Contemporary Hong Kong War Films: Inclusive Cross-Cultural Exchanges Facilitated by Cultural Globalization

By Kay Li.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

This paper explores inclusive cross-cultural exchanges facilitated by cultural globalization, through looking at a number of contemporary Hong Kong war films. While Hong Kong films have been on the decline in recent years, there are a number of war films made with a high budget and stellar cast. These war films are less historical than mythical, less realistic than wildly imaginative. Above all, these films are made possible by inclusive cross-cultural exchanges facilitated by globalization. The origins of these war films straddle across cultures; the making of these films are cross-cultural; and the conclusion of these films often affirms cultural inclusivity with the protagonists empowered by cross-cultural exchanges.

For many years, costume drama featuring large-scale warfare had not been popular in Hong Kong films, as this requires an expensive budget, a large number of actors, and huge sets. However, these obstacles were removed in recent years with the co-productions with Mainland China, which supplied the financial resources, the carefree actors and costumes, computer animation, and immense shooting space. These external factors give rise to favorable climate for the costume war films. In addition, Chinese film personnel, ranging from directors, cast and crew, arrived at Hollywood, which generated new forms of costume war films.

The contemporary war films show new forms of cross-cultural exchanges at work. The outlook of the contemporary war films is unmistakably Chinese, being Chinese costume drama with an ancient Chinese background. However, while these films feature historical Chinese settings and characters, the storyline and characterization usually come from adaptations of Lord of the Ring and the Japanese manga and computer gameboard. In other cases, the films may feature Asian actors, or are Western productions featuring Chinese and Western actors and characters, a medley of Chinese kung fu tales mixed with Chinese fables and fairy tales, in which the young Western protagonist is empowered by the Chinese experience in his dream. Above all, despite the on-screen violence adopted from earlier Chinese war films featuring kung fu fighting and amazing choreography, the protagonists are advocates of peace and cross-culturalism.

Keywords: Cross-Cultural Exchanges, Cultural Globalization, Films, Hong Kong, Chinese, War Films

International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 7, Issue 6, pp.23-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.260MB).

Dr. Kay Li

English Program, School of Arts and Letters, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada


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