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From affective space to performative depth: Spatial aesthetics in 3-D wuxia films Flying Swords of Dragon Gate (2010) and Sword Master (2016)

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Chinese cinema has seen a rise in 3-D productions, most of which are wuxia films, between 2010 and 2018. To explore new spatial aesthetics in 3-D wuxia films, this article compares two 3-D wuxia remakes with their 2-D originals: Flying Swords of Dragon Gate (2011) with New Dragon Gate Inn (1992), and Sword Master (2016) with Death Duel (1977). It asks the following questions: how do 3-D spatial aesthetics differ from the spatial configuration of 2-D wuxia films? What does the stereoscopic space add to (or take away from) traditional wuxia films? How is the relationship between the knights-errant and jianghu represented in the 3-D space? This comparative study argues that the 3-D films largely rely on exploiting the positive parallax to create a more ‘voluminous’ and performative, but less affective, jianghu world, compared to their 2-D originals. It raises questions about how to incorporate depth-oriented aesthetics with narrative engagement in wuxia films.
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Keywords: 3-D film; Chinese cinema; Tsui Hark; adaptation; martial arts; spatial aesthetics; wuxia film

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Illinois State University

Publication date: April 1, 2019

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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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