How to (watch myself) be seduced: Sexual Politics in Fengyue Films

Ching YAU

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsConference Paper (other)Other Conference Paper


Li Han-hsiang (Li Hanxiang) is a director whose cinematic achievement has been best remembered for his big-budget, elaborate Chinese historical epics, first during his Shaw period in 1956-1963 (The Kingdom and the Beauty/Jiangshan Meiran; Yang Kwei Fei/Yang Guidei; Empress Wu/Wu Zetian; The Love Eterne/Liang Shanbo yu Zhu Yingtai), and later through co-productions with China shot in
Beijing during 1983-1989 (Burning of the Imperial Palace/Huoshao Yuanming Yuan; Reign Behind the Curtain/Chuilian Tingzheng; The Last Emperor/Huo Lon; The Empress Dowager/Xi Taihou). However, between these two periods, alongside his huangmei diao (romantic musicals) and gongwei (palace chamber) dramas, he has also directed (mostly also scripted) a significant number of much “smaller” softcore sex comedies with period settings, constituting a genre of its own known as fengyue pian (“wind and moon” genre), a film genre supposedly invented by Li himself. These are often referred to as Li’s “cynical” films, portraying a world “morally corrupted” by vulgarity and all forms of “sexual perversions”. This paper seeks to re-examine these films intertextually in the context of Li’s authorship in Hong Kong in the 1970s-1990s, and to re-trace the radical potential of the fengyue genre in “talking back to” (and laughing at) Li’s historical epics. Like Li Ping-er in Jin Ping Mei who dreams of having sex with ghosts night after night (a story Li has told many times in his various adaptations of Jin Ping Mei), I would fantasize––through this paper––the various (non-romantic) ways in which Li seduces his audience (women in particular) through politicizing sexual agency, and the ways in which his cinematic texts sleep with Chinese (film-)historical narratives through self-reflexive pornographic imaginaries.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Mar 2007
EventBodies and Urban Spaces: A Workshop - Lingnan University, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Duration: 10 Mar 200710 Mar 2007


WorkshopBodies and Urban Spaces: A Workshop
Country/TerritoryHong Kong
CityHong Kong
OtherDepartment of Cultural Studies, Lingnan University
Internet address


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