Experts in Action: Transnational Hong Kong-Style Stunt Work and Performance (Paperback)
Action movie stars ranging from Jackie Chan to lesser-known stunt women and men like Zo Bell and Chad Stahelski stun their audiences with virtuosic martial arts displays, physical prowess, and complex fight sequences. Their performance styles originate from action movies that emerged in the industrial environment of 1980s Hong Kong. In Experts in Action Lauren Steimer examines how Hong Kong--influenced cinema aesthetics and stunt techniques have been taken up, imitated, and reinvented in other locations and production contexts in Hollywood, New Zealand, and Thailand. Foregrounding the transnational circulation of Hong Kong--influenced films, television shows, stars, choreographers, and stunt workers, she shows how stunt workers like Chan, Bell, and others combine techniques from martial arts, dance, Peking opera, and the history of movie and television stunting practices to create embodied performances that are both spectacular and, sometimes, rendered invisible. By describing the training, skills, and labor involved in stunt work as well as the location-dependent material conditions and regulations that impact it, Steimer illuminates the expertise of the workers whose labor is indispensable to some of the world's most popular movies.
Lauren Steimer is Associate Professor of Film and Media Studies and Media Arts at the University of South Carolina.