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Worldly Desires

Cosmopolitanism and Cinema in Hong Kong and Taiwan

Brian Hu

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Examines the role that cinema played in imagining Hong Kong and Taiwan’s place in the world

How does cinema imagine our place in the world? Worldly Desires: Cosmopolitanism and Cinema in Hong Kong and Taiwan looks at the studios, films and policies that charted the transnational vision of Hong Kong and Taiwan, two places with an uneasy relationship to the idea of nationhood. Examining the cultural, political and industrial overlaps between these cinemas, as well as the areas where they uniquely parallel each other, this book brings together perspectives from cinema studies, Chinese studies and Asian American studies to show how culture is produced in the spaces between empires. With case studies of popular stars like Linda Lin Dai and Edison Chen, and spectacular genres like the Shaolin Temple cycle of martial arts films, the book explores what it meant to be both cosmopolitan and Chinese in the second half of the 20th century.

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Chapter 1: Melodramas of Arrival and Departure: jet-set students in 1970s Taiwanese romance
Chapter 2: ABCs, Mixed-race Stars, and other Monsters of Globalization
Chapter 3: Setting the Stage: Hong Kong musical stars take on the world
Chapter 4: All the Right Moves: mobile heroes and the Shaolin Temple film
Chapter 5: The Cosmopolitan Brand: film policy as cultural work in the international film market
Chapter 6: Conclusion

About the Author

Brian Hu is Assistant Professor in Television, Film, and New Media at San Diego State University. He is also the Artistic Director of the San Diego Asian Film Festival.


Both theoretically rigorous and fun to read, Worldly Desires is a fully cinematic exploration of how the Sinophone cinemas of Taiwan and Hong Kong have imagined exhilarating aspirations to transition from local to world citizenship, as well as more fraught yearnings for global recognition.

- Professor Chris Berry, King's College London

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