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Statistics :
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Lexic : N

New Territories
Handed over to Great Britain in 1898, the New Territories are vast agricultural lands, mainly situated on the continent and the isle of Lan Tao and which partly stretch over the Xi Jiang delta.

New Wave
In the 80s, Hong Kong also had its new wave (which has nothing to do with the one in France!). It’s at that time that new directors wanted to revolutionize HK cinema which had hardly left the hegemony of big studios such as Shaw Brothers. Those directors, most of the time trained in television, were Tsui Hark, Stanley Kwan, Kirk Wong, Patrick Tam Kar Ming, Ann Hui, Alex Cheung Kwok Ming, Eddie Fong, Clara Law and later Ringo Lam and Lawrence Ah Mon... Imbued with Western culture as well as their Chinese roots, they wanted to have their hands free to do the cinema they wished to do. Thus, it’s at that time that Tsui Hark would create the Film Workshop, Karl Maka the Cinema City

Ninjas are warriors from medieval Japan who had a great popularity during the Kamakura period (1185-1333).

The ninja art has several names in the image of those mystic warriors specialized in illusions, so one talks of ninjutsu, ninpo or even shinobi. Nin means ‘endurance’ and jutsu ‘techniques’. This art is said to have taken its source in Sun Zi’s art of war (Sun Zi bing fa). Ninjas belong to the lowest social class, the hinin (non-human) as opposed to samurais who belong to the Japanese nobility. Ninjas were samurais’ sworn enemies. The latter obeyed to the warrior’s code of honour, the Bushido, which wasn’t the case of the shadow warriors. A ninja would use all the tricks possible to achieve his ends, attacking from behind, a man who’s down, in groups, hiding, etc. Ninjas were secretly employed by lords (daimyo) to do the dirty work like spying, assassination… The fear they aroused was a formidable weapon, which was very convenient for them. The hawking of their exploits fuelled the popular imagination, so that numerous peasants at the time considered them as ghosts. They played an important role in the advent of the Tokugawa clan.

70 ninja families were registered in the mountainous regions of Iga and Koga (between Kyoto and Nagoya) renowned for their techniques of elimination. The ninpucho was a parchment which contained the techniques and secrets of a shinobi school. The required skills are: balance, agility, strength, endurance…

Specific skills : dislocation of the limbs after years of work on muscle straining and joints manipulation, in case of capture. Work on breathing, meditation, knowledge in herbs and especially poison… Ninjutsu contains a great number of weapons of which the most famous are throw knives (shuriken) and throw stars (shaken) that the fighter would hide in his belt.

A few weapons :
Shuko: gauntlet with iron hooks
Ninja to: ninja sabre
Tan to: knife
Musibinawa: rope with hook
Kyoketsu shoge: spear with hook and chain
Stephen K Hayes was the first American to get the title of shidoshi (master of the paths of the warrior’s inspiration), he studied with Dr. Masaaki Hatsumi, master of the Togakure school and of the 8 other systems of the ninja tradition.

Sources :

"Ninja, les guerriers de l’ombre” by Roland Habersetzer Ed : Amphora
Manual with the newsstand edition of Ninja Scroll Ed : SM4 SARL
"Méthodes de lutte orientale" by Peter Lewis Ed : Minerva

Selective filmography :
Red shadows: Akakage by Horoyuki Nakano
Dr Wai In " The Scripture With No Words " by Tony Ching Siu Tung
Ninja scroll (Jubei ninpucho) by Yoshiaki Kawajiri
Ninja In The Dragon’s Den by Corey Yuen
Duel To The Death by Tony Ching Siu Tung
Five Element Ninjas by Chang Cheh
Shinobi no mono by Satsuo Yamamoto
Carnets secrets des Ninja (Ninja bugeicho) by Nagisa Oshima

Novels / Novelists
Gu Long and Jin Yong (or Louis Cha) must be the most prolific novelists of the "Wu Xia", martial arts, literature. It’s Jin Yong who has influenced the Wu Xia Pian cinema of the 50s. He has renewed the genre, giving it a richness and a complexity which had been unknown so far. It’s only around the 70s that Gu Long’s novels revolutionized the Wu Xia Pian. His characters: lone, romantic, introspective… heroes.

Chu Yuan would adapt the most (and the best) his novels. Some (as Chu Yuan’s regular scriptwriter) would compare the novelist to a kind of ‘Chinese Alexandre Dumas’. Chinese literature isn’t limited though only to the Wu Xia literature and many other authors are even translated into French, as Lao She, Ba Jin, Wu King Tseu, etc.

Weapon made popular by Bruce Lee, those chained sticks can do great damage when one knows how to use them. Indeed, their handling requires much dexterity so as not to hurt oneself!

Basically, the nunchaku is a small flail in two parts linked by a rope or a chain, used to thresh straw, also called ‘so-setsu-kon’. The peasants of Okinawa made a fearsome weapon out of this work tool and worked out numerous techniques relating to its handling. (Webmartial.com)

Michael Hui and Stephen Chow have paid homage to the master in the films The Private Eyes and God Of Gamblers 2, in which nunchakus have been respectively replaced by sausages and caustic cleaners !!!


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