Star Wars and China

“To rebel is justified”. Mao Ze Dong

Almost every geek in the Western hemisphere, and many on the other side, have anticipated the release of the Star Wars spin off film “Rogue One”. I managed to see it last week, and was impressed with it. I loved how it filled the narrative between Episodes 3 and 4 of the saga, without making itself a necessity, how it tied in very snuggly with animated series “Star Wars Rebels”, which I have also been following, and how, despite its gritty tone, was ultimately uplifting. There is something eternally gratifying about seeing a small, unlikely band of outlaws with more guts than ammo railing against the dread powers that be. What I most loved though, was seeing actors from my home country, Donnie Yen and Jiang Wu, in a movie that is part of a new, sprawling global mythology.


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Introducing the QMUL Confucius Institute Movie Night

I have the pleasure of presenting the first QMUL Confucius Institute Movie Night. Here’s a little from my introduction.


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Kuai Xian

“Kuai Xian”, given the English title of “The Curse of the Chopsticks” is directed by Ji Yu. It begins with an attack on a patient who has just received a transplant at a private eye hospital, their new eyes mangled and a pair of bloody chopsticks left at the scene.


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Midnight Bookstore II

Directed by Du Jingfeng, “Midnight Bookstore II” is an anthology film, linked by the tale of Daoist monk Lu Shiyi (Peng Yusi) on a mission to recover a lost book of secret techniques. During his search Lu senses the auras of those possessed by bad spirits and offers his help along the way. The possessed characters are all drawn to a 24-hour bookshop and the shopkeeper Wu Xiubo (Zhao Jiaqi), a demon slayer whom Lu finds in possession the lost book. During their battle for this book. Wu and Lu end up saving the lives of these people by either restraining the bad spirits with their powers or converting them to good with benevolence.


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30 Years of Big Trouble

Last weekend I went to watch John Carpenter’s “Big Trouble in Little China” on the big screen, on the film’s 30th anniversary. The film, packed with great soundtrack composed by the director himself, punchy script and adventurous plot, has aged well with time. As an academic writer who focuses on Chinese pop culture, I often find myself dealing with subject matter my peers wouldn’t touch with a ten foot barge pole. John Carpenter’s “Big Trouble in Little China” is one such piece. Having just had a chance to see the 1986 film from a 70mm print, for its anniversary, I thought it was worth talking about, considering the impact this film has had on a whole generation of Western cinema goers, many of whom may have never seen the action adventures of the Chinese film industry which inspired this movie.


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Li Lihua

This year, the 35th Hong Kong Film Awards will honour Li Lihua with the Lifetime Achievement Award. As one of the “flowers of Shaw”, I first came across her as I researched “Shaw Sisters: the Fighting Women of Hong Kong Cinema”. I’m pleased that an actor who brought so much to Chinese cinema is being celebrated in this way. For those who may not be familiar with her, I present a short introduction on Li’s contributions to Chinese cinema.


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12 Christmas Gift Ideas for the Sinophile

My English partner once told me, that China should re-Christen themselves the East Pole, claim Father Christmas as one of their own, and tell the children of the world, that he’s just moved closer to where the toys are made.

As we hear sleigh bells on the horizon, I know a lot of you will be facing Christmas with a mixture of excitement and dread, with many of you still hunting for exactly the right gift to spoil your loved ones and friends. Interest in Chinese culture have grown in recent years, and I hope this gift guide may help inspire anyone shopping for a sinophile!


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Peking into Chinese Opera

This weekend sees a brief season of Chinese opera at Sadler’s Wells. I thought I’d write a little about this traditional musical genre.


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13 Chinese Horror Films

The Chinese horror movie industry has really blossomed in the 21st century, especially mainland output. Here is an unlucky selection of Chinese horror movies for you to enjoy over the Halloween weekend.


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Zhong Kui: Snow Girl and the Dark Crystal

The Chinese Lunar calendar doesn’t always match up with ours, and our festivals hardly ever overlap. Whilst the West gets all its gruesome ghosts and ghouls taking centre stage at the end of October, the biggest festival of the dead in China takes place half way through the seventh lunar month. This friday saw the end of Zhong Yuan (or Ghost Month http://snowpavilion.co.uk/zhong-yuan-ghost-month/), and to celebrate, here’s a review of 2015’s big fantasy monster movie, released internationally (but not in the UK yet) in August.


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