Soul of Wuxia

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I have already refered some information and features of Wuxia in previous months; WuxiaHistoryPlotCodes… etc. In short, Wuxia literally is mean “heroic warrior”, and it is a genre that tell stories and adventures of heros (heroic martial artist and warriors) with both didactic and etic frames. The origin of these stories are back to 200-300 B.C, and it has been evolved in time. But because of main source of this genre is historical, it is usually presented in “historical background”, and with martial arts, so old-school weapons.

For this reasons, Wuxia genre may be seemed quite confusing that most of people mix up this genre with both “physical (somatic)” martial arts and/or historical (or ancient time) movies. That’s because majority of wuxia movies contains somatic martial arts and historical elements, and it seems as if a wuxia movie can not be without them. But is it really like this ? … Is it simply Wuxia movie = Historical martial art movie ? … or one had been derived from another ? Or maybe they are completly different genre with same origin ! After I have watched hundrends wuxia and other kind of martial art movies, I think the last option is more likely for me. And I want to touch on 3 main features that give the real soul (ambience) of Wuxia, in my opinion. And try to show how Wuxia genre can be different from other genres.

  • The story and the sub-text (the didactical and ethical messages,…etc. in sub-text. also smart connections and twists in epic story flow….); Stories are certainly main skeleton of Wuxia genre, and they make Wuxia more special than other kind of martial arts movie genres. They may contain love, romance, ambition, revenge … and other similar stuff as side elements, but they must always contain some didactic and etic elements in all conscience. Because the reason of born of these stories initially was a consolation against all cruel and unfair things in the real world, and people create them to able to live in an ideal, at least in their mind. In fact, because the stories is  based on a war for reaching to ideal with defeating the evils, so didactical and ethical messages are unavoidable. That’s why the Stories and some sub-textes of this genre had been found dangerous time to time by the authorities, and they were banned just because of their rebellious and different ideals. Furthermore their plot must be also relatively smart and sophisticated than other plain martial art movies; its elements and twist must be connected elegantly and it must be epic, too.
  • Characters and appropriate cast; Because Wuxia is about Heros’ stories, the characters in stories also must be in some ideal criterions, with paralel in story. The protagonists are always in heroic, principled and righteous character (or they may evolve gradually bad to good), and must always voluntarily and determinedly fight for justice and he must be against the opposite evil elements (or people) which are unheroic and unrighteous, of course. Furhermore, the protagonist’s internal conflicts must be reflected as well as possible in flow of story. Also same as their mental character, their physical appearance must be also in ideal and esthetic image that must impress, influence and disturb the audiance quite well. But this doesn’t means that the cast must be always handsome men and beatiful women. But both physical (dressing, mimics and looking) and spiritual stances (mood, temper, humor, sentiments … etc) of the characters (so actor/actress) must be appropriate with artistic and idealistic features.
  • Artistic-aesthetics presentation; (both for everywhere and everything); Stories, Characters, backgrounds, All costumes, decor, landscaping and other details …etc must be also presented and showed in appropriate aesthetics and artistic concept. All elements in the movie must be pleasing to the eyes in some artistic effects and concepts. It means, as similar as idealisation of stories and characters, the other details and background elements must be also showed in idealisation with very artistic-aesthetics frame. These artistic-aesthetics reflections are also another main things that makes Wuxia Movie different than other ordinary martial art movies. Also note that, the artistic-aesthetics stuff and taste can be too relative person to person, but it must try to catch some universal taste.

In my opinion, good wuxia movies include these 3 features properly, and mediocre ones only include one or two of them. If you pay attention, I didn’t mention neither “historic background” nor “martial arts”. Because even they may mostly contain historical or “physical” martial art elements, Wuxia stories (and movies) are essentially idealistic-heroic stories; and these stories can be set any time, and any approciate martial art types in depend of age. Because, after all, martial arts and weapons can be changed and evolved depend on its age. (Such as supernatural powers in Wuxia genre were joined long after its born; I think this is quite good evolution example in this genre). If it is in antic age, then it contains fist, kick and old-school weapons (sword, ax, spear …etc). If it is in current days, then some new-ages weapons (firearms, guns, rifles ..stc) can be used with old-school fight, maybe. Also martial arts don’t have to be thought always physically; and to reduce them into only fist and kick show is wrong, I think. There can be, such as, mental martial arts besides the others. Because Kung fu concept, which is mostly used in wuxia genre,is  containg to any study, learning, or practice that requires patience, energy, and time to complete. So Kung fu may not be always used in fighting, it may be used also other brances. (I may expand this idea later days).

In summary; The real soul of Wuxia is its story, characters and artistic-aesthetics frames. I mean wuxia genre more focuses these elements, While Plain Martial arts movies more focus the demostration of martial arts. I think, Wuxia movies don’t have to be always historical and physical martial aristic (fists, kicks and/or some superpowers), because these are just side-elements, same as love, romance, and revenge … etc. That’s why I separete Wuxia movies and (plain and historical) martial art movie. In following days, I will also touch on modern age wuxia issue, and these 3 features more detaily. ^_^

One thought on “Soul of Wuxia

  1. I never imagine this subject can be as deep as like this. I can watch these movies differently , very good point of view.

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