Swordsman II: Performance and Performativity

  • Kim-mui E. Elaine ChanEmail author
Part of the East Asian Popular Culture book series (EAPC)


Drawing on C. Metz’s psychoanalytic film theory and J. Butler’s gender theory, this chapter identifies a strategy of cinematic-identification-cum-de-identification in Swordsman II: the East is Red which introduces a new dimension of making meanings and interpretations. The discussion begins with a critical examination of the persona of a female Hong Kong-Taiwanese artist. This chapter argues that the film puts the local viewers in a dilemma of de-identification. When the artist’s gender-specific body reenacts its respective gender-specific roles as at once male and female, it creates a visual conundrum. At different points of the film, the malleable performativity of this artist, substantiated diegetically in her ‘cross-dressed’ performance, creates ambiguous gender mis-recognition. While the film invokes a sense of ‘masculinity’ crisis, it also evokes genre expectations of film noir. As a result, the film destabilizes, differs and defers an interpretation of crises—personal, social, political and cultural.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Academy of FilmHong Kong Baptist UniversityKowloonHong Kong

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