HK and Cult Film News's Fan Box

Sunday, March 2, 2008

An unpublished interview with Linn Haynes about Chinese Nationalism in Kung Fu Movies

From: Wed, 07 Mar 2007


1.Jimmy Wang Yu

a. What was JWYs opinion on the Japanese?

I can't speak for Wang Yu, but in general I think the idea he hates Japanese is something that comes from the films and the climate they were made in rather than the real world.

b. He seemed to love killing them in the movies and loved even more going to conventions in Japan and doing interviews with his “mortal enemies”. How is JWY so popular in Japan.

He did quite a bit of publicity for kung fu films in the region, even made a couple of films there and he is well remembered. Virgin released most of his old films on video there in the 80s and 90s. As for why he "loved killing them," ACTING!

c. What was JWY’s relationship with Kurata?

My understanding is that Kurata and he were friends over the years from working in HK together.

d. Do you think JWY really cared about Chinese nationalism in any real sense? Seaman No 7 Was an Example you mentioned.

Correction, Seaman No.7 was an example of Wang Yu's character evolving. He was a Chinese that is beat up by Japanese and then trains under a Japanese Karate master.

e. Do you think he was heavily influenced technically by Japanese cinema?

I certainly think that kung fu films in general were. As for JWY, he did remake Seven Samurai more or less with the film Beach of the War Gods. :)

And I would say, a lot of his films featuring large groups of fighters certainly had a Japanese look to the action scenes. The Brave and the Evil, his first directing gig after the Shaw Brothers, would be an example.


a. When did Kurata start working in Hong Kong?

1971's King of Boxers or King Boxer

b. How did Kurata feel about the roles he often had to take?

According to Kurata, he wasn't a big fan of some of the roles he took because of the way they painted the Japanese, but he also needed a job.

c. It’s been said the Kurata’s roles as Japanese villains brought him great acclaim in Japan how was this so?

Because he was seen less of a Japanese actor playing crappy bad guy roles, and more as a Japanese doing well in the greatest action market in the world. He was a home town boy doing good more or less.

d. Heroes of the East was said to have been viewed as very important by

Kurata even to the point that he turned done better work in Japan. Is this true?

Correct. He was supposed to do a TV series or movie at the time and was asked by Lau Kar Leung to come back to HK to film the movie. The role was so good, he pretty much dropped everything to do it.

e. Who were Kurata’s main friends during his first stint in Hong Kong?

Bruce Lee, Bruce Liang, and Chen Kuan Tai.

f. Why do you think Kurata was invited to the HKFA’s action chorography dinner as an honored guest? He was the only non-Chinese?

Because he was truly considered one of them by that point. It must be remembered that Kurata put up with a lot of "ribbing," both physical and mental, for being Japanese and in these films from the people on set.

But he showed that he could do the work and over time gained the respect of most of the people he worked with.

g. Are there any other Japanese actors who were as respected as Kurata working in HK?

Hmm...good question. I think they're TONS of Japanese actors respected in HK, but you'll note very few ever made their way there. Sonny Chiba

comes to mind. Many guess this is because they (Japanese actors) couldn't take the pressure, but it was more likely they were making too much money at home.


a. Was the standing order by Run Run to try and emulate Japanese cinema

technically for Shaw Brothers films?

Yes. Shaw went to the point of running Japanese films in the Shaw Studios' theater for his directors to see.

b. Is it true that Run Run would often screen Japanese cinema for his directors?

See above. :)

c. What directors do you think adopted the most Japanese techniques in their films?

Chang Cheh and Ching Gong (Cheng Kang) are perhaps the most Japanese outside of the Japanese directors that worked for the Shaws.

d. What was Cheng Cheh and LKL opinions on the Japanese. LKL rarely had Japanese enemies when compared to CC.

I think from LKL's Heroes of the East, it was clear he respected them at least. As for Cheng, he many times talked about how much he looked up to Japanese directors, particularly Kurosawa.

e. Is it true the Shaws employed numerous Japanese technicians on their films but using Chinese names?

Yes. Directors and craftsmen.

f. How big were the Shaws in Japan?

My understanding is that they were more known for their distribution than their films there. Though many of their films played there, they handled the distribution in HK of many Japanese films.

4. General and Miscellanies

a. What was the first film (to the best of your knowledge to use Chinese Anti-Japanese nationalism as a main plot point?

It was a Wong Fei Hung film, I believe Huang Fei Hong's Combat With The Five Wolves. This featured sequences cited by the HK Film Archives as being an influence on Fist of Fury.

b. Where there any directors who really did have it in for Japan and wanted to use their films as platform for doing this?

Not sure.

c. What effect did these types of plotlines have on foreign Chinese and

Westerners when they saw these films (as they plot device came up in a large number of films)

d. Do you think the portrayal of Japanese in Hong Kong action cinema has ever changed? If so what time period?

In the 80s is when it really changed. They're some instances beforehand, but I think it was consistently better in the mid to late 80s with films like Heroes of the East, Ninja in the Dragon's Den, etc.

e. Would you say Johnnie To’s Throwdown shows how far HK cinema has come in its view of Japanese ideas?

Yes, and also continues to show how much it's influenced it. I mean, swordplay cinema from the Shaws during the 1960s IS their answer to samurai cinema. Throwdown is To's equivalent to the early work of Kurosawa, specifically Sugata Sanshiro AKA Judo Saga.


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