The death of heroes in China

X. Zhang*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


This article examines Hero and House of Flying Daggers, Zhang Yimou's first forays into the martial arts/action genre, against the shifting cultural landscape in contemporary China. It first offers a sketch of the development of the Fifth Generation filmmakers and Zhang Yimou's career trajectory in relation to the latest development in the cultural politics of contemporary Chinese cinema as a guide to the contextual structures which frame the examination of the two films. The article then goes on to a detailed reading of Hero and House of Flying Daggers. The author believes that drawing upon issues both internal and external to the "text" of the films yields new insights into the relationship between Chinese artists and the Party in terms of rebellion, co-option, and resubmission. The reading of the films leads to the conclusion that the films embody acts of change as well as continuity with the Fifth Generation and Zhang's career development, thus extending existing views on the relationship between filmmakers and the Party.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)119-137
Number of pages19
JournalChina Information
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Co-option
  • Death
  • Martial arts films
  • Rebellion
  • Zhang Yimou

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