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A ‘narrow world, strewn with prohibitions’: Chang Cheh’s The Assassin and the 1967 Hong Kong riots

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Chang Cheh is one of the most influential directors in Hong Kong martial arts cinema, and his film Da cike/The Assassin is a significant work produced at a key moment both in Chang’s early career and in the development of the increasingly violent 1960s swordplay (wuxia) genre that led ultimately to the appearance of the kungfu film in the 1970s. The Assassin was made during the Leftist Riots of 1967, a ‘watershed’ in Hong Kong’s modern history. In order to understand the changing fantasies of violence in Chang’s wuxia cinema during this period, this article makes a close reading of The Assassin in relation to the 1967 riots and through Frantz Fanon’s account of the effects of violence on the colonial subject. It argues for a close relationship between Chang’s cinematic violence and the real-world political violence which was erupting at the moment of its production and first reception.
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Keywords: Chang Cheh; Leftist Riots; colonialism; martial arts; violence; wuxia

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Middlesex University

Publication date: April 1, 2015

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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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