Chinese Martial Arts Film and the Philosophy of Action is Stephen Teo’s follow-up to his earlier Chinese Martial Arts Cinema: The Wuxia Tradition published in 2009. His latest book is a study of six Chinese martial arts films including Zhang Yimou’s Shadow (2018), Wu Jing’s Wolf Warrior II (2017), Xu Haofeng’s The Final Master (2015), Hou Hsiao-hsien’s The Assassin (2015), Wong Kar-wai’s The Grandmaster (2013), and Tsui Hark’s Seven Swords (2005). These six films are taken as the most outstanding examples of style and discourse in the development of Chinese martial arts genre from the new millennium onwards. They provide not just the kind of thrilling action that audiences are used to in the genre but also meditations on action which relate to society, the state, and larger existential questions.
To address these larger questions, the book considers the films as a collective repertory of Chinese philosophical ideas derived from, or based on, Confucianism, Daoism, Buddhism, and Mohism as well as other schools of thought. It argues that Chinese philosophy provides a key to understanding the narratives of the selected films and therefore boosts our understanding of the whole genre centering on the figure of the xia—the heroic, romantic, and oftentimes enigmatic protagonist. The book outlines the philosophical principles and themes undergirding the actions of xia and their narratives. Overall, Teo argues that the genre, apart from being an action-oriented entertainment medium, is inherently moral and ethical.
For this online event, Teo will talk about Chinese Martial Arts Film and the Philosophy of Action. It will take place through Zoom on Friday June 25 at 11:00 – 12:30 CST. Register at eventbrite.