Reflection – Gallants – CUEAFS Screening

Film: Gallants
Directors: Clement Sze-Kit Cheng, Chi-kin Kwok

IMDb page

‘Gallants’ is a Kung Fu story, but with less special effects and ‘more flesh and bones’. Although it contains a lot of pure fighting scenes, the focus is on the human level, emotions, relationships and characters. It’s a film about the human spirit, the inner strength and energy, a story about determination in life, told with Kung Fu aesthetics.

This is one of the first East Asian films I have seen, so I can’t make a real comparison or critisise the film. Instead, I will just try to comment and interpret it in my own way.

One of the aspects of the film that impressed me were the bright, warm colours. Unlike European and American cinema, which use more gray and blueish colours, here it seemed everything had a yellow/orange/red touch. The film was beautifully made – especially when it comes to lighting. It made the emotions feel more intense and real, and the story – even deeper.

Quotes from the film:

You may insult me, but not my master!

The concept that the master’s name is more important, and that the student can give up everything to save his master’s honour, is impressive. The student-master connection seems to be stronger than the family connections. What is more, the master is treated with so much respect that even people who have nothing to do with Kung Fu admire him and take his authority for granted.

How dare you say my brother’s wrong?

Especially if the brother is older – the older you get, the more respect people need to have for you. By definition, age means wisdom.

Chinese never fight with Chinese

Everyone in your people is a fellow; if you need to fight with someone, this is the enemy – which should never be another Chinese.

My boss’ friend is my friend

Again, the blind respect for people superior than you; whoever is in charge / is older / has more money, is always there for a reason – because they deserve it, and there can be no doubt about it.

It’s not about the fight anymore – it’s about package and promotion

That’s a line by one of the ‘modern’ fighters – who look at Kung Fu as a source of profit; a product that can be marketed and consumed. Still, the episode clearly shows it’s not how things need to be; the most skilled fighter in the ‘modern’ club is not there for the money alone – we see him fighting in a clean, traditional way, taking it serious. These are called Martial arts for a reason – because it’s an art that needs to be mastered, a state of mind you need to be in order to become a good fighter.

The boxing ring is only a place

It’s not the place of the fight that’s important – it’s the fight itself.

It’s not about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you get hit

It’s all about stamina, your ability to keep your focus, determination and inner strength throughout the fight; to get back on your feet even when you’re in great pain; to fight until the end – that shows you real, inner strenght. If your spirit is strong, your body will be too.

Winning is not everything

It doesn’t matter if you win the fight – more important is your attitude; your technique, your spirit and focus; the determination. It is more notable if you are noble and brave, and even lose in honour, than to be just this strong guy who wins the fight. What is more – you can learn much from the enemy, from your mistakes if you lose. Kung Fu can make you a better person – the lessons learned in the fight are equally as important in everyday life.

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