Legacies of the drunken master: politics of the body in Hong Kong Kung Fu comedy films

White, Luke ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-7080-7243 (2020) Legacies of the drunken master: politics of the body in Hong Kong Kung Fu comedy films. Asia Pop! . University of Hawai'i Press, Honolulu, USA. pbk-ISBN 9780824881573, e-ISBN 9780824882983, e-ISBN 9780824882990, e-ISBN 9780824883003. [Book] (doi:10.1515/9780824882983)


In 1978, the film Drunken Master caused a stir in Hong Kong cinema, mixing martial arts and knockabout humour to huge box office success, breaking the mould of the ‘serious’ (tragic-heroic) martial arts film and sparking a trend for kung fu comedies. However, the kung fu comedy remains under-represented in the literature on martial arts cinema.

Legacies of the Drunken Master investigates this genre in relation to its shifting historical contexts: the aftermath of the radical youth movements of the 1960s; a (post-)colonial, globalizing Hong Kong sitting in the shadow of the Cultural Revolution; the emerging consciousness of the 1997 handover of the colony to Chinese control; and the transnationalisation of cinema audiences. My analysis interrogates the politics of these films within these contexts, with special regard to their representations of the performing body.

The book draws on an interdisciplinary engagement with popular culture, as well as interrogating the critical literature on Hong Kong and martial arts cinema, in order to offer original readings in terms of carnival, utopia, violence, hysteria and masculinity. It focuses on the heyday of the kung fu comedy in the 1970s and 1980s, but also explores its later developments, and its ‘legacy’ in cinematic culture today.

Item Type: Book
Keywords (uncontrolled): martial arts cinema, kung fu, comedy, Hong Kong culture, postcolonial identity, Jackie Chan, performance, slapstick, the body, carnival, hysteria, masculinity, violence, utopia, Walter Benjamin, Mikhail Bakhtin, the body, transnational cinema
Research Areas: A. > School of Art and Design
A. > School of Art and Design > Visual Arts
A. > School of Art and Design > Visual Arts > Diasporas
A. > School of Art and Design > Visual Arts > Visual Culture and Curating cluster
Item ID: 25426
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Luke White
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 14:43
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2022 10:33
URI: https://eprints.mdx.ac.uk/id/eprint/25426

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