Reinventing the Myth of a Traditional Chinese Martial Arts Hero in Industrial Society: The Story of Wong Fei Hung (1847-1925)

By Ricardo K. S. Mak.

Published by The International Journal of Literary Humanities

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Published online: June 24, 2015 $US5.00

Speaking broadly, myths include all stories that reveal faiths, beliefs, and perceptions of particular groups of people. Myths, though merely a mixture of facts and falsities, knowledge, hearsay, reality, and wishes, endure because individuals, as well as communities, make sense of their existence through creating and believing in myths. The life of Wong Fei Hung, who is widely known as the grandmaster that developed the modern day Hunggar boxing style, has been mythicized by hundreds of movies, publications, TV shows, etc. produced in Hong Kong since the Second World War. In an industrial society in which traditions and martial arts appear passé, the myth of Wong Fei Hung continually transforms and evolves, addressing the changing political, social, and cultural realities of each new era of postwar Hong Kong. In the Wong Fei Hung movies (starring Guan Dexing, Gordon Liu, and Jet Li sequentially) that this paper investigates, he was once a rural social leader, later becoming a defender of traditions, and finally a reluctant nationalist. His myth serves as a guide that reflects the changing experience of people from Hong Kong through various stages of change.

Keywords: Myth, Kung Fu Movies, Huang Feihong

The International Journal of Literary Humanities, Volume 13, Issue 3, September 2015, pp.33-46. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Published online: June 24, 2015 (Article: Electronic (PDF File; 680.057KB)).

Ricardo K. S. Mak

Professor, Department of History, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong (S.A.R.), Hong Kong