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Sino-EnchantmentThe Fantastic in Contemporary Chinese Cinemas$
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Kenneth Chan and Andrew Stuckey

Print publication date: 2021

Print ISBN-13: 9781474460842

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2022

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474460842.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 06 July 2022

The Blockbuster Breakthrough: The Fantastic in Hero

The Blockbuster Breakthrough: The Fantastic in Hero

(p.71) Chapter 4 The Blockbuster Breakthrough: The Fantastic in Hero

Li Yang

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter identifies the fantastic as a crucial element that makes Zhang Yimou’s Hero (2002) the first successful locally grown blockbuster in China. In addition to a high budget and all-star cast, Hero distinguished itself from many previous failed blockbuster attempts though a “fantastic” makeover that turned a household historical tale into an enthralling viewing experience featuring mythicised narrative and spectacular visuals. The fantastic energy, unleashed by the adoption of the beloved martial arts film genre, helped to find the optimal aesthetic solution to the imported blockbuster financial model and to land the film at the balance point between art and commerce. The result was a stylistically unique, yet crowd-pleasing, local blockbuster that channelled the wonderous exhibitionist impulse of early cinema and ushered Chinese commercial cinema into a new era.

Keywords:   blockbuster, Chinese commercial cinema, Hero, Zhang Yimou, the fantastic, martial arts film

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