Beyond Bruce Lee: Chasing the Dragon Through Film, Philosophy, and Popular Culture

Columbia University Press
8
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In order to understand Bruce Lee, we must look beyond Bruce Lee to the artist's intricate cultural and historical contexts. This work begins by contextualising Lee, examining his films and martial arts work, and his changing cultural status within different times and places. The text examines Bruce Lee's films and philosophy in relation to the popular culture and cultural politics of the 1960s and 1970s, and it addresses the resurgence of his popularity in Hong Kong and China in the twenty-first century. The study also explores Lee's ongoing legacy and influence in the West, considering his function as a shifting symbol of ethnic politics and the ways in which he continues to inform Hollywood film-fight choreography. Beyond Bruce Lee ultimately argues Lee is best understood in terms of "cultural translation" and that his interventions and importance are ongoing.
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About the author

Paul Bowman teaches cultural studies at Cardiff University. He is author of numerous books on visual culture, cultural politics, and popular culture, including Post-Marxism Versus Cultural Studies, Deconstructing Popular Culture, and Theorizing Bruce Lee. He is editor of many collections on film, cultural studies, postcolonialism, and poststructuralism.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Columbia University Press
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Published on
Mar 26, 2013
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Pages
224
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ISBN
9780231850360
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Language
English
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Genres
Art / Film & Video
Performing Arts / Film / General
Performing Arts / Film / Guides & Reviews
Performing Arts / Film / History & Criticism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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At the core of Martial Arts Cinema and Hong Kong Modernity: Aesthetics, Representation, Circulation is a fascinating paradox: the martial arts film, long regarded as a vehicle of Chinese cultural nationalism, can also be understood as a mass cultural expression of Hong Kong’s modern urban-industrial society. This important and popular genre, Man-Fung Yip argues, articulates the experiential qualities, the competing social subjectivities and gender discourses, as well as the heightened circulation of capital, people, goods, information, and technologies in Hong Kong of the 1960s and 1970s. In addition to providing a novel conceptual framework for the study of Hong Kong martial arts cinema and shedding light on the nexus between social change and cultural/aesthetic form, this book offers perceptive analyses of individual films, including not only the canonical works of King Hu, Chang Cheh, and Bruce Lee, but also many lesser-known ones by Lau Kar-leung and Chor Yuen, among others, that have not been adequately discussed before. Thoroughly researched and lucidly written, Yip’s stimulating study will ignite debates in new directions for both scholars and fans of Chinese-language martial arts cinema.“Yip subjects critical clichés to rigorous examination, moving beyond generalized notions of martial arts cinema’s appeal and offering up informed scrutiny of every facet of the genre. He has the ability to encapsulate these films’ particularities with cogent examples and, at the same time, demonstrate a thorough familiarity with the historical context in which this endlessly fascinating genre arose.”
—David Desser, professor emeritus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

“Eschewing a reductive chronology, Yip offers a persuasive, detailed, and sophisticated excavation of martial arts cinema which is read through and in relation to rapid transformation of Hong Kong in the 1960s and 1970s. An exemplar of critical genre study, this book represents a significant contribution to the discipline.”
—Yvonne Tasker, professor of film studies and dean of the Faculty of Arts and Humanities, University of East Anglia
In The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora, Kin-Yan Szeto critically examines three of the most internationally famous martial arts film artists to arise out of the Chinese diaspora and travel far from their homelands to find commercial success in the world at large: Ang Lee, John Woo, and Jackie Chan. Positing the idea that these filmmakers' success is evidence of a "cosmopolitical awareness" arising from their cross-cultural ideological engagements and geopolitical displacements, Szeto demonstrates how this unique perspective allows these three filmmakers to develop and act in the transnational environment of media production, distribution, and consumption.

Beginning with a historical retrospective on Chinese martial arts films as a diasporic film genre and the transnational styles and ideologies of the filmmakers themselves, Szeto uses case studies to explore in depth how the forces of colonialism, Chinese nationalism, and Western imperialism shaped the identities and work of Lee, Woo, and Chan. Addressed in the volume is the groundbreaking martial arts swordplay film that achieves global success-Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon- and its revelations about Hollywood representations of Asians, as well as concepts of male and female masculinity in the swordplay film tradition. Also investigated is the invigoration of contemporary gangster, thriller, and war films by John Woo, whose combination of artistic and historical contexts has contributed to his global success.

Szeto then dissects Chan's mimetic representation of masculinity in his films, and the influences of his Chinese theater and martial arts training on his work. Szeto outlines the similarities and differences between the three artists' films, especially their treatments of gender, sexuality, and power. She concludes by analyzing their films as metaphors for their working conditions in the Chinese diaspora and Hollywood, and demonstrating how through their works, Lee, Woo, and Chan communicate not only with the rest of the world but also with each other.

Far from a book simply about three filmmakers, The Martial Arts Cinema of the Chinese Diaspora investigates the transnational nature of films, the geopolitics of culture and race, and the depths of masculinity and power in movies. Szeto's interdisciplinary approach calls for nothing less than a paradigm shift in the study of Chinese diasporic filmmakers and the embodiment of cosmopolitical perspectives in the martial arts genre.
Women and Gender in Chinese Martial Arts Films of the New Millennium, by Ya-chen Chen, is an excavation of underexposed gender issues focusing mainly on contradictory and troubled feminism in the film narratives. In the cinematic world of martial arts films, one can easily find representations of women of Ancient China released from the constraints of patriarchal social order to revel in a dreamlike space of their own. They can develop themselves, protect themselves, and even defeat or conquer men. This world not only frees women from the convention of foot-binding, but it also "unbinds" them in terms of education, critical thinking, talent, ambition, opportunities to socialize with different men, and the freedom or right to both choose their spouse and decide their own fate. Chen calls this phenomenon "Chinese cinematic martial arts feminism."

The liberation is never sustaining or complete, however; Chen reveals the presence of a glass ceiling marking the maximal exercise of feminism and women's rights which the patriarchal order is willing to accept. As such, these films are not to be seen as celebrations of feminist liberation, but as enunciations of the patriarchal authority that suffuses "Chinese cinematic martial arts feminism." The film narratives under examination include Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (directed by Ang Lee); Hero (Zhang Yimou); House of the Flying Daggers (Zhang Yimou); Seven Swords (Tsui Hark); The Promise (Chen Kaige); The Banquet (Feng Xiaogang); and Curst of the Golden Flower (Zhang Yimou). Chen also touches upon the plots of two of the earliest award-winning Chinese martial arts films, A Touch of Zen and Legend of the Mountain, both directed by King Hu.
"Bruce Lee is a complex and contradictory figure, and it's a formidable task to take on the multiple facets of his legacyûfighter, film star, philosopher, nationalist, multiculturalist, innovator. With an approach as multidisciplinary and iconoclastic as Lee's approach to martial arts, Bowman provides an original and exhilarating account of Lee as 'cultural event'. No one has done a better job of explaining why the martial arts 'legend' remains such an important and provocative figure."ûLeon Hunt (Brunel University), author of Kung Fu Cult Masters: From Bruce Lee to Crouching Tiger.

"Taking on Martin Heidegger and Slavoj ÄiPek as well as drawing on Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Guy Debord, Jacques RanciFre, Rey Chow, and Stuart Hall, among others, Bowman shows how Bruce Lee 'speaks' to the philosophical debates that frame our understanding of global popular culture today. Although Bowman may not be able to resolve the philosophical battles surrounding our ability to 'know' Bruce Lee, he does a remarkable job of articulating why Bruce Lee remains an essential force within not only world cinema but global culture û both 'high' and 'low.' Armoured with his philosophical nunchakus, Bowman goes to battle with anyone who may doubt Lee's ongoing importance, and this book will undoubtedly become essential reading for everyone (from philosopher to kung fu practitioner) interested in popular culture and Asian cinema."ûGina Marchetti (University of Hong Kong), author of Romance and the "Yellow Peril": Race, Sex and Discursive Strategies in Hollywood Fiction, and From Tian'anmen to Times Square: Transnational China and the Chinese Diaspora on Global Screens, 1989-1997.

Theorizing Bruce Lee is a unique work, which uses cultural theory to analyse and assess Bruce Lee, and uses Bruce Lee to analyse and assess cultural theory. Lee is shown to be a major 'event' in both global film and global popular culture û a figure who is central to many intercultural encounters, texts, and practices. Many key elements of film and cultural theory are employed to theorize Bruce Lee, and Lee is shown to be a complex û and consequential û multimedia, multidisciplinary and multicultural phenomenon. Theorizing Bruce Lee is essential reading for anyone interested in Bruce Lee in popular culture and as an object of academic study.
The only tie-in book for USA’s award-winning series MR. ROBOT, Elliot’s journal—Red Wheelbarrow—is written by show creator Sam Esmail and show writer Courtney Looney.
 
Before and during the events of season two, Elliot recorded his most private thoughts in this journal—and now you can hold this piece of the series in your hands. Experience Elliot’s battles to gain control of his life and his struggles to survive increasingly dangerous circumstances, in a brand-new story rendered in his own words.
 
The notebook also holds seven removable artifacts—a ripped-out page, a newspaper clipping, a mysterious envelope, and more—along with sketches throughout the book. You’ll discover the story behind MR. ROBOT season two and hints of what is to come. This book is the ultimate journey into the world of the show—and a key to hacking the mind of its main character.
 
MR. ROBOT is a psychological thriller that follows Elliot (Rami Malek, The Pacific), a young programmer, who works as a cyber-security engineer by day and as a vigilante hacker by night. Elliot finds himself at a crossroads when the mysterious leader (Christian Slater, Adderall Diaries) of an underground hacker group recruits him to destroy the firm he is paid to protect.

Praise for MR. ROBOT:
 
“Relentless, sensational, and unabashedly suspenseful” —The New York Times

“. . . most narratively and visually daring drama series on television . . .” —Entertainment Weekly

“Terrific” —The New Yorker

“Sam Esmail is one of the most innovative creators to make his mark on television in a long time.” —Rolling Stone

“A modern classic” —Forbes

“MR. ROBOT has the potential to be one of the defining shows of our age.” —TIME

“Brilliant” —The Huffington Post
 
Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series, Drama, and Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television (Christian Slater)
 
Critics’ Choice® Awards for Best Drama Series, Best Actor in a Drama Series (Rami Malek), and Best Supporting Actor in a Drama Series (Christian Slater)

Emmy Award® for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (Rami Malek)
 
Five Emmy® nominations, including for Outstanding Drama Series
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