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Tsui Hark's Zu

Tsui Hark's Zu: Warriors from the Magic Mountain

Andrew Schroeder
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 124
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  • Book Info
    Tsui Hark's Zu
    Book Description:

    Hong Kong cinema exploded into world culture during the 1990s, driven by its linkage with Hollywood's dynamic new digital special effects technologies. This book provides essential historical background to that remarkable set of events by analyzing the culture, political and technological network surrounding Tsui Hark's masterful but under-appreciated Zu: Warriors From the Magic Mountain. Schroeder examines how the film transformed Hong Kong action cinema from the 1980s to the present, which resulted in its rise as a dominant transnational style in close affiliation with the transformation of Hollywood cinema into a digital technology driven global enterprise.

    eISBN: 978-988-8053-36-0
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Series Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. 1 Seeing Past the Future: An Introduction to Zu: Warriors From the Magic Mountain
    (pp. 1-8)

    Among the many great films of the Hong Kong New Wave, few were more unusual in concept, scope, or eventual patterns of influence than Tsui Hark’s Zu: Warriors From the Magic Mountain. Released in 1983, it was quickly dubbed Hong Kong’s version of Star Wars. The comparison was both a form of praise and of blame, of hope and of resignation, of modernization and capitulation. As such, many critics rightly interpreted Zu: Warriors From the Magic Mountain as a key document of Hong Kong’s conflicted construction of a new social identity in between colonialism and globalism during its post-colonial and...

  6. 2 Speeding Towards Autonomy: Gender, Wuxia, and the Politics of Post-Coloniality in Hong Kong
    (pp. 9-34)

    The plot of Zu: Warriors From the Magic Mountain begins in chaos and ends in balance. Over a stunning wide shot of the sunrise from a beach that anticipates the opening images of Once Upon a Time in China, a narrator intones, “It is in the Fifth Century. China has been suffering from decades of civil war and unrest.” As soon as these words are uttered the sunrise is replaced by a hard cut of rampaging horsemen riding off to battle. Soon, warriors from rival factions will unite to complete a mythic journey to contain and then to destroy an...

  7. 3 Uneven Developments: Optical Effects, Cinematic Space, and Hong Kong’s Bubble Economy
    (pp. 35-64)

    According to the influential Hong Kong filmmaker and cultural critic Evans Chan, Hong Kong cinema has borrowed liberally from Hollywood for quite some time. “For the past two decades,” he argues, “the Hong Kong film industry, never encumbered with a high-modernist tradition, has borrowed left and right from Hollywood movies to keep up its frenzied output.”² Such extensive cultural borrowing, in the absence of the friction of “high modernism,” has worked out well for the industry economically. At the same time, it has pushed mainstream Hong Kong cinema towards an embrace of the common international tropes of “Postmodernism.” As his...

  8. 4 Technologies of Transnationalism: Digitization, Globalization, and the Long March Toward Legend of Zu
    (pp. 65-90)

    After Zu: Warriors From the Magic Mountain was released in the Asian market, Golden Harvest made plans to release a North American version as well. For some reason, maybe imagining that a period drama on Chinese mythology would never sell in the North American market of 1983, they decided that the version of the film sold in Asia would fail to find a significant audience. To solve this anticipated problem, producers at Golden Harvest demanded that Tsui Hark add a few extra minutes at the beginning and at the end of the film as modern “bookends” to the plot. These...

  9. 5 Conclusion: The Meanings of Zu
    (pp. 91-96)

    In the wake of the extraordinary worldwide success of Ang Lee’s wuxia epic, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, critics and representatives of the Hong Kong Film industry felt equally justified in heaving a collective sigh of relief. Who could blame them? After all, the industry had just been through one of the worst downturns in its history following the currency crisis and the Chinese handover in 1997. Surely, an international hit on the magnitude of Crouching Tiger was just what it needed to make the case for its continuing creative and commercial vitality. It was not too long before studio executives...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 97-104)
  11. Filmography
    (pp. 105-108)
  12. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 109-111)