Gender and Sexual Translation in John Woo’s Migration to Hollywood
This chapter compares John Woo's Hong Kong and Hollywood films in order to scrutinize the differing representations of gender they offer in relation to the different generic configurations at work in each production context. It seeks to identify which aspects of these representations have passed the test of cultural translatability and which have not. It examines how Woo's generation of a series of action and pathos driven films negotiates generically gendered bodies and how these undergo a radical shift within his Hollywood output. It asks what were the perceived assets of Woo's crossover appeal for Western audiences that led Universal to make him the first ever Chinese director in charge of a multimillion dollar motion picture, and what were the seemingly dangerous aspects of his representational templates that had to be “translated” to the social, sexual, and cultural codes of Western popular culture. In particular, the chapter explores the shift from male-to-male narratives and subordinated femininity to the heterosexual romance that dominates most of his American films.
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