The Male Body in Martial Arts Movies Analytical Essay by Nicky

The Male Body in Martial Arts Movies
Analysis of the male body's role in martial arts film, particulary Kung Fu movies.
# 120196 | 1,699 words | 5 sources | MLA | 2010 | US

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This paper discusses the nature, use, and meaning of the male body within the context of martial arts film, specifically the traditional Hong Kong-style Kung Fu movie. The paper explains that the martial arts hero is a man of average height whose exceptionally fit body is proof of his skill and dedication, and his demeanor, his coiled muscularity (ready to strike, but calmly composed) is his personal testament to the superiority of his training. The paper clarifies that the heroes' fitness is differentiated from that of their opponents because the heroes "earn" their bodies; the physical manifestation of the martial arts hero is centered on the idea that they are apart from their enemies: they are in better shape, they are more attractive, they are of a greater moral strength, they are, in short, representations of physical perfection gained through honest labor. The paper adds that Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung, and Jet Li represent the core of the martial arts heroic catalog. The paper concludes that the body on display in the Hong Kong Kung Fu martial arts film is at once an example of exceptional fitness and highly complicated movement.

From the Paper:

"The male body is represented, within the context of the Kung Fu film, in three different ways: as male strength, as a testament to personal dedication, and as the bared identity of the character. In this, we have the body, mind, and soul. There is great purpose in using actors who are exceptionally fit, allowing them to perform feats of superhuman strength, agility, and speed, and in giving them accomplish absolutely impossible tasks, because this is their heroic journey. In virtually every martial arts film, and particularly those of Lee, Chan, Hung and Li, the star is the lone center. He is the Ronin, the last Samurai, the rebellious Monk - he is the outsider within the boundaries of his community. As such, it is his responsibility to defend and avenge his home, family, community, and people. Thus, when we see the male body we are seeing the entire summary both physical and metaphysical of the man himself - and, by extension, ourselves."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Anderson, Aaron. "Kinesthesia in Martial Arts Films". Jump Cut: A Review of Contemporary Media. 1998, 42:83, pp1-11.
  • Boelelli, Daniele. On the Warrior's Path: Philosophy, Fighting, and Martial Arts Mythology. Mumbai, India: Frog Books, 2003.
  • Gallagher, Mark. "Masculinity in Translation: Jackie Chan's Transcultural Star". Velvet Light Trap. Spring, 1997. p23(19).
  • Shu, Yuan. "Reading the Kung Fu Film in an American Context: From Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan". Journal of Popular Film and Television. 31:2. Summer, 2003. p50(10).
  • West, David. Chasing Dragons: An Introduction to the Martial Arts Film. New York: I.B. Tauris, Publisher. 2006.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

The Male Body in Martial Arts Movies (2010, June 06) Retrieved February 28, 2020, from

MLA Format

"The Male Body in Martial Arts Movies" 06 June 2010. Web. 28 February. 2020. <>