I'm not the Genre Police

It’s not so much that Lightwing23 and I have a bad relationship so much as we have a great love-hate relationship that manifests itself, in practical terms, as mutual annoyance. If you have not read his overview of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance series, I can give you an idea of how he appraises it by telling you that I gave him the final book as a Christmas gift. He gave me a copy of David Gaider’s latest opus, Dragon Age: Asunder.

Lightwing23 was also present for a number of pivotal events in my life, like my discovery of Asian cinema, kung fu and wuxia movies particularly. One of the things he enjoys is making me rage by telling stories about people who spout off things that are completely wrong about subjects that interest me, and he knows that few things interest me more than my favorite genre films.

So when he e-mailed me a link to an IGN article titled, “AsianCinema's 20 Greatest Fight Scenes,” I expected to rage. He expected me to rage on my blog for his amusement.

Of the list, I have a few things to say. I find the listing a bit odd. Lacking entirely in Japanese cinema – the author excluded the region for the “purposes of focusing more on martial arts battles,” which is about as perplexing as it gets – the list is hardly a good representative of Asian cinema as a whole. It was nice to see a couple of Korean films make the list, although I would not have chosen the two that made it. I was even happy to see Invincible Armor, which has an expertly choreographed and performed finale. That almost made up for the lack of attention to the films of Lau Kar-Leung, Ching Siu-Tung, Chang Cheh, Kenji Misumi, and a great number of others I could rattle off were I up to it.

But I’m not up to it. I cannot really even get worked up about the assumption that all of the best fight sequences in Asian cinema would be “martial arts battles,” or that fairly recent films comprise the majority of the list. I cannot even be bothered to go off on a writer proclaiming with certainty that the finale to Drunken Master 2 is “the very best depiction of Zui Quan (a.k.a. Drunken Boxing) ever caught on film.”

I can’t get myself in a tizzy over this because it really is not that bad of a list. Granted, it is not a particularly good list; I can think of a number of people who could compile better, more comprehensive lists, myself included. But I was not asked to write it, and the audience for whom this article was written would likely have no truck with many of the films I would pick. It is easy for somebody who subscribes to a historical view to want to discuss the influential aspects of the finale to Zatoichi Monogatari, or the tea-house scene in King Hu’s Come Drink with Me. For the student of martial arts, there is probably a desire to highlight the very carefully constructed depictions of Hung Gar in Lau Kar-Leung’s Martial Club. For the fan of spectacle, it would be hard to top the finale to Ong-Bak 2, or the chaos of John Woo’s Hard Boiled.

But for the average reader of IGN, whose interest in Hong Kong cinema likely extends no further than what is readily available on DVD, and whose knowledge of Asian cinema likely does not extend beyond martial arts movies, this is probably a series of excellent recommendations. Not everyone is likely to become a collector, let alone a historian, critic, or aficionado.

I’m not the genre police. None of us are, really. And while there is a presumptuous edge to this list that I do not appreciate, I can actually get behind the author’s enthusiasm for lesser seen films, like the Indonesian film Merantau. You still cannot spell ignorance without IGN, but for even mentioning a few underappreciated films, I have to give the writer props.

Oh, and, for the record, I actually got all of my rage out the way in the e-mail I sent to Lightwing23 yesterday.

1 comment:

  1. For the record, Pigsy wrapped the Inheritance book in toilet paper and duct tape, which, like the turd inside, seems an oddly fitting visual representation of our love-hate relationship.