural representation in the media relate to changes in the organization of capitalist production, while at the same time demonstrating the independence of the former from the latter. This chapter then is an attempt to analyze cultural representation by steering clear of both a solipsistic textual analysis...

    • 11 Masculinities in Self-Invention: Critics’ Discourses on Kung Fu-Action Movies and Comedies
      (pp. 221-238)
      Agnes S. M. Ku

      Hong Kong cinema is known across the world for its production of muscular bodies. Among the most notable are those belonging to kung fu king Bruce Lee (Li Xiaolong), Zhang Che’s martial arts heroes in his “new wuxia pian” (new style martial arts films) in earlier decades, stunt-performing megastar Jackie Chan (Cheng Long), and John Woo (Wu Yusen)’s gunfighters of recent memory. Just as the virile bodies of Hong Kong have made themselves the object of conspicuous display worldwide, the question of masculinity or the masculine body in Hong Kong movies is beginning to “surge” in film criticisms and scholarly...

    • 12 Women’s Reception of Mainstream Hong Kong Cinema
      (pp. 239-260)
      Day Wong

      From the 1950s to the 1960s melodramas were popular in Hong Kong’s film culture. A group of young female stars ruled the screen. Later, action films and comedies became the leading genres. This shift marked a phasing out of female-audience-oriented productions and their replacement with those of prominent male taste and ideology. Early media critiques, which focused primarily on image-based textual analysis, were concerned with the misrepresentation of gender and the reproduction of dominant ideologies in popular culture. However, such studies have been increasingly questioned on two grounds. First, media messages are diverse, diffuse and contradictory. It is difficult to...

  9. Notes
    (pp. 261-296)
  10. Glossary
    (pp. 297-316)
  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 317-332)
  12. Index
    (pp. 333-344)