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Lexic : K

Japanese word composed of 'kara' ('empty') and 'oke' (abbreviation of 'okesutura' i.e. 'orchestra', which can be translated as 'empty orchestra'.

In Hong Kong, when one wants to have fun, one goes to the cinema or nightclub but above all perform in a karaoke bar! Karaoke consists in singing popular hits thanks to screen on which the lyrics scroll. Of course, it's a group activity so that those who attend the performance can laugh at the singer (that's malicious gossip!). It's an extremely popular activity in Hong Kong and more generally in Asia. It's quite often used as background music in films, so as to be very faithful to local life but, more rarely, it was the main subject of films like, for example, the strange Haunted Karaoke ( ! ).

Japanese martial art, the term 'kara te' means 'empty hand'.

With Judo and Jujitsu, Karate is regarded as Japan's martial art par excellence. Recognized for its efficiency and strength, it's one of the most popular fighting techniques around the world under its original form or its Western variation called kickboxing. Most martial arts cinema stars, both Asian and Occidental, have trained themselves to it or know a few rudiments in order to perfect their fighting styles. Given its origins, Karate is also the favourite style of numerous Japanese characters who appeared in Kung Fu films: fearsome martial brutes most of the time.

The origin of Karate goes back to India with the Buddhist monks' practice. As Buddhism expands over Asia those techniques absorb local fighting forms and end up reaching Japan. It's especially in Okinawa, in the 16th century, that the Japanese will perfect Karate, adding their search for the ultimate blow (inherited from the spirit of the sword) to the previous contributions. Karate will very quickly establish itself in Okinawa's popular stratum then in the rest of Japan in the 19th century. Like Kung Fu in China, Karate is composed of many different styles, one of the most famous being Kyokushinkai. For a long time, the Japanese have been the regular bad guys in Hong Kong films, that's why Karate is logically their martial art. However, those Japanese bad guys were often played by Chinese or even Korean actors, the Karate shown on screen therefore lost a bit of its authenticity.

One will have to wait for the recourse to real Japanese martial artists for Karate to be better represented in Hongkongese films. It's especially the excellent Yasuaki Kurata who took part in its highlighting, in films like Heroes Of The East - Shaolin Vs Ninja by Liu Chia Liang or Legend Of A Fighter by Yuen Woo Ping he really has the opportunity to show what his martial art is capable of.

For more details on the origins of Karate and its representation in cinema see the karate file.

Karma means 'action' in Sanskrit, sometimes translated by 'causality of acts'. It's a law which explains that an individual's experience is the fruit of his/her past actions (done a few minutes ago, yesterday, in previous lives, etc.) and that his/her future depends on the quality, negative or positive, of acts done presently.

Sources : Encarta - "La vie est à nous" by His Holiness the 14th Dalai-Lama and by Fabien Ouaki Ed : Pocket

Kowloon ('9 dragons' in Cantonese) covers Hong Kong's peninsular part. It's a more popular part compared to the more 'posh' Hong Kong Island.

Kung Fu Comedy
Genre which, as the name indicates, mingles Kung-fu and comic sequences.

The great Liu Chia Liangg was one of the first to try the mix with his Spiritual Boxer but it's really with Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow by de Yuen Woo Ping with Jackie Chan that the genre will definitely take shape and lead to a stream of imitations, the most successful ones are certainly those made by great names like Sammo Hung and Liu Chia Liang. Let's thus name Knockabout or Mad Monkey Kung Fu. But of course, Jackie Chan remains the figurehead of the genre with films like The Young Master or Dragon Lord.

It will decline in the early 80s to hand over contemporary action films under the influence of… Sammo and Jackie.

Arnaud Lanuque

Kung Fu Pian
Literally Kung Fu film (in Mandarin).

To go back to the origin of Kung-fu films is something touchy given the very little information on the beginnings of Chinese cinema but it would seem that the first films using it were the Wong Fei Hung series with Kwan Tak Hing, started in 1949 with the film The True Story of Huang Feihong. He will continue it until 1970. Then, others will take over, each time reviving the genre: Jimmy Wang Yu and his Chinese Boxer, Bruce Lee with Big Boss, Gordon Liu in The 36th Chamber of Shaolin, Jackie Chan in Drunken Master or more recently Jet Li in the following to Wong Fei Hung's adventures with Once Upon a Time in China.

The genre is dormant now in Hong Kong but it will undoubtedly reappear in some form or another in the future.

Kung Hei Fat Choi
Typically Hongkongese phrase which means 'I wish you to earn a lot of money', and which is uttered for the Chinese New Year.

"gong xi fa cai" in mandarin.

A part of this phrase can be found in the film title Fat Choi Spirit with Andy Lau Tak Wah.

Nowadays, the word 'kung-fu' is used to designate the Chinese martial arts, but actually, it isn't necessary linked to them. In fact, kung-fu (or gong fu) designates the time and energy spent in the learning of something, that can be martial arts but also medicine, cooking, etc. This misrepresentation appeared when Bruce Lee talked about his kung-fu in his interviews in the Occident, that's when the audience linked this term to his martial arts. The exact term to designate the Chinese martial arts is 'wushu'.

Kwan / Guan Dao
Long halberd popularized by the Shaolin monks the name of which is a reference to the famous general Kwan Yu (see Guan Gong), renowned character from the novel 'The Three Kingdoms' (San guo yanyi) by Luo Guan-Zhong. The legend has it that he used a 27kg halberd.
This weapon comes from the spear. To compensate the blade's weight a ring or a point was added to the shaft's end. This weapon was often used to confront horsemen.

Source : Budo international n°102


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