Friday, 22 January 2016

Writing - Female warriors of China

You could be forgiven for thinking that I'd partly modelled my hero, Patrick A Steele, on one of the female warriors of China.

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Wuxia

Wuxia - a genre of Chinese fiction or cinema featuring itinerant warriors of ancient China, often depicted as capable of superhuman feats of martial arts.

These warriors are more often than not depicted as female. One of the latest films is The AssassinSet in the dying days of the Tang Dynasty, it tells the story of Yinniang, an assassin who kills corrupt politicians. When she is unable to complete an assignment after seeing her target playing with his children, she is sent back home to kill a beloved childhood friend, who now leads a powerful military force.
Perhaps I modelled Patrick Steele's fiancĂ©, Naomi Kobayashi (Japanese), but I can't even lay claim to that as I hadn't realised that WUXIA, as a genre, existed. However, the idea that the star of Assassin is just as keen to rid the world of corrupt politicians as is Patrick Steele.

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In fact The Assassins is described as a cross between Wolf Hall and Clint Eastwood's High Planes Drifter or Pale Rider. In fact Yinniang, the assassin, silently haunts the houses of the rich and powerful.

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At its most basic form, wuxia is a genre of Chinese fiction and cinema set in ancient China and centred around the heroic deeds of legendary warriors. The release of The Assassin reminds us how different artists can work within the wuxia tradition.
Over the last two decades, the Western mainstream has found that bombastic ‘kung fu’ film treatments go down the easiest, such as Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000), Hero (2002) and House of Flying Daggers (2004).
The release of The Assassin heralds another peak – or flying leap – in wuxia’s progress from Chinese legend to worldwide entertainment.

Of course another difference between the above and Steele is the fact that the martial art of which he is an exponent is Aikido. A discipline that uses the attacking thrusts of an enemy is channelled back against them. An oversimplification! 


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In fact these ancient wuxia stories appear in many art forms ranging from the written story through all media to opera. For a story to qualify for inclusion within the genre it should include the two elements wu, the martial combat spirit; and xia, which translates as chivalry or righteousness (moral certainty). 

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Author - Wena Poon

Taiwanese author Wena Poon, states that the closest hero to wuxia is not Sir Lancelot but Robin Hood. If you have followed my writing from the first Steele novel I Have To Get It Right, to now you will be aware that I've described Steele as a cross between Robin Hood and James Bond but of late I tend more towards the former.

In another sense it is a sign that stories written in the 21st century are as relevant as during the Tang Dynasty.

God Bless