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Wuxia classics are the glory of Chinese cinema and their heroes are very much like the Robin Hoods of the West. But Raymond Zhou finds new wuxia productions are often mediocre in concept and suggests that it will take a new mindset before a breakthrough can be achieved.
By most accounts, wuxia is the only film genre invented by Chinese-language cinema. You know it when you see it, but it is not quite easy to define. Wuxia is commonly known as martial arts or kung fu. Both these terms - the second coined in Hong Kong and spread to the rest of the country - describe the action, not the spirit. In that narrow sense, it is a kind of Chinese action film, usually set in ancient times. The Chinese word wuxia contains wu, meaning "martial" or "military" and referring to the action, and xia, roughly translated as "chivalry". As we all know, Chinese "chivalry" is very different from the Western code of conduct associated with the medieval institute of knighthood. For one thing, Lancelot's courting of Queen Guinevere has never been adapted into a Chinese play or film.
A typical wuxia movie combines the element of action with a moral code in a ratio the filmmaker sees fit. If you have 100 percent wu and no xia, you have a video of a martial-arts competition. If it's all xia without any wu, then it would be a courtroom drama or some other kind of drama.