A type of Cdrama and film that has been very popular over the last decade, is the Tang Dynasty mystery, tales of detection, court intrigue and crime solving adapted from novels by well-known writers of the 21st century, yet set in ancient China. One reason for the current focus on Tang Dynasty culture, is that China is once again at an economic and cultural peak, recalling its greatest gold age in history. One key figure that immortalised this perfect combination of the Tang setting and tale of mystery, is Di Renjie.
Posted in Commentary, Culture and tagged china, Chinese, crime fiction, culture, detective fiction, Di Renjie, fiction, film, Gong An, Judge Dee, novels, Robert Van Gulik
There is something special about seeing yourself on the big screen, and if not yourself, then someone who you can see yourself as, or recognise yourself in. This is one reason why Pixar’s Turning Red has been such a big thing, coming out at a time when it looked as though the studio would sooner do another movie following Bugs’ Lives, than putting an East-Asian in the protagonists driving seat.
Now, I’ve never been a ‘Disney kid’, so I was still cautious as I sat down to watch the film, having been stung twice by the mouse’s Mulan. But… I was charmed, enthralled, and thoroughly entertained by the story, and of course, characters who looked like me.
Posted in Commentary and tagged animation, china, Chinese, culture, deity, Disney, film, panda, Pixar, Turning Red
Donghua (Chinese for animation) has spread its wings internationally over the last decade, so impressive have been the currents it’s generated that even big Western studios like Disney, are capitalising on the trend. But its history of donghua goes all the way back to the early twentieth century. This is a talk I delivered for at Amecon in 2008, at the UK premier of Storm Rider: Clash of Evils. Having discovered that certain ageing white academics have helped themselves to my talk for ‘research’ without crediting me, I removed it from Myspace. Today, I’m making it available, in honour of the release of Domee Shi’s Turning Red. If you do use it for whatever project, put my name in the sources, and in return, put a little towards my research materials, or, buy me a cup of tea.
Posted in Blog2, Culture and tagged animation, china, Chinese, culture, donghua, film, history
For those of you finally seeing the back of the Christmas weight gain, have some sympathy for those of us who live with a foot in both China, and the West, and are now heading again into further festivities. With nearly two weeks of celebration, mainly marked by meals, snacks, and other culinary over indulgences, it’s no surprise that China has collectively decided to escape into cinema for a respite from food and family.
As usual, anticipation has built up over the last few months for the greatest annual celebration in the Chinese calendar, and among the food shopping, clothes buying, and decorating, bookings have been flooding in to cinemas by the millions, reserving seats during what is now the busiest cinema season of the year. Hesuipian, or “films to celebrate the birth of a new year” are now integral part of Spring Festival, but the tradition only really established itself in the late 90s.
Posted in Culture and tagged china, Chinese, cinema, culture, film, hesuipian, new year movie, pop culture, Spring Festival
Recently, White Snake 2: The Tribulation of Green Snake came out on Netflix. This release brings us a unique experience of the Legend of White Snake in a contemporary adaptation, in the most accessible of media and platforms. As the tale of these (literally) millennium-old snake spirits become part of the global cultural consciousness, here’s a quick look at how they came into being.
Posted in Culture and tagged animation, china, Chinese, culture, film, folktale, legend, literature, mythology, Netflix, White Snake
As a culture writer, a Chinese person, and a comics nerd, I’ve had a deep interest in the character of Shang-Chi, and the way he has been used over the last half century. I’ve written about him in the build up to Marvel’s first Asian led movie, but now that I have seen the film, and had a chance to really digest it, I’ve got a lot to discuss.
Posted in Commentary and tagged china, Chinese, cinema, comics, culture, film, Ghost Month, kungfu, Mandarin, Marvel, MCU, reaction, Shang-chi, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, wushu, Wuxia
As Chinese New Year draws close, it’s worth spotlighting a relatively recent tradition, the ‘Hesuipian’, literally, “film to celebrate the birth of a new year”, the New Year Movie, which has now become a tradition of four decades.
Posted in Culture and tagged action, black hmour, china, Chinese, Chinese New Year, Christmas movie, cinema, comedy, family, film, hesuipian, movie, new year movie, Scifi, Spring Festival
I did some work on Shang-chi for a project last year, which didn’t materialise due to the pandemic. The filming of the MCU movie was delayed, also due to COVID_19. Now that it’s finally in the can, I’m celebrating its shaqing by reworking the contents of that unfortunate project into an article that looks at the pitfalls and potential of Marvel’s cultural representation of a character whose origins were so problematic, and yet whose development through the decades of comics has been so interesting.
Posted in Commentary and tagged china, Chinese, cinema, comics, cultural appropriation, culture, diversity, film, kungfu, Marvel, MCU, movie, racism, representation, Shang-chi
In the first part of my Mulan article, I discussed what the Disney animation meant for the Chinese in China, as well as for global audiences; looked at the initial trailer of the new live action film and talked about what I hope to see in it. To understand Mulan’s significance as a cultural icon fully, we need to go to her origins and see how she evolved. I will focusing on two relatively recent film adaptations that have made the greatest impact around the world (China included), so we could see where Mulan is culturally, particularly in terms of her representation in cinema, just before a new major work comes out.
Posted in Culture and tagged ballet, books, china, Chinese, cinema, cross-dressing, culture, feminism, film, gender, gender politics, Hua Mulan, literature, Mulan, musical, opera, theatre, TV