Chinese and Western exceptionalism as portrayed through a couple of crap movies

Qingdao Municipal Hospital, in the city’s DongHai Zhong Lu, might be one of the best hospitals in China and it is not going to be one of the worst. Nevertheless, “one of the best” will still mean sharing a room with one more person and normally in China sharing a room with one more person means sharing a room with, at least, another three. It would appear that in China nurses duties are confined to sticking a drip full of vitamins and antibiotics into the patient’s arm three times a day and it is certain that neither they, nor anyone else, bring meals to the patients. In fact, the hospitals do not provide meals and it is quite normal for the patient to rely on friends or family and to have someone in the room looking after them.

Anyway, there was ego, with the guy the company had sent to look after him sleeping on the floor next to his bed, and there was the young lad in the next bed with his mate on the floor next to him, and there they were, one of them unwillingly, watching television until three or four in the morning. Some 68 channels on the local digital network and on some fifty of them the Chinese fighting the Japanese. Therefore, when it came to the writer of this post watching the first Ip Man film, he was already aware of the fact that for this genre to be popular in the PRC, the Japanese were going to be depicted as “giggling sadists or implacable killing machines. Well, we can have no doubts about who the aggressors in the Second Sino-Japanese War were, and there were indeed more than a few giggling sadists on the loose during the occupation of Nanjing. That is why, when watching the film, we should be content to sit back, relax and enjoy the martial arts scenes, and just enjoy the baddies getting their come-uppins.

However, when the stage shifts from Japanese-occupied Foshan to Hong Kong In Ip Man 2 sitting back and relaxing becomes a little bit more difficult as we become increasingly aware that what we are watching here is unadultarated nationalistic crap for while British and Japanese imperialism might share a number of traits when it comes to brutality, arrogance and racism, Hong Kong in the 1950s cannot be compared to Japanese occupied Foshan. Yet, such a comparison is deemed necessary in order to appeal to both that sense of exceptionalism and also that rather dated underdog sentiment, which nationalism feeds off of. Moreover, while one reviewer might view the film as “basically a Chinese version of Rocky IV“, it should be added that the boxer “twister”, played by Darren Majian Shahlavi, is actually less convincing than Ivan Drago, played by Dolph Lundren was. Therefore, even if we could forget the nationalism, the exceptionalism, and the dated underdog sentiment, it would still be difficult to sit back and relax. This is quite simply a crap film. Unfortunately, the evidence would appear to suggest that especially bad films can be an excellent vehicle for  jingoistic trash and it is that which leaves me empathizing with one blogger who comments, “I just hope they don’t go for a third outing — who’s left for Ip to fight and uphold Chinese exceptionalism, a Tibetan?

Of course, this has been going on for a long time and it is difficult to forget John Wayne in the Green Berets saving children from the bad communists at a time when the Americans were actually killing children in Vietnam. Still, it helped the mindless morons back home to not even consider that particular reality, let alone contemplate why the United States was actually in South East Asia. Nothing has changed and it would appear that the new superpower will also be playing the jingoistic tune to deflect its people away from their real problems. These problems are, of course, not exclusive and not exceptional, but they are shared. Strikes in Shaanxi and Sichuan , a monthly minimum wage, of only 1,450 yuan in Shanghai, having just been increased, the rich getting richer, and the poor poorer, this is the narrative that has to be told and it is one we can find all over the globe and while Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone and, yes, Donnie Yen, can  offer us a sometimes healthy mindless escapism, anything that facilitates our failing to empathize with the real narrative when we get back to the real world, should be rejected.


About sanculottist

There are a lot of poor bastards out there being used and abused; it is just not cricket "old bean". Something tells me that ignorance is not bliss, but is, in fact, simply ignorance and in the global village we cannot look the other way.
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