Kyle Barrowman 2016

Martial Arts Cinema as an Invitation to Projective Imagination

Abstract: In the decades since the initial popular explosion of martial arts cinema across the globe, debates over realism have appeared in a multitude of critical and theoretical contexts. Yet, for as pervasive as realism has been in the work of scholars interested in martial arts cinema, the rigorousness with which it has been dealt has left much to be desired. Building off of previous research into the perplexities of realism, I intend in this presentation to develop Stanley Cavell’s concept of “projective imagination” in relation to martial arts cinema. Through a consideration of previous scholars’ efforts at understanding realism in martial arts cinema, as well as an explication of my own understanding, I hope to demonstrate the validity and the viability of projective imagination as a conceptual anchor for future efforts in exploring the endlessly fascinating relationship between martial arts practice and martial arts cinema.