Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Chen style Taijiquan - "A Journey to the Hometown of Martial Arts" - 1979

"Perhaps the earliest documentary released in the PRC promoting Chen style Taijiquan - "A Journey to the Hometown of Martial Arts". Shot in 1979 by Henan TV Station, a few months after Deng Xiaoping had written the famous calligraphy "Taijiquan is good!" for the delegation of Japanese parliament (Nov 1978), it tells the stories of Chen Wangting creating Taijquan, Chen Zhaopi leitai fights and Chen Fake making the family style famous in Beijing.

Apart from Chen stylists such as Chen Xiaowang, Chen Zhenglei, Zhu Tiancai, Wang Xi'an, Chen Lanru, Chen Suying, Chen Chun'ai, experts of other branches are also shown in short demos: Lu Gaoming (Yang style), Ji Liangcheng (Wu Yuxiang), Li Bingci (Wu Quanyou), Sun Jianyun (Sun). And you just can't forget the lovely makeup of Chen Xiaowang playing the role of Chen Zhaopi, his main Taijiquan teacher... Subtitles have been added to the video - which was a very frustrating process - not only the soundtrack is not synchronized with the video, but also because it is not complete. Whenever it was possible the subtitles are synchronized with the voice over, but in some parts I decided to add them where they should actually be - so that the viewer can see the name of the performer when s/he actually appears on the video. I also added some additional information [in the square brackets].

There are some obvious errors in the original narration - early Ming dynasty began 600 years ago, not 300. Chen Lanru (the older lady with halberd) was second in Kaifeng leitai, not first (she lost to her cousin). Taking into consideration that the movie was a pioneering attempt made only three years after the Cultural Revolution, and two years before the groundbreaking "Shaolin Temple" was shot - this time in cooperation with the experienced Hongkong filmmakers - it is still interesting to watch. I apologize for the quality, but this is the only version I was able to find on the internet. I will gladly replace it with a better one, when I find one." by Jarek_Szymanski

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