This chapter considers how the (male) action bodies in martial arts cinema of the late 1960s and 1970s, posed between mastery and vulnerability, served as a site/sight through which the aspirations and anxieties of Hong Kong people living in the flux of a rapidly modernizing society were articulated and made visible. Specifically, it identifies three types of action body—the narcissistic body, the sacrificial body, and the ascetic body—and discusses how each crystallized out of the changing social and ideological dynamics of Hong Kong during the period. As socially symbolic signs, these diverse but interrelated representations of the body are extremely rich in meanings, inscribing within themselves not only fantasies of nationalist pride and liberated labor but also the historical experience of violence, in the form of both colonization and unbridled growth, that lay beneath the transformation of Hong Kong into a modern industrial society.
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