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Fighting without Fighting

Kung Fu Cinema’s Journey to the West

From classic Bruce Lee films to the comedies of Jackie Chan, a vibrant look at the enduring fascination with the kung fu cinema of Hong Kong.
In the spring and summer of 1973, a wave of martial arts movies from Hong Kong—epitomized by Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon—smashed box-office records for foreign-language films in America and ignited a “kung fu craze” that swept the world. Fighting without Fighting explores this dramatic phenomenon, and it argues that, more than just a cinematic fad, the West’s sudden fascination with—and moral panic about—the Asian fighting arts left lasting legacies still present today.
The book traces the background of the craze in the longer development of Hong Kong’s martial arts cinema. It discusses the key films in detail, as well as their popular reception and the debates they ignited, where kung fu challenged Western identities and raised anxieties about violence, both on and off-screen. And it examines the proliferation of ideas and images from these films in fields as diverse as popular music, superhero franchises, children’s cartoons, and contemporary art. Illuminating and accessible, Fighting without Fighting draws a vivid bridge between East and West.

336 pages | 40 halftones | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2

Film Studies

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