The Irresistible Rise of Asian Cinema 2

  • Hai Leong Toh


THE GREAT LEAP FORWARD THE subject of homosexuality is taboo in Chinese films. Ever since Chinese cinema gained world prominence in the 1930s with Mainland Chinese social protest works like Street Angel and Crossroads (both made in 1937 by the socialist Mingxing Film Company) and through the highly popular wen-yi (heterosexual romance) Taiwanese films of the 1960s and 1970s, and the action and comedy mainstays of Hong Kong in the 1970s, no major Chinese film has dared to venture into this taboo theme. It was only in the realm of martial arts film genre (the wu hsia pien) that a renegade major director like Chu Yuan could tackle this "unspeakable" subject in his 1972 successful Ai Nu, the Chinese Courtesan and its more daring 1984 remake Lust for Love of a Chinese Courtesan. The former hints at a lesbian relationship between a brothel madame Chung and Ai-nu, her innocent...