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Martial Arts Cinema and Hong Kong ModernityAesthetics, Representation, Circulation$
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Man-Fung Yip

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9789888390717

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888390717.001.0001

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In the Realm of the Senses

In the Realm of the Senses

(p.56) 2 In the Realm of the Senses
Martial Arts Cinema and Hong Kong Modernity

Man-Fung Yip

Hong Kong University Press

This chapter investigates how, in the context of Hong Kong’s rapidly growing urban-industrial modernity of the 1960s and 1970s, the proliferation of sense stimuli and sense activities had radically altered the sensory-affective experience of the real. This, in turn, is shown to have a paradigmatic impact on the martial arts film, which was rapidly embracing a new, unprecedented level of sensationalism—or “sensory realism,” that is, a mode of realism grounded not so much in visual resemblance between image and world as in the correlations between a film’s sensory and visceral stimulations and the viewer’s real-life sense experiences. It is from this perspective that martial arts films of the period can be seen as bringing a “modern” or “modernist” style to Hong Kong cinema—a style predicated on speed, impact, and new forms of cinematic materiality and tactility.

Keywords:   sensationalism, sensory realism, affect, speed

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