Martial Arts Films

Although martial arts films have received comparatively little critical attention, they reflect widely shared American perceptions of a mysterious, and often stereotyped, Orient, and of Asian masculinity. Distinct from American action films in their focus on physical performance rather than characterization and narrative, martial arts films showcase near-mystical fighting skills that have been gradually separated from their original cultural context and associated with protagonists from different cultures. The martial arts hero's transition from Chinese revolutionary to American action star reflects evolving attitudes in the United States toward Asian manhood— and about masculinity in general.

Although American film and literature have traditionally constructed a feminized Asia that offers exotic delights to Western men, white Americans have been uneasy about Asian masculinity ever since their xenophobic reactions to ...

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