A-kickin' Femmes & the Men Who Love Them
September 10, 2001 7:08 PM   Subscribe

A-kickin' Femmes & the Men Who Love Them Female action heroes, a la Lara Croft, and the girls of Charlie's Angels, are wildly popular, while their male counterparts hit the skids. And men almost certainly make up a large part of the audience for the movies. Just a trend? Or deserving of an at-times overwrought analysis? Does Crouching Tiger . . . really fit here?
posted by raysmj (9 comments total)
Well if you're a 13 year old boy and you had to pick either Danger Girl and Gen 13 or the Incredible Hulk and GI Joe. What would you pick? I guess this just translates into more money from the older boys at the box office.
posted by riffola at 7:17 PM on September 10, 2001

Does Crouching Tiger . . . really fit here?

If I recall correctly, there was only on male lead in that movie, so, yes, it does.
posted by eyeballkid at 7:31 PM on September 10, 2001

eyeballkid: But it wasn't made in the U.S. or North America, like all the other films and TV shows mentioned in the article. Have female leads been more accepted in Hong Kong movies over the years? Or is there a back-and-forth influence going on here between Hong Kong and Hollywood? Or is it just coincidence? Otherwise, the only link is the audience.
posted by raysmj at 7:48 PM on September 10, 2001

Crouching Tiger was made for American audiences anyway, and they ate it up, much more than Asian audiences, who basically yawned at it. Personally, while I admire Zhang Ziyi's martial arts prowess, her acting abilitry leaves much to be desired.

There were a couple of male leads and a couple of female leads in Crouching Tiger anyway, so I don't see how this movie fits into the "Gee, Why Aren't Male 80's Stars as Popular as They Once Were?" theme.
posted by Poagao at 8:11 PM on September 10, 2001

poagao: I didn't see that '80s thing as necessarily being the main theme, although it may have been a blind alley the journalist was running down. The question for me is more, Why no big male action hero replacements of Arnold, Sly, etc.? Mr. Reeves is fairly androgynous. Tom Cruise in MI, maybe? Not really, since it's understood it's a Tom Cruise side project. In any case, there are a million different directions you could go with the female action hero idea. The idea that female a-kickin' is a vastly more prominent feature of American cinema than anyone could've imagined even five years ago is worth exploring regardless, seems to me. It's a wonder you haven't seen more articles like this one in fairly mainstream sources.
posted by raysmj at 10:42 PM on September 10, 2001

Crouching Tiger was made for American audiences anyway, and they ate it up, much more than Asian audiences, who basically yawned at it.

From my reading on the subject, it seems as though Chinese audiences mainly rejected Crouching Tiger because the leads were not native speakers of Mandarin, and their accents and line readings were terrible.

And I have to disagree with you about Zhang Ziyi's performance. Jen was thoughtless, brash, impetuous, willful, badly in need of guidance: I felt Ziyi did an amazing job showing all the layers of rich-girl petulance and warrior arrogance and wild abandon that came together in the character. I went to see the film for Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun-Fat, who were both amazing, but it was Zhang Zi-yi who wound up surprising and delighting me the most.
posted by Zettai at 12:25 AM on September 11, 2001

The weird accents were one reason Chinese audiences were less than thrilled with the movie, even though various accents were probably typical back then. They were all understandable, at least.

Another reason was that most of what US audiences thought fresh and exotic was typical fare for Chinese audiences. It felt like Lee was trying too hard to get back to his roots by making what he thought of as the quintessential kung-fu flick.

I thought Michelle Yeoh's performance was great, and Chow Yun-fat was pretty good considering he didn't know martial arts, but Zhang's "mysterious petulance" only got me so far before I was wishing for some other expression, any other expression.
posted by Poagao at 12:41 AM on September 11, 2001

Definately overanalysis. All male leads in the movies and it's a boys club with all the men getting the best roles. All female leads and it's objectifying women for a male audience. Look for a reason other than men for a change.
posted by krisjohn at 1:14 AM on September 11, 2001

kind of makes me think of the difference between Superman and Supergirl I don't think she made it that good in the 80's. But now must admit girls out there are definitely kicking ass and Crouching Tiger was the most convincing I thought of illustrating that point. I dont really think the argument is to do with the guy|girl thing at all, but more about the character, story, stunts, the motion graphic effects. It seems in movie world we can be anything and everything past or present.
posted by asfaras at 2:04 AM on September 11, 2001

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