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 Wuxia - not for Westerners?

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achillesgirl



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Registration date : 2009-04-08

PostSubject: Wuxia - not for Westerners?   Mon May 25, 2009 11:53 pm

I recently read something online (don't remember where) that said Westerners, in general, do not enjoy the wuxia genre because the blend of fantasy and reality feels unrealistic and unbelievable. This is apparently why relatively few wuxia novels are translated into English. I really don't get it. I was raised up on Western fare and I LOVE wuxia!

I also feel that the notion that Westerners are uncomfortable with the blend is fundamentally incorrect because wuxia has many immediate correlations with our Western "superhero" genre. When you move past the surface cultural differences, just how different is Fox Volant of Snowy Mountain from Batman? Or Superman? Why is the ability to levitate up the side of a mountain any less realistic than the ability to fly? X-Men, Blade, Aquaman, The Thing, Wonder Woman: Westerners seem to be quite comfortable with the blend of fantasy and reality. So why not wuxia?

It may be that Western explanations of our heroes' superpowers are "scientific" (cryptonite/spider hormones/radiation) and wuxia superpowers are based on "non-scientific" mental and physical disciplines. But if that is the case, then what's up with "the force" in Star Wars??

It seems to me that Western hero stories reflect familiar Anglo traditions (le.g. The Lord of the Rings) and Chinese hero stories do not, and that this cultural unfamiliarity may be the underlying reason for general Western discomfort with wuxia.

I wonder.

What do you think?
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Raoul

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PostSubject: Re: Wuxia - not for Westerners?   Tue May 26, 2009 2:45 am

I think you covered a lot of good points there achillesgirl and ultimately culture does have an impact on a person's taste. I know in a previous thread we discussed how comedy elements don't always translate between cultures - though essentially it does come down to the individual.

But for wuxia-pien, I do think this sub-genre does is particularly viewed critically by western audiences. Unfamiliarity with these old school wuxia novels and the whole culture of them is pretty evident. I mean we all grow up in the west hearing legends of Merlin, Robin Hood, etc.

I would imagine that no matter the culture, or even the person, if you didn't grow up hearing whatever stories, you probably would have a fixed view on what is fiction and what is unbelievable.

Personally I don't mind wuxia movies - not at the top of my list of sub-genres, but I would still prefer this to a lot of western fantasy movies. I like the themes in the stories being woven, though this was overshadowed by the 1980s and the dawn of fast-cuts which yes, made action incredible to watch, but often made the plot less significant.

It'll be interesting to see what others have to add on this!
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Drunken Master

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PostSubject: Re: Wuxia - not for Westerners?   Wed May 27, 2009 2:59 am

I think a lot has to do with how much you embrace fantasy film making in general. I prefer my martial arts to be more grounded in reality. Seeing a performer doing classy physical moves with a minimum of wire work always gets my interest more than gravity defying superhuman stuff, but then again I do appreaciate that a superhuman element goes with "fantastic" kung fu. Wuxia is one sub genre that often takes the fantasical as the expected norm, so I accept that. Like Raoul, I wouldn't say it is one of my favourite style of movies, but when the mood takes me I find them entertaining enough.

As a matter of interest, what Wuxia pics are among your favourites? (This is open to all forum members.)
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achillesgirl



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PostSubject: Re: Wuxia - not for Westerners?   Wed May 27, 2009 11:44 am

Drunken Master wrote:

As a matter of interest, what Wuxia pics are among your favourites? (This is open to all forum members.)

Swordsman II! Bride with White Hair. I also enjoyed the recent TV series Fox Volant of Snowy Mountain and think it was well done.
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Raoul

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PostSubject: Re: Wuxia - not for Westerners?   Fri May 29, 2009 3:22 am

I still think that the Shaw Brothers made the best wuxia movies (well think about how many they produced). Before becoming a director, Derek Yee starred in quite a few great wuxia roles - Death Duel is great! Also Clans of Intrigue with Ti Lung was an enjoyable movie, though I'm not sure if it is strictly wuxia as it was primarily plot driven and a good old mystery movie at that.

New Tales of Flying Fox was also brilliant; quite predictable but still outstanding.

Can't forget Ching Siu Tung's contribution for the sub-genre through as he's an expert at crafting wuxia-style fights. Duel to the Death and Dragon Inn are textbook examples of how to shoot a swordfight!

Oh, and The Blade excellent .
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ZuRa



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PostSubject: Re: Wuxia - not for Westerners?   Wed Oct 12, 2011 5:27 pm

Personally NO Wuxia come over the top hough there is KungFu element in Wuxia . The drama/politics of it is boring also culturally historically speaking the various periods/eras are alien to us . We dont know the cultural significance or the history of the era . The only Wuxia I liked was Hero for the cinematography and its artistic nature . really disliked Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon though was a huge fan of Chow Yun fat thanks to Killer.

Among decent times only good Wuxia was Detective Dee but plot gets too complicated convoluted towards the end of the movie
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