Wednesday, February 6, 2008

The Dark Heroine Muk Lan-fa (Hong Kong, 1966)

In the mid sixties, Hong Kong's Cantonese language film industry, faced with the emerging dominance of the considerably more well-funded and increasingly action-oriented Mandarin language Shaw Brothers Studio - as well as changing audience tastes in a rapidly modernizing society - found itself in need of retooling its output. Melodramas, romances and period martial arts films featuring heroic female swordsmen had been staples of the industry, but it now appeared that films reflecting the cosmopolitan tastes and hyperbolic pace of a more technologically driven age were in order. Of course, nothing celebrated speed, style and technology like the James Bond films, so it only made sense for Cantonese filmmakers to adapt the conventions of those films to their audience and capabilities. Furthermore, since Cantonese cinema was at the time largely driven by female stars - and appealed to a largely female audience - it also made sense that these culturally specific reimaginings of the Bond film should feature young women as their protagonists. The resulting flood of films, made mostly between 1965 and 1968, has been retroactively dubbed the "Jane Bond" films by critic Sam Ho...

Read the full review at The Lucha Diaries

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