Please Don’t Call Me Human: A Review

It’s not hard to tell from the cover that this book is going to be an unpalatable sort of satire. Whilst I find Wang Shuo very interesting as a writer, I found myself waiting for the suitable moment to start this book. When I finally did, the stark committee meeting scene it opens with put me off a couple of times. Having been exposed to the Chinese media in my childhood, there is something in the tone of official committee meetings that is inevitably soporific and dulling to one’s senses. It was not until the plot device of the Big Dream Boxer is revealed at the end of the first chapter, that I really started to engage with the story.


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Iron Fist or Ham-Fist?

A dramatization based on Marvel’s Iron Fist took a long time coming. The comics themselves which began in the 1970s only came into being with the craze for kungfu films in the US at the time, and even with its blatant cultural appropriation and lumping together of all non-white cultures, it was a beacon as a Western comic with a semblance of diversity. The Fraction/Brubaker series in the 90s paid its dues to diversity, nodding to a long line of warriors from different backgrounds, who held the title of Iron Fist, though still representing in quite stereotypical terms the nation the culture of which it owed so much of its world building.

In the 21st century, with the popularity of superheroes TV series, and the success of the “Daredevil” and “Luke Cage”, many have been anticipating one on the warrior of K’un-Lun, and there has been calling from fans and celebrities alike for an Asian casting of its protagonist Danny Rand. The series had been delayed, due to creative debate on the on-screen depiction of the hero’s fiery powers. At last, it was released on Netflix on the 17th of March, and I watched through it all in one go to bring you a continuous commentary on social media. Owing to the positive response I’ve received, here’s a write up of the various themes and points of interest that have come to light.


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So Long 2016

This year has been the Chinese Year of the Monkey. I am sure many feel, as I do, that it has been quite trying in many ways. The monkey is lively, clever, but also mischievous and cheeky, prone to playing naughty pranks and causing disorder before running away, leaving others to their fate. A year under the auspices of this zodiac was bound to be chaotic.


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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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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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Tang Xianzu

The Ming writer Tang Xianzu (1550-1616) is regarded as one of China’s greatest playwrights. Born in Jiangxi into a scholar’s family, Tang exhibited literary talent from the very tender age of five. He lived in a time of government corruption, instability at the Court, when borders north and south crumbled under threat of attack from neighbouring tribes. Despite his prodigious learning, Tang encountered multiple setbacks in the Jinshi exams[1], and declined requests by numerous official that amounted to aiding in cheating. In 1591, he presented a memorandum to the emperor criticizing the idol conduct of servants of the Court, thus offending its key members. Banished to minor posts in poor, remote southernmost regions, he nevertheless worked with dedication and compassion, allowing prison inmates to visit their families during Spring Festival, and attend Lantern Festival celebrations.


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Earl Grey Yin Zhen: DAMMANN Frères

a flash review


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Huo Shan Yellow Bud (JING)

A flash review.


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DiaoChan: the Rise of the Courtesan

I first heard of Red Dragonfly Production last year when they toured the UK with “Autumn of Han”. I was delighted to find a theatre company bringing dramatisations of Chinese stories to the stage. Unfortunately busy schedules meant I missed the show, so it was with great anticipation that I attended the press night for their new play, “DiaoChan: the Rise of the Courtesan”.


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