Asian Expressions: Gender Bending in Hong Kong Cinema
In this programme we will show a classic from the Hong Kong cinema,
a spectacular martial arts film that has one of the most stunning
fighting choreography of the martial arts genre. More important, it
exhibits also a provocative gender bending that became common in Hong
Kong blockbuster films in the 90's. Martial arts fighter par excellence
Jet Li takes on Brigitte Lin as the sex-changed villain.
film is set in the mystic 19th century of China. A villain who plans
to overthrow the empire has acquired the magical scrolls that will
give him access to supernatural power. To possess this supernatural
power, the villain had to give up his manhood. He gradually transformed
into a feminized person. Against all odds, the villain feels at
ease with this newly acquired gender identity as woman and even
falls in love with our hero.
Brigitte Lin, originally from Taiwan, almost single-handedly played
a few dozen cross-dressing roles in the Hong Kong cinema. In the
documentary Yang & Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema, director Stanley
Kwan discusses with film director and producer Tsui Hark and actor
Leslie Cheung (Farewell to my Concubine) on cross-dressing performances
in this cinema.