Issues of Wuxia

Chinese painting of mountain village.

* Türkçesi için …

In recent months, I superficially wrote about general plots of Wuxia stories using some wiki information. Now I want to mention about topics and issues of Wuxia stories.

Again I want to remind; Wuxia stories tell about stories of Heros (not martial arts); Heros can be martial artist warriors, soldiers, swordsman …etc. Contrary to popular belief, people, who are heros, are main focus in this genre, not martial arts, or old-school weapons. If it is focused on a particular style of martial art, weapon, and how they evolve, rather than character deepness and plot, then it must be called “martial art” genre, not Wuxia. For example, let’s take the revenge issue. As might be known, the revenge issue is offenly used in both Wuxia and Martial art genres, but the styles of handling of this issue quite different. In martial arts films, before taking revenge, hero spends quite ” long time” in rigorous training and fighting style development. This takes almost more than half of the film, and any fine details about how our hero is trained and progressed in martial arts, is showed and demostrated step by step. But the real plot (or topic or issue), revenge thing, is fudged a bit in the begining and the end of the film, with again plenty of figting scenes, of cource. In this case, the movie actually become a promotion (encouragement) of martial arts in a mixture of documentary + course + entertainment; Thus the main issue in here is not the revenge and plot actually, it is martial arts. So this movie should be counted as in martial art genre, of cource. However, in the Wuxia stories and movies, revenge is considered the purely and totally human-oriented. I mean, psychological preparation of revenge (or duel ..etc), hero’s mood in the process of getting revenge, motivations step by step and human him or herself become main issue actually, and Martial arts are just for supporting and ornament parts. So in wuxia movie, the oppisite formula is valid; The main issue is the Human, and topic is human’s issues. There is no any “distinctly” promotion of martial arts, and this is not the issue and necessary already, because its plot is already heavy and medley enough. The martial arts in wuxia movies is only used to add more artistic anf aesthetic elements. And also as might be realised, Martial arts is presented much more differently and aestheticly in Wuxia movies than the other “Martial arts” movies. Obviously, this aesthetic obsession is another feature of Wuxia, and will be mention in another post.

Chinese landscape painting by Chen.

Here in this direction, while Wuxia stories tell the story of heros, some distinctive elements outshine as the issues of this genre. These element crystallize the Wuxia genre and make it an unique genre than others ……. Here these elements;

  • Romance; This is almost the sine qua non of Wuxia Genre, of course. And if there are people, so romanticism (emotions, feelings …etc) is inevitable. In the adventures, Our hero is intensely in some kind of sensuality and romanticism cloud; sometimes this is reflect as “love romance” with his lover (or candidate lover), or sometimes reflect as “philosophical romance” with his all surroundings. Generally, the hero tries to hide his extreme emotional susceptibility to avoid seeming as weak, but when time comes, he does not hesitate to show this. Sometimes it is an unreachable lover; because of some past events or some class differences, Valentines are forced to love one another far away. Their love become more likely to be Platonic love. Or sometimes other than love, the tough life our hero’s lived makes him deep, or a kind of philosopher; and he lives as in a kind of artistic-philosophical romance, in the mood of being a spontaneous and free. Either way, mist of romance is heavly emphasized.
  • Didactic and ethical messages; In Wuxia Stories, there are some sub-text, didactic and ethical messages, which are given by Hero’s extreme and exemplary behaviors. These types of messages are sometimes given obviously, but usually given subtledly with tiny details. The aim of these messages may essentially be to show, remind, make think, even provoke the readers (or audience) about what is justice, righteousness (right) and truth. Such as, because of this, many ancient wuxia pieces were considered provoking, dangerous and so banned by current time authorities. The reason to these stories were like this was a desire to get rid of the evils (these are degenerations and corruptions), and reach to such an idealism. Also, one of the ways to eliminate these corruptions is to make wake up and aware the audience ..etc. But there is a fine detail here; Wuxia stories never advocate some current certain wordly ideals. They advocate universal human ideal as using a hero role model. Unfortunately, there is some dilemma; these subtle messages can be only undestood by uncorrupt righteous people, and other degenerate ones may belittle and continues to underrate these stories, instead of taking lessons. So eventually, these messages can just virtually reach to very minority, who are not degenerat so much yet …. In fact, I might give some examples about these messages one by one later; but these are actually like some Rorschac test, each one only sees his reality. And It might be useless no matter how I explain, unless one can undestand by himself. Even so, I’ll soon give these messages…
  • Intrigues and Twists; If there is human factor, so intrigues and twists are inevitable, of course. Intrigues, deceptions, surprise, twist, and super-complicated plans are almost main parts of Wuxia Litrature. Sometimes over-complicated plans, which is prepared by an Evil character, are plotted against our hero, somehow. Thus to solve the case and save himself, the hero must also use his intellectual capacity as same as his fighting skills. Or sometimes, Hero’s best friend or lover may be his secret enemy, and treachery to him insidiously. Or maybe, hero has some top-secrets from his past, and then they start to hunt him with surprisingly and then with twist …etc. In short, no matter what, there are always some surprise and twist for both heros and audience. And actually, these Intrigues and twists are reflect the evil side’s ideals, which are polar oppsite to good (hero) sides. Thus audience can compare these good and evil, together.
  • Epic Aroma; As you might know, peoples in all around world had already told each other some stories about heros (warriors, kings, semi-gods …etc) for milleniums. These stories are called Legends, or Epic stories, which mainly narrate fictitious or exaggerated real events in the frame of some hero’s achievements (which related to give some lesson, so didactic…etc). In fact, these stories are especially exaggerated, mythical and splendid to attract attention of people that so they become more entertaining, while being so didactic, dramatic and even tragic at the same time. Thus a Wuxia story must be like Epic story, Legend; to being absorbing and splendid is another important issue in Wuxia litrature.

Chinese landscape painting by Chen.


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