But, here where geeks reign supreme, I thought I wouldhighlight some fun movies and TV that have to do with China.
Jackie Chan’s First Strike is about . . . you know, I have to admit, that I don’treally watch Jackie Chan movies for the plot—I watch for the fight scenes. First Strike, which features Jackie as a coptrying to break up an international spy-ring, has a great one at the ChineseNew Year’s parade.
John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China came out in 1986and featured Kurt Russell as truck driver Jack Burton, who helps his friendWang Chi (Dennis Dun) rescue Wang's green-eyed girlfriend (Suzee Pai) frombandits in San Francisco's Chinatown. They go into the mysterious underworldbeneath Chinatown, where they face an ancient sorcerer named Lo Pan (JamesHong). I should note that although thisfilm is a cult classic, it was a commercial failure, grossing only $11.1million despite its estimated $25 million budget. The film was originally envisioned as aWestern set in the 1880s, but was changed to compete with The Golden Child withEddie Murphy.
What else is there to say other than, “When some wild-eyed,eight-foot-tall maniac grabs your neck, taps the back of your favorite head upagainst the barroom wall, and he looks you crooked in the eye and he asks youif ya paid your dues, you just stare that big sucker right back in the eye, andyou remember what ol' Jack Burton always says at a time like that: "Haveya paid your dues, Jack?" "Yessir, the check is in the mail.”
So it is not really China, but Xena traveled to the fictitious Eastern country of Chin in the Debt. In this two part episode, Xena is asked to come to the far kingdom ofChin to kill a person. While they're traveling, Xena tells Gabrielle a storyof her past which would explain what she is going to do.
This is a favorite of mine from my childhood; I vividlyrecall going over to my friend Jeff Miller’s house to watch it (I wonder whereJeff is now?). As an adult, I wanted tobuy it for my Chinese wife and it took forever to track down a copy. This Hong Kong animation features variousfigures of Chinese mythology as they battle over a town. Then, Bruce Lee shows up with a third eye inhis forehead that can shoot out laser death beams and becomes a purpledinosaur. Seriously! I should also addthat no one ever explains why everyone is fighting over the town.
I recommend this just because it is so weird in a coolway. (I will warn that this was veryvery violent and gory).
How could I not mention Mulan, who, to save her father fromdeath in the army, secretly goes in his place and becomes one of China'sgreatest heroes in the process. This wasthe first movie done by the Orlando Animation Studio (which sadly no longer exists). I remember seeing it develop it time I took the tour over at DisneyHollywood nee-MGM Studios. On one tour,the animator told us about a scene where Mulan sings "Reflection" inher father's shrine and told us to look at the writing on the temple stones. The writing was thenames of the Disney animators who worked on the film written in ancientChinese. I should also mention that although B.D. Wong (with an assist on singingfrom Donny “little bit Rock and Roll” Osmond) voices Chang in the US, he isplayed by none other than Jackie Chan in the Chinese version, which brings us full circle. His music video is below.
There was no equivalent to China, but there certainly have been homages (and no I don't mean the Trade Federation). First, there are the really cool light Sabre Chop Sticks. Plus, we have Star Wars Tai Chi, which by John Francis Leo, which is described as : 42 Movement Sword Form - Featuring Darth Vader. Chi is the Chinese word meaning 'life force' - an energy created by all living beings. A Tai Chi master's strength flows from this FORCE. Known for its health benefits, Tai Chi is in fact a martial art, evolved for combat over 4,000 years. The secret is inner calm, relaxed concentration and lethal precision. Enjoy!
Gong Hay Fat Choy!