I would like to thank Chuck Kleinhans and Julia Lesage for their editorial guidance, and Genevieve Fong and Eric Greenfeld for their comments on earlier drafts of this essay.
1. I am not an expert in Hong Kong cinema or the martial arts. However, I recognize Hollywood’s domination in the international film market and in film culture, and I observe and analyze how Orientalism serves as a framework in the reception of films made in Asia. My scholarly focus is in racial representation and feminism, and my work includes what I formulate as "New Orientalism," the transnational media form of which Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a part.
2. I am making an effort to make the word "hero" gender-neutral by using it to refer to women and men instead of using the derivative form, "heroine."
3. Kenneth Chan, “The Global Return of the Wu Xia Pian (Chinese Sword-Fighting Movie): Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” in Cinema Journal, Vol. 43, No. 4.
4. In Sheldon Lu’s book, China, Transnational Visuality, Global Postmodernity (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2001.)
5. Aaron Anderson, “Violent dances in martial arts films,” in JUMP CUT: A Review of Contemporary Media, no. 44, Fall 2001.
6. A study of how Asian American audiences read and embrace Asian cinema, specifically the kung fu genre, would reveal relevant patterns of Asian American identity-formation and cultural pride. Their (our) response to the genre is veritably different than that of white audiences, I believe. I know from what students have told me, for example, that Bruce Lee played an important role in instilling a sense of masculinity and power for young Asian American men.
7. This often takes form in revenge for the unjust killing of a sifu, or a clan member.
8. The four cardinal virtues in Confucianism are these: filial piety, brotherly love, loyalty, and trustworthiness.
9. The primary inaugural text is Xiang Kairan’s Legend of the Strange Hero, published in Shanghai in the 1920s and taking film form for the first of many adaptations in the film, Burning of the Red Lotus Monastery (1928).
10. Kung fu is a term used mostly in the west; Chinese call the genre wu dar (unarmed martial arts) or wuxia (armed, mostly with swords).
11. Like heroism, how realism is adapted in different historical and political settings reflects certain societal desires. This in turn, reflects cultural viewing preferences. For example, “fantastique” swordplay films infuse society with notions of magical escape from social constraints, while the classic wuxia pian emphasizes a traditional style of fighting along with traditional, Confucian values. And the romantic or melodramatic martial arts films feature female protagonists, often with mystical powers and romantic involvements. In recognizing the varieties of ways and contexts in which realism is represented, we can begin to understand the nuances and situations in which women can become action heroes, and under what philosophical or stylistic conditions.
12. And also as in musicals, the fact of choreography does not hinder (and in fact, facilitates) the fact of the performance: the dance is done.
13. L.S. Kim, “American Orientalism and the Political Aesthetics of National Identity,” forthcoming.
14. David Bordwell notes that within the universe of swordplay and kung fun, often “there is not an appeal to the law; the hero must wreak punishment on those who have wronged him; he must rely on his friends and his master, an overt father-figure. If his friend or his boss betrays him, he is plunged into despair but his vengeance will be fearsome” (42, Bordwell). In other words, heroism in Chinese swordplay tradition is outside the law, and perhaps this also is what enables women (in a Confucian and patrilineal society) to become heroes.
15. Lu also describes Zhang as possessing a “gifted ‘Oriental’ sensibility.”
16. Personal communication, 5 April 2001.
17. Interview with James Schamus, Spring 2001, Berkeley, California.
18. Chiang Kai-shek banned films that combined martial arts with magic (89, Stokes and Hoover).
Anderson, Aaron. (Fall 2001). “Violent dances in martial arts films,” JUMP CUT: A Review of Contemporary Media.
Arnold, Gina. (2001, January 27). “Bad Girls on Film.” The Scotsman, p.2.
Billson, Anne. (2000, December 31). “The yin and yang of box office.” Telegraph (London), p. 7.
Bordwell, David. (2000). Planet Hong Kong: Popular Cinema and the Art of Entertainment. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.
Chan, Kenneth. (Summer 2004). “The Global Return of the Wu Xia Pian (Chinese Sword-Fighting Movie): Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” Cinema Journal, pp. 3-17.
Chow, Rey. (1995). Primitive Passions: Visuality, Sexuaility, Ethnography, and Contemporary Chinese Cinema. New York: Columbia University Press.
Chute, David. (2001, April). "The Asian Evasion." Premiere, pp. 36-38.
Desser, David. (2000). "The Kung Fu Craze: Hong Kong Cinema’s First American Reception." In Poshek Fu & David Desser (Eds.), The Cinema of Hong Kong: History, Arts, Identity. (pp. 19-43). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Fu, Poshek. (2000). "Between Nationalism and Colonialism: Mainland Émigrés Marginal Culture, and Hong Kong Cinema 1937-1941." In Poshek Fu & David Desser (Eds.), The Cinema of Hong Kong: History, Arts, Identity. (pp. 199-226). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Denerstein, Robert. (2000, December 22). “‘Tiger’ Packs Punches But Soothes the Beast with its Beauty.” Denver Rocky Mountain News, p. 7D.
Dissanayake, Wimal (Ed.). (1994). Colonialism & Nationalism in Asian Cinema. Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press.
Goodwin, Christopher. (2001, February 11). “Crouching men, flying tigresses.” Times (London).
Kehr, Dave. (2001, January 14). “In Theaters Now: The Asian Alternative.” The New York Times, p.1, Arts and Leisure.
Kirkland, Bruce. (2000, December 3). “Kicking Subtitle Butt.” The Toronto Sun, p.S14.
Koo, Siu-fung. (1981). "Philosophy and Tradition in the Swordplay Film." In A Study of the Hong Kong Swordplay Film (1945-1980) (pp. 25-46). 5th Hong Kong International Film Festival. Presented by the Urban Council.
Landler, Mark. (2001, February 27). “Lee’s ‘Tiger,’ Celebrated Everywhere But at Home.” The New York Times, p.E1.
Lee, Ang (Director), & Schamus, James (Executive Producer). (2000). Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon [Film].
Lin, Nien-tung. (1981). "The Martial Arts Hero." In A Study of the Hong Kong Swordplay Film (1945-1980) (pp. 11-24). 5th Hong Kong International Film Festival. Presented by the Urban Council.
Logan, Bey. (1995). Hong Kong Action Cinema. Woodstock, N.Y.: The Overlook Press.
Lu, Sheldon Hsiao-peng. (1997). "National Cinema, Cultural Critique, Transnational Capital: The Films of Zhang Yimou." In Sheldon Hsiao-peng Lu (Ed.), Transnational Chinese Cinemas: Identity, Nationhood, Gender (pp. 105-136). Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.
Lu, Sheldon H. and Ciecko, Anne. (2001). "The Heroic Trio: Anita Mui, Maggie Cheung, Michelle Yeoh — Self-Reflexivity and the Globablization of the Hong Kong Action Heroine." In Sheldon H. Lu, China, Transnational Visuality, Global Postmodernity (pp. 122-138). Stanford: Stanford University Press.
Marchetti, Gina. (1993). Romance and the “Yellow Peril:” Race, Sex, and Discursive Strategies in Hollywood Fiction. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Marquand, Robert. (2001, February 9). “’Crouching Tiger’ and the Chinese Way.” The Christian Science Monitor, p.1.
Monk, Katherine. (2000, December 13). “Movieland stunts go retro.” The Ottawa Citizen, p. B9.
Ong, Aihwa. (1999). Flexible Citizenship: The Cultural Logics of Transnationality. Durham: Duke University Press.
Ross, Steve. (2001, February 17). “A flop in the east.” The Irish Times, p.65.
Rennie, David. (2001, January 13). “Balletic kung fu blockbuster gets the chop in China.” The Daily Telegraph (London), p.22.
Schamus, James. (2000, November 5). “The Polyglot Task of Writing the Global Cinema.” The New York Times, p. 25, Arts and Leisure.
Stokes, Lisa Odham, and Hoover, Michael. (1999). City on Fire: Hong Kong Cinema. London, UK: Verso.
Tan, Cheryl Lu-Lien. (2001, January 21). “Flying the face of tradition.” The Baltimore Sun, p. 2F.
Teo, Larry. (2001, January 26). “A triumphant roar for Taiwan filmmaker Lee.” The Straits Times (Singapore), p.1.
Teo, Stephen. (2000). "The 1970s: Movement and Transition." In Poshek Fu & David Desser (Eds.), The Cinema of Hong Kong: History, Arts, Identity. (pp. 90-110). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Teo, Stephen. (2000, December). “Love and Swords: The Dialectics of Martial Arts Romance.” Senses of Cinema [on-line serial]. Available: http://www.sensesofcinema.com/
Yau, Esther. (1994). "Border Crossing: Mainland China’s Presence in Hong Kong Cinema." In Nick Browne, Paul G. Pickowicz, Vivian Sobchack, & Esther Yau (Eds.), New Chinese Cinemas: Forms, Identities, Politics (pp. 180-201). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Yeun, Wo Ping (Director). (1994) Wing Chun [Film].