Thefilms, “Once Upon a Time China,” “The Killers,” and “HappyTogether,” are all Chinese movies, though produced in differentyears. They portray the influence of the Western culture in thecountry. Other than the years of production, there is also adifference in the genres, whereby one is gang-related (“TheKillers”), another revolves around love (“Happy Together”),while the last is more historic by talking about the history of HongKong becoming a British colony (“Once Upon a Time China”). Thisessay reviews each film by focusing on how the theme ofwesternization is represented.
“OnceUpon a Time China”
Directedby Tsiu Hark and focusing on the character of a renowned Chinese folkstar, Wong Fei-Hung, this film can easily be dismissed as morepolitical and violent, but a deeper look at it exposes howwesternization is a major part of it. Like most movies centered onChinese culture, Kung Fu, as a means of fighting, is predominant andthe introduction of guns to fighting changes the scene. As onecharacter says during his last living moments, guns are more superiorto martial arts, which means that the Chinese will have to abandonthe traditional approach to things and accept the modern (Onceupon a time in China and the 1997 question, 2013). TheChinese in Hong Kong are fighting in resistance to colonialism by theBritish and their eventual surrender presents the introduction ofWestern culture to the region. As a result, the people become moreaccepting of the new things brought to them from the West.Essentially, the film successfully depicts the transition of Chinafrom traditionalism to modernism.
“TheKiller” is a 1989’s film directed by John Woo. It is largelygang-related with the lead characters being engaged in variousshootout incidences against rival groups. However, to depict thetheme of westernization, the focus is on how the it shows thecharacters as Christians, where the lead character, Ah Jong, is seenin church at the beginning of the film and in between the scenes ashe is being treated. Though not a religious movie, the inclusion ofchurch in it depicts the existence of Christianity in modern China,which is a result of western influence. It should be noted that theChinese are not traditionally Christians (Pollock,2013).Therefore, that shows that away from where the other movie left off,the Chinese have accepted more of the western culture including theirreligion, which unites the two films in the theme of westernization.
Highlyknown as a romance film, “Happy Together” dates back to 1997 andwas produced by Wong Kar-wai focusing on the love story between twomen. In the plot of the movie, Ho and Lai are presented as a gaycouple who constantly breaks up and reconciles by trying to rekindletheir love when they move to Argentina. They, however, break up andgo their separate ways until Ho needs care. In return, Lai offers tohelp, which sees them get together until Ho goes back to cheatingonce again(Davies,2013).Away from all the romance, gayism is largely the center of theromantic relationships, which is truly not a traditionally acceptedpractice amongst the Chinese. Considering the time this movie wasproduced, the reception of this relationship could be due to westerninfluence permitting the men to be free to seek their own passions asopposed to what the conservative Chinese traditional culture wouldallow.
Thethree movies manage to bring out the transition of Chinese culturefrom traditional to more western through their plots. In essence,this could be due to the colonial influence as explained by the firstfilm “Once Upon a Time China”. It is clear that the theme ofwesternization is the most prominent in the three movies.
Davies,E. (2013). Film review: Happy together (1997). AMight Fine Blog.Retrieved fromhttp://www.amightyfineblog.com/2013/01/film-review-happy-together-1997.html
Onceupon a time in China and the 1997 question. (2013). AbbasMustafa.Retrieved fromhttps://abbasmustafa.wordpress.com/2013/04/20/once-upon-a-time-in-china-and-the-1997-question/
Pollock,J. (2013). Movie of the day: The killer (1989). Chud.com.Retrieved fromhttp://www.chud.com/125641/movie-of-the-day-the-killer-1989/