Theatre, Drama & Cinema

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Victims, Perpetrators and Professionals

The Representation of Women in Chinese Crime Films

Tingting Hu is a Research Fellow in School of Journalism and Communication, Wuhan University, China. She received her PhD at Macquarie University, Australia. Her research interest lies in the articulation of film, media and cultural studies with feminist theories, transmedia studies in various socio-cultural contexts. Her recent publications appear in the Journal of Contemporary China, Television & New Media, Continuum, and Feminist Media Studies.

In the Series
Asian Studies

Victims, Perpetrators and Professionals examines the representation of women in relation to violence in Chinese crime films made on the mainland, and in Hong Kong and Taiwan. It introduces a new trajectory in the investigation of the cinematic representation of female figures in relation to gender issues by interweaving Western feminist and postfeminist critiques with traditional Chinese sociocultural discourse.

An in-depth narrative identifies three major representations of women: the female victim, the female perpetrator of violence, and the female professional. Salience to contemporary society shows up in many ways, passive and active, all of which reinforce a sense of male dominance and patriarchal power. Analysis bridges the gap in the field of female representation in Chinese culture/Chinese film studies by systematically examining Chinese crime films as a genre in its own right. The depiction of female victimisation at the hands of men in the selected crime films consolidates the notion of women's vulnerability and inferiority as perceived in Chinese gender discourse. On the other hand, the representation of active female perpetrators of violence, and as professional working women, presents what may be seen as a postfeminist masquerade – a cultural strategy that shows an ostensible impression of female empowerment albeit that it reinforces traditional gender hierarchies in the Chinese gender context. While graphic female victimisation is commonly presented, female perpetrators of violence and females in professional roles in crime films are shown to remain under the control of male authority, leading to the conclusion that Chinese crime films are produced in a context of heavy patriarchal power and misogyny.

Hardback ISBN: 978-1-78976-092-7
Hardback Price: £70.00 / $84.95
Release Date: July 2021
Page Extent / Format: 180 pp. 229 x 152 mm
Illustrated: No


Series Preface by Mina Roces

Author's Preface




Chinese Cinema(s) in Transition

Gender Discourse in China and the Confucian Nei--wai Realms   

Conceptualising Film Violence  

Defining Crime Films    

Film Selection and Methodology           

The Feminist and Postfeminist Theoretical Frameworks 


Chapter 1

 Violence Against Women: The Objectification of Female Victims in Protégé and Port of Call        

The Female Victim in the Chinese Context         

Feminist Film Theories 

'Woman as image'       

'Woman as sign'          

Silent Women in Claustrophobic Spaces: Female Victim as Spectacle      

Male Hero Rescues Female Beauty: Female Victim as Sign         

Intimate Partner Violence: Highlighting Female Compliance       


Chapter 2

The Fake 'Femme Fatale': Passive Perpetrators in The Stool Pigeon and Black Coal, Thin Ice         

'Woman as Subject'     

Vivid Victimisation and Abbreviated Violence    

The Irrational Female and the Heroic Male        



Chapter 3

Powerful or Powerless: Active Perpetrators in Accident and The Bold, the Corrupt and the Beautiful         

The Woman Warrior in the Chinese Context      

Postfeminist Discourse 

The Postfeminist Masquerade and the Model of Phallic Girl       

Desire and Punishment of the Female Assassin

Dominant Power of the Monstrous Mother


Chapter 4

 Which Position is Proper? Policewomen in Breaking News and Eye in the Sky      

Working women in the Chinese Context

The Policewoman in a 'Proper' Position 

The Rookie's Unstable Emotionality      

The Commander's Potential Victimisation and Pathological Romance     


Chapter 5

 The Rule-Breaker: The Retreating Female Professional in A World Without Thieves and Silent Witness     

Other Representations of Females in Chinese Media     

Retreatism in Postfeminist Culture        

The Retreatist Female Thief      

The Retreatist Female Lawyer   









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