OK, so we’ve got the Five Tigers of Hong Kong cinema (Michael Miu, Andy Lau, Tony Leung, Ken Tong, Felix Wong) plus Steven Chow, Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. And there are Michelle Yeo, Chow Yun Fat, and Zhang Ziyi as well as a host of others. So let’s say I want to create a film festival introducing my American friends to the best kung fu movies. What would you recommend as must-see movies and why? In what order would you like to view them, and why?
Archive for February, 2008
In Chapter 8 of the novel of Three Kingdoms the bad guy Dong Zhuo makes a habit of throwing banquets with sinister intent – either to threaten ministers into compying with his plans to usurp the throne, or to intimidate anyone who disagrees with him. In one open-air banquet in this chapter, he eats happily while having various horrible things done to prisoners of war in front of him and his guests – eye-gouging, cutting off of hands, feets, tongues, etc. The other ministers lose their appetites, but his is undisturbed.
This reminds me of one of the stories about Vlad the Impaler, a Transylvanian nobleman whose exploits were so nasty he became known to history as Dracula. Vlad enjoyed impaling his enemies on stakes through their rear ends, then hoisting them off the ground and watching while they struggled to get their feet on solid earth, which of course only drove the stakes further into their vitals. Vlad is particularly notorious for an outdoor feast he held, surrounded by hundreds of his struggling, groaning bleeding victims on their stakes.
Vlad lived in the fifteenth century, so too late to be an influence on the composition of Three Kingdoms, but perhaps some version of the Chinese tale had filtered down to him? Or do ghastly evil cruel tyrants tend to think alike?