by Jasper Wu

Anyone interested in Hong Kong culture and martial arts will most probably have heard of Bruce Lee. While Bruce Lee is the man who brought martial arts to big screens, there is another master who brought martial arts to novels—Dr. Louis Cha,[1] also known to his readers by his pen name, Jin Yong.

The works of Jin Yong have been, since their first publication, a leading reference for local wuxia novels and popular culture. The novels began as serial newspaper columns and were later republished as books. The Book and the Sword is the first of the collection, and was published in 1955 as a series in the Hong Kong newspaper The New Evening Post. The novel was well received at the time. Two years after this debut work, the first installment of the famous “Condor Trilogy,” The Legend of the Condor Heroes, was published in Hong Kong Commercial Daily. The other two installments are The Return of the Condor Heroes, published in 1959, and The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber, published in 1961 in Ming Pao. Besides its rich historical background of the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), this trilogy introduced many characters dear to readers.  The main protagonists of the first two books, Guo Jing and Yang Guo, are listed in a commentary by the celebrated novelist Ni Cong (pen name: Ni Kuang) as epic characters for their reflection of chivalrous qualities[2]. Combat styles created in Jin Yong’s works have also founded the basis of the city’s fictional martial arts and have become part of popular martial arts discourse. For instance, “Da Gou Bang Fa (Dog Beating Stick Style)” and “Xiang Long Shi Ba Zhang (18-Dragon Subduing Palms)” of the Bagger Clan in the trilogy are adopted as wugongs in Steven Chow’s comedies God of Cookery and King of Beggars. Not to mention, the fifteen works of the Jin Yong collection and the numerous TV, comic, and anime adaptations have been companions to many youngsters since the 50s. The collection’s popularity is transmodal and transgenerational.

If you are interested in the development of martial arts literatures and popular martial art references in the city, I would strongly recommend that you check out the recent addition to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum’s exhibitions: the Jin Yong Gallery. The Gallery is divided into three sections. The first section explains Jin Yong’s background and the historical development of the fifteen works. Viewers are provided a valuable opportunity to see the first manuscripts and copies of the original serial newspaper columns. The second section features adaptations of the books in other media. One of the highlights in this section is the tracing of the generations of local TV series produced from the books. Through March 27, the third section is a special exhibition focused on paintings adapted from the books. It provides a view of the visualization and interpretation of characters and scenes in the novels by artists. Together, the exhibition serves simultaneously as an introduction to Jin Yong’s wuxia novels, a history of the relationship between the novels and local popular culture, and a record of a Hong Kong legend.

Exhibition information:
Jin Yong Gallery: Permanent Exhibition.
Exhibitions on Paintings adapted from Jin Yong’s Novel: 1 – 27 March 2017.
Address: 1/F, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1 Man Lam Rd, Shat Tin, Hong Kong. [10 -15 minutes walk from MTR Che Kung Temple Station, Exit A]

You may also be interested in:
Bruce Lee: Kung Fu・Art・Life; 20 July 2013 – 20 July 2018
Address: Thematic Gallery 6, 2/F, Hong Kong Heritage Museum, 1 Man Lam Rd, Shat Tin, Hong Kong.

[1] Louis Cha was accomplished in many ways beyond his writing as Jin Yong. He was the co-founder of the HK daily Ming Pao in 1959 and its first editor in chief; he received an Honorary degree of Doctor of Social Sciences, honoris causa, from HKU in 1986; he actively participated in the drafting of the Basic Law in Hong Kong, and in order to show gratitude to his contributions (this amongst others), the Hong Kong SAR Government awarded Jin Yong the GBM (Grand Bauhinia Medal) in 2001. And of course—pertinent to scholars at HKU—he established the Louis Cha academic fund, which supports teaching and research in Chinese Studies and East-West Studies in the Faculty of Arts.

[2] See 倪匡.《我看金庸小說》. 重慶大學出版社, 2009.


Published on: April 6, 2017 < Back >