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The Good, the Bad, and the Culturally Inauthentic: The Strange Case of the “Asian Western

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When The Tears of the Black Tiger (Fah talai jone 2000, dir. Wisit Sasanatieng) was reviewed in Sight and Sound, reviewer Edward Buscombe expressed surprise at the existence of a Thai Western and concluded that the film was “ultimately, about nothing at all.” Such debates had already been well rehearsed around Italian Westerns, the paradigmatic “inauthentic” adaptation of an “authentic” genre. Asian cinema’s connection to the Western can be traced back to Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai, which was reworked across diverse genres, including the Western. Two further “Asian Westerns” have been distributed internationally more recently, Sukiyaki Western Django (Sukiyaki Uesutan Jango 2007, dir. Miike Takashi) and The Good, the Bad, the Weird (Joheun nom nabbeun nom isanghan nom 2008, dir. Kim Ji-woon). While individual films have unmistakeable local resonances “lost” Thai cinema, South Korea’s Manchurian action films of the 1960s, the interplay between Japanese chanbara and the Western -- the common transcultural referent is not the American Western, but the Italian one. This paper examines the relationship between the “Asian” and Italian Western, and considers how the latter might inform the transnational ambitions of the former.
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Keywords: Italian cinema; Manchurian action films; Sukiyaki Western Django; Tears of the Black Tiger; The Good; the Bad; the Weird; western

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Brunel University

Publication date: 01 March 2011

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  • Asian Cinema is a seminal journal, which has been published since 1995 by the Asian Cinema Studies Society under the stewardship of Professor John Lent. From 2012 Asian Cinema will be published by Intellect as part of our Film Studies journal portfolio. The journal currently publishes a variety of scholarly material - including research articles, interviews, book and film reviews and bibliographies - on all forms and aspects of Asian cinema. The journal's broad aim is to advance understanding and knowledge of the rich traditions of the various Asian cinemas, thereby making an invaluable contribution to the field of Film Studies in general.
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