From Jackie Chan to Ang Lee, from “Supercop” to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” Chinese cinema has truly arrived in the United States. Whether one is speaking of Jet Li martial arts blockbusters, historical epics like Chen Kaige’s “Farewell My Concubine,” or evocative art films like Edward Yang’s “Yi Yi” and Wong Kar Wai’s “In the Mood for Love,” the astonishing variety, quality, and inventiveness of movies from the three filmmaking regions of Greater China have caught the imagination of film buffs and Hollywood studios alike, ensuring that more and more works from these dynamic industries will find an eager American audience.
But this startling diversity springs from common roots. “Once Upon a Time in China” is the first time that the unique cinemas of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Mainland have been explored in parallel, showcasing the feuds and family ties, the epic confrontations and subtle machinations, through which contemporary Chinese film has evolved.
With wit and a true passion for the subject, author Jeff Yang, former publisher of “aMagazine” — the nation’s premier Asian American periodical — and coauthor of action icon Jackie Chan’s autobiography, offers a colorful journey through the history of Chinese cinema, its standout stars, moguls, and icons, and more than 350 of its most distinctive works.