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Yuen Woo Ping's WING CHUN

Yuen Woo Ping's WING CHUN

Sasha Vojković
Copyright Date: 2009
Pages: 156
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  • Book Info
    Yuen Woo Ping's WING CHUN
    Book Description:

    Yuen Woo Ping's kung fu comedy based on the legendary female character Wing Chun is a landmark of action choreography and heroic womanhood in Chinese cinema. This book explores Wing Chun's narrative representation of femininity and the martial arts genre, its history, traditions and cultural influences. While studio-made Hong Kong genre cinema has stressed action over narrative, Wing Chun offers a more egalitarian gender imaginary rooted in Daoist and Buddhist thought. The book provides new insights on the non-linear cinematic storytelling of the film. This is the first in-depth study of the work of Yuen Woo Ping, the well-known Hong Kong film director and action choreographer who achieved international recognition as an action choreographer of films such as The Matrix; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; and Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2.

    eISBN: 978-988-8053-40-7
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Series Preface
    (pp. vii-x)
    Ackbar Abbas and Wimal Dissanayake
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. 1 Yuen Woo Ping and the Art of Empowering Female Characters
    (pp. 1-22)

    Yuen Woo Ping’s films do not conform to the traditional notions of film art and stylistic innovation, and his status as author is not so self-evident. Unlike the “New Wavers,” the cosmopolitan filmmakers who rejuvenated Hong Kong’s production framework by bringing Western standards to the industry, Yuen Woo Ping, like Sammo Hung and Corey Yuen Kuei, is a studio-trained director who began his career in the late 1970s by reviving the martial arts film.¹ Although Yuen is acknowledged as one of the filmmakers who introduced comic elements into the kung fu genre,² he is not perceived as an author who...

  6. 2 Structuring the Narrative: Becoming “Wing Chun”
    (pp. 23-40)

    The type of narratological analysis that I propose for the study of Wing Chun implicates first of all the three levels that a narrative comprises — the text, the story, and the fabula. A narrative text is a text in which an agent relates — tells — a story in a particular medium such as film (Bal 1997). To follow Mieke Bal’s working definition of narrative, a story is a fabula that is presented in a certain manner, and a fabula is a series of logically and chronologically related events. The story determines a specific rhetoric that has direct implications...

  7. 3 The Power of Female Action
    (pp. 41-66)

    Considering that Wing Chun’s main function in this narrative is to propel action, she can also be understood as a frame of reference, a slot to be filled. The fact that she is elaborated as a “flat” rather than a “psychologically round” character may give the impression that this film is banal, too obvious, and overtly simplistic. In terms of cinematic storytelling, the construction of Wing Chun’s character-image is basically restricted to a series of tableaux where she repeatedly overpowers her male opponents. According to David Bordwell, by American standards many Hong Kong films (of all genres) “look broadly played,...

  8. 4 The Universe of Yuen Woo Ping
    (pp. 67-108)

    Due to the specific aspects and elements of narrative bound up with cultural norms and rules, as well as filmic devices developed to cater these story worlds, Hong Kong films resist the approaches of more traditional film theory. As I suggested at the outset, one of the most important reasons why the Hong Kong martial arts genre is so appealing to international (predominantly Western) audiences is because these films frequently work contrary to the laws of common sense that govern the social imagination of Western traditions.

    On the basis of a close analysis of the film Wing Chun, in the...

  9. 5 Re-thinking Conceptual Tools, Re-framing Imaginary Solutions
    (pp. 109-120)

    The types of imaginary solutions that can occur in a given narrative, such as the idea that a woman can save the world, are bound up with the legal sensibility of a concrete socio-cultural imaginary. As we are constantly reminded, within the Chinese cultural context, alternative structures of signification are at work, and the potential for imagining alternative female characters acquires new dimensions. This presupposes also that the notorious Freudian division between the sexes — active/male versus passive/female — needs to be complemented with the models of signification at work in Chinese society. For example, the Taoist rule of contraries...

  10. Notes
    (pp. 121-132)
  11. Filmography
    (pp. 133-136)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 137-142)