The Grandmaster of Kung Fu Films: Lau Kar-leung

In July of 2018, MoMA, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, programmed a film series dedicated to Lau Kar-leung. This video essay supplements that program by providing a concise introduction to Kung Fu films. Now, there is nothing formally innovative about this video essay. It simply strings together scenes from a large selection of Kung Fu films, is unadorned with graphics, and comes accompanied by a straightforward narration and basic sound mixing. Nevertheless, this video is a breath of fresh air in the ever-expanding ocean of explanatory video essays and channels.


The reasons for that are numerous. There’s the no frills delivery (every line is clear and to the point). The narration is succinctly written (every remark is meaningful). Above all, there is the calm and assured knowledge of its subject that film curator La Frances Hui brings to the table. Too often, video essayists tend to resort to poetic asides or farfetched comparisons in order to hide the limits of their knowledge or of their research. No need for that here: this video essay shines because of its conceptual clarity and knowledgeable precision. Who needs fancy graphics when you have those?