Miramax and the Re-scoring of Hong Kong Martial Arts Films.
In the late 1990s, recognizing the growing American fan base for Hong Kong cinema, American distributor Miramax developed itself into a dominant player in the distribution of Hong Kong martial arts films in the United States. However, as Miramax aimed to reach a wide audience, the films they released were often re-edited, re-scored, re-dubbed, and re-titled in such a way as to minimize the ‘foreigness’ and make them more appealing to American audiences. These practices, however, generated much resistance from Hong Kong cinema fans who demanded to be given the option to view the original subtitled version of the film. For many fans, the idiosyncratic nature of the original version together with its typical sound effects and music are part of the appeal of Hong Kong films. This paper examines the differences between these versions from the perspective of sound. It investigates how the different sound tracks lead to different martial arts film aesthetics.
Johnson LEOW is currently a third year Ph.D. student in ethnomusicology at The Chinese University of Hong Kong. He received his Masters degree in cultural musicology from the University of Amsterdam with a research focus on East-West cultural interactions, East-Asian popular culture, and film sound studies. His current research focuses on the sound aesthetics of post-1990s Hong Kong martial arts films.