Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Mark of Intelligence

Been watching Chinese wuxia serials obsessively for the past few days - especially since I found a nifty site that screens them on a daily basis ( not to mention the stack of DVD boxsets I recently purchased ). Hell, it's on all the time, you only need to pick the episode! God bless the internet.

However since my rudimentary knowledge of Mandarin is superficial at best, I have to rely on substandard subtitles to get through the show - especially when the characters start waxing poetic about the moon and the stars.

Hero : My one and only love in my heart, even the milky moonlight under a cloudless midnight sky pales before the radiant glow of your divine beauty.
Heroine : But that hardly compares to the famed skill of your peerless Rain and Thunder swordplay. Just like endless raindrops flying in a summer storm.
Hero : My fragile blossom, I see you underestimate your Five-fingered Devil's Claw of Excruciating Death.
Paul : WTF.

Seriously. Does anyone actually talk like that? Could blame the literal Babel translators of course but I guess we do have to accept that folks from a previous century are far more sweetly sentimental than the practical straight-talkers nowadays who prefer to get down to the nitty gritty. Unfortunately these days it'd probably go something like this...

Hero : Damn foxy, you look bangin' tonight! A burning beacon of raw sexuality.
Heroine : Yo mac daddy, love your sword. Come lemme play wid it.

Far from romantic.

Why have I suddenly been converted into a rabid Chinese serial fan? Apart from the vaunted heroism, boundless patriotism and the death-defying aerial stunts ( not to mention the hilarious though picturesque names given to the various stances and grips ), I find myself liking the varied characters themselves, even with their complex interpersonal relationships. Sure, it's easy enough to extol the manifold virtues of the main protagonists such as the heroic Xiao Feng and Guo Jing - but for me, I've always enjoyed the wily characters. Maybe because I identify more with them but I like characters such as the princely Duan Yu and the cunning Huang Rong who work by wit and guile, and not by sheer strength of muscle or martial art.

Or the prodigious internal energy as they call it :)

Jimmy Lin
Come try my Six Swords Nerve Disabling Stance!

Though most might disagree, I find it far more interesting to watch a hero outwit his opponent by artful cunning rather than disabling the bastard ( who frequently gives that iconic wicked laugh ) with a fulsome show of martial arts prowess resulting in a gory bloodbath. With their astonishing abilities, it would be easy enough to break bone and sinew but how much more difficult to make a villain kowtow to you as a disciple? Or to drive them rabidly insane studying a clandestine martial arts skill that's nigh impossible?

Me, I doubt I'd have made a great wuxia fighter. Far from a paragon of moral rectitude. Hate sweat, practice and heavy weaponry. Though I probably would have picked up Graceful Steps upon the Waves 凌波微步 if only to avoid certain decapitation. But I gotta say I certainly wouldn't have minded playing with poisons and antidotes ( paired with darts and shurikens no doubt ).

Yeah you can call me East Venom. :P


jay said...

I too agree that cunning is way more interesting than using our fists to win but most guys just seem to get off on seeing blood and we're not exactly your average guys now are we?

charming.calvin said...

Wonder how much do you understand about the deep emotions and thoughts in a wuxia series. They're always complex and complicated. But at least we have something to talk about now. Hehe. ;-p

Jonzz said...

I think in those kung fu shows their greatest weapons must be their tongues... talk their opponents to death.

Ban said...

Hrm... if I were in a Wuxia setting I'd be noogie-ing the hapless wuxia blokes and giving them a haircut. :P

William said...

OMG, the reemergence of "Five-fingered Devil's Claw of Excruciating Death"?!

Haha. I remembered a "Ghost Shadow God-Devil's Claw". Or perhaps the more recent "Pai Mei's Five Point Palm Heart Exploding Technique".

Me love wuxia.

Queer Ranter said...

Hhahah I though I read:

Hero : My fragile BOSOM, I see you underestimate your Five-fingered Devil's

Instead of

Hero : My fragile BLOSSOM, I see you underestimate your Five-fingered Devil's


Sue said...

Use all of your "graceful steps on the waves" to complete the pieces of eight meme that I just tagged you for today! hahaha

Perky said...

Lol! Oh man, i'm so your opposite. I'd rather see them use their fists than talk their opponents to death. That kind of talk just makes me cringe hahah!

savante said...

True enough about that, jay. Blood and gore can be fun enough - though gross - but hey, it's far more challenging to talk a villain into hurting themselves.

Hey, I am complex and complicated, calvin. :P

Yeah, jonzz :P How else would they continue lengthening the series?

What's wrong with their hair? It's cold, ban. And they have no time to bother about haircuts.

Ooh. I must learn this ghost shadow God Devil Claw. Would be good at work, william.

Blossom! It's blossom, queer rant :P

A meme! Will go take a look, sue.

Not too long to talk lah, perky :)