Post #16: The Warrior Tradition

1. What are some elements of the “warrior tradition”?

As part of the warrior traditions, there are objects with inherent power like the Green Destiny in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and the three small daggers in The House of Flying Daggers. These objects, although not expensive or fancy, seem to have power, giving the women fighters in the movie power—it is hard for anyone to beat the Invincible Sword Goddess when she fights with the Green Destiny. Not only this, but the characters seem to fight with a force within, an internal force—the chi. Some of the characters especially in Crouching Dragon and characters like Bruce Lee in martial arts films fight after building up their internal strength using pauses or loud sounds and also leave time periods between their moves. Last but not least, the warrior tradition only involves fighting with swords, hands or other metallic fighting objects—no advanced technology like guns are used in the fights.

2. How is the natural world depicted in relation to martial arts?

The natural world changes with the mood of the scenes in the Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. In Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, when characters fight and steal things or out of true hatred, the natural world turns dark and gloomy. For example, when the Invincible Sword Goddess steals the Green Destiny, the surrounding atmosphere and sky turns dark and gloomy like when Jade Fox kills Wudan in the fight. On the other hand; however, the natural world turns more peaceful, quite and calm when the scenes depict peaceful fighting and love. When Li Mu Bai confesses his love to the old woman warrior who keeps peace, the two are surrounded by a peaceful bamboo forest. Not only this time, but when the Invincible Sword Goddess falls in love with the Mongolian tribesman, the natural world is calm and peaceful. Also, when Li Mu Bai fights the Invincible Sword Goddess, the characters are once again surrounded by a peaceful forest because their true intentions are not to hurt each other. In The House of Flying Daggers the natural world is not depicted much except for when the girl and the police man run away to the bamboo forest together. At first when things are peaceful and no one comes after them, the forest is depicted to be peaceful and the wind blows softly. Even when the fighting starts, the forest stays calm and quiet despite the sudden changes in camera angles to show how vulnerable the blind woman is to outside attack. Only in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon the depiction of the natural world is related to the depiction of martial arts.

 3. How are gender roles important to the scenes we watched?

Jade Fox Fighting Scene (Dark Background)

Jade Fox Fighting Scene (Dark Background

 Although there are a relatively equal number of female and male fighters, discrimination against females in the two movies we watched is evident. In the fighting scene between Jade Fox and Li Mu Bai in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Jade Fox’s reason for poisoning her old master and attacking his followers like Wudan and Li Mu Bai, is because she was discriminated against in the process of learning martial arts. As Jade Fox said, her master never taught her anything because she was a woman and instead she was used by him. This shows how women are inferior to men and how they are discriminated against. Not only this, but in the same movie, the Invincible Sword Goddess seems to go around dressed as a man. I think this is so because she believes that it is unacceptable to be a warrior as a woman. By dressing as a man and hiding her female characteristics, the Invincible Sword Goddess conveys the message that woman fighters are not accepted by society. This theme of women dressing up as men to fight in war is common. In the Disney movie “Mulan,” the main character disguises as a man to fight in war like how Fa Mu Lan’s voice in Kingston’s The Woman Warrior does. In the Woman Warrior Kingston states, “I put on my men’s clothes and armor and tied my hair back in a man’s fashion.” Fa Mu Lan probably did so in an attempt to be treated and respected equally as the men fighting in war (men were respected). Last but not least, when the Mongolian tribe leader takes the Invincible Sword Goddess’s comb, he tells all the other men that she is his. This shows how men consider women as property and have power over them. In The House of Flying Daggers women are inferior to men. Men, like the policeman, have power and authority and can pay for girls. The police man goes to the whore house and enjoys himself there with a bunch of girls surrounding him. When he throws two pieces of silver on the ground, asking for the new blind girl to come, the head woman at the whore house bows down and picks the silver up and obeys him. This shows how the men have more power in society. Even when the blind girl comes out, the man orders her to do things and takes her clothes off while she stands still. From these scenes it is evident that men have more power than women.  Although the characters seem to be living in a male dominated society and the men are a bit stronger in fighting than women, it seems as if they have similar skill levels in martial arts—the Invincible Sword Goddess and Jade Fox seem to be able to fight men and the blind woman seems to be able to fight the police man.

 4. What else caught your eye or is worth noting?

Mulan disguised as a man
Mulan disguised as a man

 The way in which the woman fighters in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fight is interesting. Jade Fox, the old peace keeping fighter, and the invincible sword goddess all fight with relatively small weapons that are kept in their hair or clothing. Because they do not have much power, I believe the female characters fight slyly with weapons hidden in their clothing, like the knife hidden in Jade Fox’s shoe. It is shown that female characters have trouble fighting with heavy weapons when the old peace keeping fighter fights with the Invincible Sword Goddess at the place where martial arts fighters train. In addition to this, it is surprising how the Invincible Sword Goddess, with all that power, still is controlled by her parents in marriage. Although she has ran away from her parents, it is surprising how she couldn’t fight against her parents’ will when she could steal the Green Destiny, fight all the men at the two-floor restaurant and so on. It shows that martial arts is a totally different world for these characters.

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