Final Call for Papers: The Cinema of Stephen Chow

Editors: Gary Bettinson and Vivian P. Y. Lee

Stephen Chow Sing-chi is one of Hong Kong cinema’s most enduringly popular stars and among its most commercially successful directors, yet no English-language book-length study of Chow’s work currently exists. The proposed volume seeks to correct this lacuna. Chow’s long-standing film career spans key industrial shifts in Hong Kong cinema’s history, straddling the “last golden era” of the late-1980s and early 1990s, the economic downturn of the mid-late 1990s, the CEPA-era surge toward high-concept blockbuster production, and the increasing imbrication of Hong Kong and Mainland China’s film industries. As the local film industry has changed, so Chow’s popular image has evolved. Chow has seemed, at different times, a quintessentially “local” filmmaker, harnessing his distinctive brand of humour to the Cantonese vernacular; a Hollywood-style filmmaker, embracing US cinema’s technological innovations and finding acclaim in Western markets; and latterly, a PRC filmmaker, mounting his recent movies as Mainland Chinese productions. In the process, he has become a more elusive figure in front of the camera, refusing to capitalize on the international stardom he achieved with/Shaolin Soccer/(2001) and/Kung Fu Hustle/(2004), and – like contemporaries as dissimilar as Jackie Chan and Wong Kar-wai – putting his gilded legacy in Hong Kong at risk by apparently turning his back on local film culture (or at least, local film production). Whatever the context of production, and no matter how we attempt to categorize his work, Chow has sustained his cultural relevance for over thirty years. This deceptively complex figure and his multifaceted oeuvre offers fertile material for in-depth critical reflection and analysis.

Chow’s cinema invites study from many angles; accordingly, we seek a variety of methodological approaches. Suggested topics include, but are not limited to:

  • The cultural legacy and influence of Stephen Chow
  • Sexuality and gender politics
  • The ethnic and racial politics of Chow’s cinema
  • Class representation
  • Chow as auteur
  • Chow and the high-concept blockbuster
  • The Fantastic
  • Technological spectacle, CGI, 3-D, IMAX
  • Martial-arts choreography
  • Genre
  • Cantonese/mo-lei-tau/comedy
  • Physical comedy and the body in action
  • Representations of “Chineseness”
  • Film series (e.g. the/Royal Tramp/,/Fight Back to School/, and/King
    of Comedy/films)
  • Censorship
  • Regional and/or international co-production
  • Chow in the post-CEPA period
  • Chow and literary adaptation
  • Sound design and music analysis
  • Abandoned projects and unmade films
  • Performance style
  • Discourses of stardom and celebrity
  • Narrative and characterization
  • The globalization of Chow’s cinema
  • Marketing and promotion
  • Reception of Chow’s cinema in local and foreign markets
  • Chow’s contested status as a/Hong Kong/filmmaker and star
  • Chow and his collaborators
  • New thematic readings of Chow’s films
  • Chow’s place within the Hong Kong and Chinese film industries

Please send chapter abstracts of 500-700 words and a biographical note to both Gary Bettinson ((g.bettinson /at/ ) and Vivian P. Y. Lee (( /at/ ) by 10 January, 2022. We will notify authors of acceptance by 1 February, 2022. Final chapters of 6000-8000 words are due by 1 November 2022.