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The colony writes back: nationalism and collaborative coloniality in the Ip Man series

Siu Keung Cheung (Department of Sociology, Hong Kong Shue Yan University, North Point, Hong Kong)
Wing Sang Law (Department of Cultural Studies, Hong Kong Lingnan University, Tuen Mum, Hong Kong)

Social Transformations in Chinese Societies

ISSN: 1871-2673

Article publication date: 5 September 2017




The majority of Hong Kong filmmakers have pursued co-production with China filmmakers for having the Mainland market at the expense of local styles and sensitivities. To many critics, the two-part series of Ip Man and Ip Man II provide a paradigmatic case of film co-production that sell the tricks of Chinese kung fu, regurgitating the overblown Chinese nationalism against Japanese and kwai-lo. The purpose of this study is to rectify such observation of the Ip Man series.


The authors read the series deconstructively as a postcolonial text in which Hong Kong identity is inscribed in the negotiated space in between different versions of Chinese nationalism.


The analysis points to the varying subversive features in the series from which Hong Kong’s colonial experiences are tacitly displayed, endorsed and rewritten into the Chinese nationalistic discourse whose dominance is questioned, if not debased.


This paper advances new research insights into the postcolonial reinvention of kung fu film and, by implication, the Hong Kong cinema in general.



Cheung, S.K. and Law, W.S. (2017), "The colony writes back: nationalism and collaborative coloniality in the Ip Man series", Social Transformations in Chinese Societies, Vol. 13 No. 2, pp. 159-172.



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Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

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