Vicissitudes of violence: Hong Kong martial arts cinema and the 1966/7 unrest

White, Luke ORCID logoORCID: (2012) Vicissitudes of violence: Hong Kong martial arts cinema and the 1966/7 unrest. In: Genre Beyond Hollywood, 8 July 2012, University of Southampton. . [Conference or Workshop Item]


Generic popular culture has often been understood to involve a contract, compromise or code shared between cinematic producers and their audience and as articulating, in Andrew Tudor's phrase, 'a shared moral and social world', however conflictual the basis of such a world may be. Such worlds and the generic structures which articulate them are, of course, in constant flux.
In this paper I am interested in exploring the shifting characteristics of the martial-arts-based cinema made by Hong Kong's largest studio, Shaw Brothers, in relation to its social world. Tracing such changes takes us from the increasingly violent and masculinised wuxiapian (swordplay movies) of the late 1960s through the 'classic' era of 'kung fu' heroism, as exemplified in the Shaw Brothers Shaolin cycle, through to the darker, more dystopian return to swordplay towards the end of the decade.
Central in my analysis of the link of such films to a context is the rise of violent political dissent towards colonial rule and social inequality in the late 1960s, and the subsequent liquidation, in Hong Kong itself, as well as across the South-East Asian region which constituted Shaw Brothers' key market, of such movements. How can we read the forms of cinematic violence in the martial arts film in relation to the failure of such social movements, and to the forms of uneasy consensus that was formed in their aftermath?

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords (uncontrolled): Hong Kong cinema, kung fu, martial arts, violence in film, riots, postcolonial, decolonisation, decolonization, Frantz Fanon, Maoism, 1968, Chang Cheh, Bruce Lee, Chor Yuen, political violence.
Research Areas: 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: 9759
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Luke White
Date Deposited: 22 Jan 2013 05:03
Last Modified: 28 Mar 2022 10:33

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Activity Overview
6 month trend
6 month trend

Additional statistics are available via IRStats2.