Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Sex, Kung Fu and Cultural divide

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Kung Fu movies. If I had to chose between meeting Spielberg or Jackie Chan I'd want to meet Jackie. Jet Li is pretty darned impressive, too. And let us not neglect Bruce.

Not to favor the chinese overmuch but Steven Segal and even the incredibly sexy Van Damme come in second. Plus, they have the same problem as Chuck Norris, which is that their movies don't really age that well.

The aging problem could well be cultural. A movie set in Hong Kong or China, even if "modern" rather than set in an Historical time period, is always going to be foreign in so many ways. Maybe to a movie-goer in Hong Kong their movies age badly too. I mean, the female lead can be a complete ditz in a Hong Kong movie and it's no big deal, yet this is what I find most annoying in US movies that are a few years old. Stupid women. On second thought, even the oldest Hong Kong movies I watch... say, like the ones Jackie made when he was in his early 20's tended to have non-stupid, kick butt female characters.

BUT it may be significant that these non-stupid, kick butt female characters are not "love interest" characters. In fact, there is little sex in Kung Fu movies at all. So is it that the Hong Kong movie industry is particularly prudish or that the particular genre of Kung Fu excludes sex? I mean... Jackie got kissed once... on the *cheek*. I recall Bruce abstaining from sexual debachery while other "competitors" went for wine, women and song. He had an almost a monkish sort of austerity. In Kiss of the Dragon, Jet Li explains that he's never been with a prostitute, not ever, and at the end he holds Bridget Fonda's hand with no sexual undertone at all. Other characters are portrayed as letches so maybe it's just the hero that isn't supposed to give in to carnal urges?

Partly why I've been thinking about this is the whining about the movie Fatal Attraction 2 and how Americans are such prudes that we censor sexy stuff, that we'd rather see blood and guts than a little T and A. Like this is a bad thing. Even in American martial arts movies, the sexual content seems to be carried on by someone other than the chinese star... sort of making me wonder if they are the ones who say they absolutely will not, no way, you can't make me. Because non-chinese stars of American martial arts movies don't seem to follow the same restrictions.

Which all leads to me, as an aspiring script writer, to wonder if, at some level, no-sex doesn't work in Jackie or Jet Li's favor. Do movie goers, women like me, maybe respond more strongly to the austerity and modesty than we would respond to an actor who is pretty much pimping himself on the screen? Do blood sacrifices for friends play stronger than we realize when most of what we see involves romantic rather than platonic attachments?

Maybe, I should change the notes that I'm making to take out the romantic elements and change them for platonic same-sex friendship and loyalty elements.

It's something to think about.


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