Encyclopedia of Chinese Film

By Yingjin Zhang; Zhiwei Xiao et al. | Go to book overview

Chinese film in the West
Yingjin Zhang

Since the mid-1980s, Chinese film has made a strong impact in the West (i.e., Europe, North America and Australia). Chinese films from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan have won film awards at international film festivals such as Berlin, Cannes, Locarno, Montreal, Nantes, Persaro, Rotterdam, Tokyo, Toronto, Turin, and Venice. Mainland and Taiwan art films, Hong Kong gangster, martial arts and comedy films were regularly screened in art-theatre houses in the West. Some were successfully marketed by the commercial theatre chains and earned huge profits, such as Farewell My Concubine (dir.Chen Kaige, 1993) and Eat Drink Man Woman (dir. Ang Lee, 1994).

There is a long tradition of film-cultural exchange between China and the West. The Hollywood presence in Shanghai was a significant factor in the Chinese film market during the 1920s–40s. Although Hollywood has never dominated Hong Kong the way it did in old Shanghai, it began to hit the Taiwan market once the government lifted its import quota for foreign film there. Newly released Hollywood films can be seen in Taiwan and Hong Kong with Chinese subtitles. In the mid-1990s, the mainland government began to import 'ten major foreign films' each year, most of them Hollywood titles, such as The Fugitive (dir. Andrew Davis, 1993), Forrest Gump (dir. Robert Zemeckis, 1994), Die Hard with a Vengeance (dir. John McTiernan, 1995) and Broken Arrow (dir. John Woo, 1996). These dubbed foreign films (in Chinese soundtrack) enjoy a popularity rarely obtained by the majority of domestic features. Nevertheless, the fact that the director of Broken Arrow is originally from Hong Kong points to an East-West film exchange from the opposite direction.

As evident in the three historical accounts of Chinese film in the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan in the preceding pages, many early Chinese filmmakers had the Western world in mind when they started business. Zhuangzi Tests His Wife (dir.Li Beihai, 1913), the first Hong Kong short feature, is reputedly also the first Chinese film ever to be exported to the West. Other silent titles, such as Cheng the Fruit Seller (dir.Zhang Shichuan, 1922) and Song of China (dir.Fei Mu, Luo Mingyou, 1935), carried both Chinese and English subtitles, presumably for export purposes (a videotape version of the latter is now available at Facets Multimedia, Inc. in Chicago, the USA). Romance of the Western Chamber (dir.Hou Yao, 1927), the film adaptation of a classic Chinese drama, was given a promotional English title, Way Down West, to invoke the famous Way Down East (dir. D.W. Griffith, 1920) in Shanghai audiences familiar with Western films. Translated in French as La Rose de Pu-Chui, Romance of the Western Chamber was screened in Paris from 20 April to 3 June 1928—concurrently with Ben-Hur (dir. Fred Niblo, 1926) and Joyless Streets (dir. G.W. Pabst, 1922), the latter a German film.

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Encyclopedia of Chinese Film
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Plates ix
  • Notes on Contributors xi
  • Note to the Reader xiii
  • Acknowledgements xv
  • Abbreviations xvi
  • Classified Contents xvii
  • Part I - Historical Essays 1
  • Chinese Cinema 3
  • Hong Kong Cinema 31
  • Taiwan Cinema 47
  • Further Reading 60
  • Further Reading 62
  • Transnational Cinema: Mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan 63
  • Chinese Film in the West 66
  • Further Reading 69
  • Foreign Films in China 70
  • Part II - Main Entries 73
  • A - Action Film 75
  • Further Reading 85
  • B - Back to Back, Face to Face 89
  • Further Reading 92
  • C - Cageman 105
  • D - Dan Duyu 136
  • E - Early Spring in February 151
  • F - Family 158
  • G - Game of Death 173
  • H - He Jianjun 183
  • I - Iceman Cometh 198
  • J - Jade Love 203
  • Further Reading 204
  • K - Killer, The 206
  • L - Lai, Stan 210
  • Further Reading 213
  • M - Ma-Xu Weibang 235
  • Further Reading 246
  • N - Narrow Street 248
  • O - Old Well 255
  • P - Pai Ching-Jui 262
  • Q - Qin Yi 274
  • R - Rainclouds Over Wushan 276
  • S - Sacrificed Youth 295
  • T - Taipei Story 329
  • U - Under the Bridge 346
  • V - Visitor on Ice Mountain 349
  • W - Wan Jen 351
  • X - Xia Gang 374
  • Y - Yam, Simon 379
  • Z - Zhang Ga, a Boy Soldier 387
  • Bibliography 397
  • Select Internet Web Sites on Chinese Cinema 412
  • Glossary of Chinese Characters 413
  • Index of Titles 450
  • Index of Names 465
  • Index of Studios 473
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