Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Liberal Arts (M.L.A.)

Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Maria Cizmic, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Amy Rust, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Daniel Belgrad, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Benjamin Goldberg, Ph.D.


Confucianism, Hong Kong, Kung Fu film, Modernity


My argument is that the Wong Fei-hung film series, Once Upon a Time in China (Tsui Hark, Chapters 1, 2, 3), not only affirms the ideas of Confucianism but also criticizes them. Tsui Hark’s film series express Hong Kong’s tension of selecting eastern tradition and western modernity before it returned to mainland China in 1997, which represents the selection of entirely different values between East and West. Though the film series was made from 1991 to 1993, Hark started considering how to eliminate the uncertainty in selecting ideology after Hong Kong’s return. He provides his answer by combining eastern Confucianism and western modernity to lead Hong Kong to build a more inclusive nationalism. This new nationalism not only transforms tense uncertainty into positive potentiality but also avoids the intense conflict between those who select eastern values and those who select western ones.

Tsui Hark's affirmation to Confucianism includes the traditional moral principles which are kindness, righteousness, wisdom, sincerity and “father guides son”. Meanwhile, he affirms the individualism and anti-tradition of modernity. For Hong Kong, Hark's implication is to let them take the Chinese nation as the prerequisite for safeguarding the unification of China and abiding by the leadership of state sovereignty, as well as accepting the traditional Confucian morality. In addition, as a modern city, Hong Kong should continue to carry forward individualism and anti-tradition of modernity to satisfies the individual's reasonable desires and challenge the traditional with creativity. In this thesis, I support this argument by analyzing two aspects of these films: character and genre.