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 Blog and tagged ballet, books, china, Chinese, cinema, cross-dressing, culture, feminism, film, gender, gender politics, Hua Mulan, literature, Mulan, musical, opera, theatre, TV
I really enjoyed Tientsin Mystic back in 2018 and wanted to wait for a suitable occasion to write about it. Now that we’re in Novel Coronavirus lockdown, I am, as usual, working my hours in publishing, as well as being in the middle of a Chinese culture project, in this case, my new book. However, apart from staying in and social distancing, looking after your mental welfare, is something that I can use my particular skills to contribute to. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the series, but this means I can write about the salient themes that have stood the test of time, without spoiling much of the plot.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, culture, drama, fantasy, historical, novel, review, TV
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.
Posted in Blog and tagged china, Chinese, comics, commentary, culture, diversity, Iron Fist, Marvel, Netflix, review, TV
When I heard that Philip K. Dick ‘s “The Man in the High Castle” was coming to TV, I was trepidatious. Film versions of PKD’s work have been hit and miss, from the rather hammy “Total Recall” with Arnie, to the seminal scifi-noir “Bladerunner”. When I heard that Ridley Scott, Bladerunner’s helmsman would be in the director’s seat, I was very pleased. “Bladerunner” had a profound influence on my sense my sci-fi aesthetics, and no doubt on the works of many subsequent sci-fi directors and artists. As a writer on Chinese culture, I can’t help but also highlight the technical expertise and style that Chinese Cinema’s Godfather, Run Run Shaw, brought to the project.
Posted in Blog and tagged Amazon, book, china, Chinese, culture, Folio Society, Philip K Dick, Sci-Fi, The Man in the High Castle, TV
As “Legend of Korra” finishes its second season on British TV, its third season in the US and a fourth season is announced, I thought it would be a good time to gather my thoughts for a second article on the elements of Chinese culture from which the series draws inspiration. I will be touching on “Last Airbender” for themes that sweep across both series. In the last article I looked at the traditional Chinese stylistic influences on “Korra”, in this article, I will explore the historical and cultural elements which inspired the storytellers.
Posted in Blog and tagged Avatar, Ba Gua, Boxer Rebellion, cartoon, china, Chinese, Ci Xi, Hong Xiu Quan, Kangxi, Legend of Korra, Qianlong, Red Lotus, tai chi, The Last Airbender, TV, White Lotus