Course:ASIA321/2022/Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia

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Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia: A Legend Who Has Never Succumbed to a Passing Fad


Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia
Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia

Exaggerated filters and photoshop technology that are frequently used to completely change how one looks, as well as everyone with the same internet celebrity faces, have become visually weary and callous in recent years.[1] Having said that, we are frequently reminded of the splendors of Hong Kong and Taiwanese cinema from the previous century. The classic memory slaughtered in the golden years, the beauty with thick brows, wearing a wide-shouldered coat, carrying a Cartier Box hard leather bag, walking gracefully and unrestrainedly.[1]

Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia was a superstar in every sense of the word. Lin was born in 1954 on November 3rd.[2] She was born in Taiwan and rose to prominence during the golden age of Hong Kong cinema, and her fame spread across the continent over the course of her three-decade career.[3] Lin, a versatile performer with an uncanny ability to adapt to the times and genre, had a film career that ranged from Taiwanese romantic dramas of the 1970s, of which she made a startling 55 between 1972 and 1979, to Hong Kong box-office fare of the 1980s, and finally to the pioneering gender-transcending roles in the now-classic wuxia films of the early 1990s that brought her global acclaim.[3] Lin has accomplished everything.

The encyclopedia will discuss how Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia's early roles in martial arts and romantic genre films influenced her later roles and interpretation style in various films. We will look at the connections between Lin's romantic films and the social and economic turmoil, politics, and changes in Taiwan in the 1970s. We aimed to cover Brigitte Lin's transition to martial arts genre roles in infinite films, as well as how the gender-bending shift brought about by social and political changes is reflected in women's rights.


File:Brigitte Lin.jpg
High school photo of Lin

Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia was known as Southeast Asia's most beautiful woman, and she appeared in over a hundred films.[2] She is capable of acting in a variety of roles, including that of a gentle schoolgirl and an arrogant male character.[2] She is a legend who has never succumbed to a passing fad.

Lin graduated high school at the age of 17 and was discovered by a talent agent while walking down XiMenDing (西门町).[4] This young lady had no idea she would grow up to be a major figure in Chinese cinema history.  She had only worked in the film industry after graduating from high school and had never ventured out into society.[3] She had already entered a very complicated industry before she realized what was going on.[3] Lin was 17 at the time, and she didn't know or understand anything, and the film industry was full of people from all walks of life.[3] Not only that, but she had to respond to how the public perceived her, how the media reported on her, and every word she said was then printed in black and white. As a result, Lin had to be extremely cautious.[3] It was a lot of pressure for a teen girl.

Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia grew up in the film industry. The only thing she knew was that she wanted to play different roles and characters in films, and she didn't even have enough time to sleep. In one of her interviews, she stated that "I didn't get a single good night's sleep from 1972 to 1979. My entire life had been planned and orchestrated by producers; I didn't even know how to think for myself. So my life had been defined by my roles, and at the time, all of my roles were romantic heroines in love stories."[3] Lin was adamant that she had to leave the film industry after seven years and 55 films.[3] She was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. So she moved to the United States in 1979 for a year and a half to study and relax.[3] Despite the fact that The Swordsman II became a cinematic icon, it was released very close to Lin's retirement. Lin was at a point in her life when she felt she couldn't go on. She willingly left it all behind. She had always known in her heart that she would change her life completely once she turned 40.[3] Fate arranged for her to marry at the age of 40.[3] She was relieved she didn't have to face the camera again. As a result, she found it very easy to settle into her retirement.[3] But she still enjoys watching movies.[3] “When I see a good film, I feel compelled to act; when I see a very bad film and performance, I feel compelled to act as well, because I believe I would have done things differently.”[3] Lin only began to reflect on her life after moving to the United States. She had previously been a very passive person; however, after returning from the United States, she decided she needed to be more active — to be actively kind to others, to greet people, and to smile.[3] Because she previously did not have the opportunity to be active.

Life roles

Wedding photo
Wedding photo of Lin and Xing

Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia is the mother of three daughters.[5] Zhang Tianai was the mother of the eldest daughter, Xing Jiaqian. While the other two daughters, Xing Ailin and Xing Yanai, were given birth by Lin and Xing Liyuan.[5] Brigitte Lin met wealthy businessman Xing Liyuan at a banquet in 1993.[5] They fell in love quickly and married in San Francisco in 1994.[5] Many believed that the names of these two daughters are all derived from Xing Liyuan, which expresses his love for his wife.[5] Lin also treats Xing Liyuan and his ex-wife's daughter Xing Jiaqian to be her own children, and their relationship is very harmonious. Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia left the entertainment industry in 1994 to start a normal family life.[4] She met the man who gave her love and a family.

Inside the Window Outside the Window
Inside the Window Outside the Window

Lin's first book, "Inside the Window and Outside the Window" (窗里窗外), was released in July 2011.[6] Brigitte Lin, 56, has made a comeback as a writer after a 17-year absence from the film industry. Brigitte Lin's creative inspiration has grown stronger as a result of years of reading and nourishment. The people and things around her have become the protagonists of her easy and smooth writing. Lin's writing is vivid and true, as evidenced by her prose.[6] Brigitte Lin's prose works are divided into six chapters in "Inside the Window and Outside the Window".[6] The book is sincere and smooth, and you can feel Lin's sincerity and warmth, as well as her true feelings, through it.[6] She is still the big star Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia we know in her prose works, and she is willing to share her friendship in the film circle so that she can get acquainted with her.[6] We can see her work scenes, her passion for film, and her hard work for it from her words; but we can also see from her words that she is a mother, a daughter, a good friend, a lovely beautiful and serious woman.[6] Ordinary problems and confusions, expectations and hopes are written down.[6] This book begins with Brigitte Lin's first film, Outside the Window (窗外) and gradually leads readers to her life.[6] Lin stated that when she was 30 years old, she went to Hong Kong alone to film and stayed for ten years.[7] However, at the age of 60, she has seen the ups and downs of life, as well as life and death, and has accepted the inevitable process of life, and her mood has gradually improved.[7] As a gift to herself, she published her second book, "Clouds Going to Clouds" (云来云去), Lin's third prose work is "Before and Behind the Mirror" (镜前镜后).[7][8] She continued to talk about what she had experienced and the people she knew after "Inside the Window and Outside the Window" and "Clouds Going to Clouds". There are a few "words from friends" at the end of the book, who knew each other at different times and witnessed Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia's growth.[7]

Screen roles

Outside the Window
This is the poster of Outside the Window.

Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia began her career in the film industry as the female lead in a number of romantic films.[4] Lin, along with Taiwan's most famous writer Qiong Yao, won the hearts of everyone during the 1970s.[4] Outside the Window (窗外), one of the most nostalgic films for Chinese-speaking audiences was Lin's acting debut.[4] Lin portrayed a young student who falls in love with her teacher in this film.[9] This was also a true story based on Qiong Yao's life. Lin was also first recognized by Chinese fans and influential directors as a result of this film.[3] Although it was not permitted to be released in Taiwan due to copyright issues, it was a huge success in Hong Kong.[3]

Lin transitioned to martial arts-style action films based in Hong Kong after many years as the romantic female lead in many films and TV shows.[4] Lin was particularly well-known for her androgynous roles, and she was equally stunning as both a man and a woman.[10] In 1994, she co-starred in the film Red Dust (红尘滚滚) with her longtime lover Chin Han. Ching Hsia won Best Actress at the 27th Golden Horse Awards for her performance in this film.[4] However, Lin did a stage play in 1991, The Peach Blossom Land (暗恋桃花源), which was adapted into a film in 1992, before taking on her biggest role in the martial arts genre, Dongfang Bubai in The Swordsman II (笑傲江湖2: 东方不败).[3] She learned some acting techniques from being in the play, which helped her acting become more mature.[3] Previously, she had only learned as she went along. She'd been in the film industry for a while by the time she appeared in the play, and she'd had more life experiences.[3] She had a lot of emotions she wanted to express, which she was able to do through the character of Dongfang Bubai.[3] Dongfang Bubai, as we all know, is a character from Jin Yong's "Swordsman."[11] The original book spent the majority of the book laying the groundwork for his high-level martial arts and ghost tricks, but it only took a short chapter to make him flee the stage.[11] Dongfang Bubai should be over 40 or 50 years old, according to the novel, and Jin Yong's rather grotesque diction exaggerates, making Dongfang Bubai, dressed strangely, and become a pervert of neither male nor female.[11] And when Lin decided to act, it created quite a stir. Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia, according to Jin Yong, was too beautiful to be suitable.[11] The plot of Dongfang Bubai was altered in this film, and the dubbing was a male voice when he appeared. Dongfang Bubai's female characteristics have become more apparent since his castration.[11] To reflect his involvement with Japanese pirates, the costume designer Zhang Shuping specifically incorporated Japanese national characteristics into Lin's costumes, particularly the hat.[11] Because the character was so fearless, she was able to let go of all her inhibitions and embrace her wild side. Brigitte Lin was nominated for the Best Actress award at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 1992 for her role in The Swordsman II (笑傲江湖2: 东方不败).[3]

The Dream of the Red Chamber
Lin as Jia Baoyu in The Dream of the Red Chamber.

Many actresses have played gender-bending roles in adaptations of classic Chinese literature, but none have done so with the grace, fluidity, and respect that Lin has shown.[10] Lin brought gravity, thoughtful ambiguity, and diffuse but distinct sexuality to her challenging performances, which have yet to be topped since her retirement in 1994, whether as Dongfang Bubai in The Swordsman II  (笑傲江湖2: 东方不败), revolutionary Tsao Wan in Peking Opera Blues (刀马旦), or twins Yin and Yang in Ashes of Time (东邪西毒). Lin's ancestors are from Shandong, China, and they are known to be forthright and direct. And she believed she had the ability to play male characters.[10] The first was Jia Baoyu (贾宝玉), an underage adolescent boy with a hazy sense of masculinity.[10] In The Swordsman II, she had to appear very masculine.[3] Lin once stated in an interview, "I remember trying on the first day of filming, but the director thought there was something missing and it didn't look right."[3] She eventually realized that because men have stiffer necks, their necks don't move as much.[3] So she investigated this characteristic in order to make my portrayal appear more masculine.

In addition to all of the roles she has played on screen, she has also appeared on the reality show "Idols Are Coming" in 2015. "Idols Are Coming" is a reality show in which ten female stars of various ages from the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s come together to experience the life of specific groups of people.[12] It's the natural appearance of idols when they return to their original aspirations and test their own boundaries.[12] It was once considered a "impossible task" to pull a 60-ton plane using only manpower, but the idol group did it.[12] "We stayed on Hainan Island for two days. We formed a WeChat group chat with 12 other people. It was a very lively atmosphere. I adore them and will always consider them to be my best friends. 'Idols Are Coming' has given me and everyone a lot of wonderful memories, which I will treasure."[13] Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia, a "leader" in her sixties, also took the lead in setting an example for the younger generation.[12]

Substantive analysis of the celebrity's profession

This is the most famous image of dongfang bubai, and most people want to watch this movie because of this scene.

The Swordsman II  (笑傲江湖2: 东方不败) Brigitte Lin's classic work. When people mention Dongfang bubai(东方不败), they will think of her. However, this role was very different from her other movies. Among the three movie roles that Lin has acted in were male characters, one was Dongfang Bubai in the Swordsman, Murong Yan in Ashes of Time, and Jia Baoyu in Dream of Red Chamber.[3] Dongfang bubai is a man who gave up male gender in order to practice "Kuihua Baodian"(葵花宝典), and finally his voice completely turned into a female voice. Lin not only shows the domineering power of men, but also the beauty of women in the film. She thinks she has some masculine features in her life because she doesn't know what shyness is.[3] Lin explained that it is because her ancestral home is from Shandong, where people are straightforward. Dongfang bubai and Jia Baoyu are both male characters, but Jia is a teenage boy. She doesn't need to show much masculinity in the movie.[10] However, as a character with the strongest martial arts in the world, Dongfang Bubai needs to show the strength of men and be more masculine.[10] Therefore, she observed that men's necks do not move as much as women's. In the end, Brigitte Lin deduced a classic image through this feature.

The celebrity’s contribution to their professional field (cinema, film culture, and beyond):

Lin Qingxia's handprint on the Hong Kong Walk of Fame

Lin Qingxia's first award came at the 1976 Asia Pacific Film Festival for the Best Actress at the 22nd Asia Pacific Film Festival. She won the award for her role as Girl Soldier Yang Huimin in the Taiwanese war film Eight Hundred Strong Soldiers (1976). Subsequently, Lin Qingxia was nominated for Best Actress at the 17th Golden Horse Awards in 1980 and the 19th Golden Horse Awards in 1982 via the film Yellow Flowers (1980) and Hero vs Hero (1982) respectively. Likewise, through her role in the movie Red Dust, Shen Shaohua, won the Best Actress award at the 27th Golden Horse Awards in 1990. Lin Qingxia was also nominated for Best Actress at the 3rd in 1984, the 5th in 1986, and the 12th Hong Kong Film Awards in 1993 via films Warriors from the Magic Mountain (1983), Police Story (1985), The Legend of the Swordsman (1992), and Handsome Siblings (1992) respectively.

Lin Qingxia's contribution to Asian film culture and industry comes mainly from her participation in martial arts films and the transgender martial arts roles she has provided. In the movie fan community, people's impression of Lin mostly comes from the image of Invincible East. In fact, this role became a breakthrough in East Asian film culture and created an Asian male power female figure that is representative from an international point of view.[14]

Lin Qingxia played the role of Xu Liping in the movie Love Long Run (1975).

Lin Qingxia's transgender role-playing was laid as early as in her romantic literary films period. In the film Love Runs Long (1975), Lin played a manly girl. Many scholars, including (Lin, 2010), (Williams, 2008), have argued that this was a backlash against society's lack of attention to women's rights in the 1970s.[15] But based on this film's popularity and impact, Lin's role as a manly girl did not have a sizeable impact on film culture or society. Likewise, the role played by Lin in this film still has obvious female gender characteristics, not absolute transgender. As such, the role is too implicit in supporting women's power. However, in the movie Swordsman II (1992), Lin played the role of Invincible East, who sacrificed part of his/her manhood in order to get the most powerful kung fu power. In the movie, Invincible East is castrated, completing a true sense of transgender. Invincible East became more feminine after his/her castration, including her voice and looks. Invincible East's kung fu and martial arts moves are also masculine. However, these elements of strength are expressed from a female appearance. Lin's role in this film is groundbreaking for traditional Chinese drama and martial arts films. In traditional Chinese theater, we often see men acting like women. The male performer is dressed in a female costume and sings or speaks in a female "operatic" voice. According to cultural researcher Alisa Solomon's distinction, "male cross-dressing tends to be an imitation of gender, while female cross-dressing tends to perform gender"[14]. In traditional theater, a male performer imitates femininity by changing his appearance and voice, and becomes a complete woman on stage. But from Invincible East played by Lin Qingxia, she performs a strong, masculine character in a female appearance, rather than a fully female or male. Such an unqualified gender setting is a forerunner of Genderqueer culture. At the same time, such strong female figures were one of the landings of the third feminist movement in Asia, opposing the stereotypes of Chinese society to women as weak, child carers, housewives, and the lack of attention to women's rights.[14] Although Swordsman II (1992) is a Hong Kong film, the image of Invincible East is widely known in the entire Asian society. Likewise, Swordsman II (1992) has been translated into more than a dozen languages. Lin's groundbreaking role became a pioneer for Asian transgender and male power female character, and represents an Asian transgender, a male-powered female character from an international point of view.[15]

Key societal, economic, political, moral, and historical forces that influenced the celebrity’s career:

Chiang Ching-Kuo's picture after taking the position.

Lin Qingxia's interpretation of Taiwan's social change, political change, and economic development is mainly found in her tragic romantic and literary films. Lin Qingxia's career began in Taiwan in the 1970s. Both economically, politically, and socially, Taiwan was facing recession, oppression, and turmoil during that period. In the 1970s, the world experienced two oil crises back-to-back. These two oil crises hit Taiwan's economy hard and led Taiwan into an economic recession. In order to solve the recession, with the launch of the Ten Major Construction Projects by the ROC government, Taiwan gradually emerged from the oil crisis and made progress in industrial production; the economy began to expand. High-speed development has made Taiwan one of the Four Dragons of Asia and an industrialized and commercialized region. However, because of the inflation, increases in price, wage cost, and environmental cost brought by the economic expansion, Taiwan's economy is again in trouble.[16] In 1975, the President of the Republic of China, Chiang Chung-Ching, died and his son Chiang Ching-Kuo inherited the leadership of the Kuomintang. Chiang Ching-Kuo steered Taiwan toward rapid economic development and commercialization in order to back up the problems that led by rapid economic development by expanding capacity. The High-speed economic expansion has brought anxiety and oppression to Taiwan society .[17]

In the 1970s, provincialism had become the greatest social and cultural conflict in Taiwanese society. Taiwan's socio-demographic structure is divided into Minnan, outsiders, locals, and Hakka. Taiwan's social structure is equally complex, including the peasant class, the hoboes, and the gentry class. Taiwan's social structure is often divided into different social groups based on class, religion, and bloodline. Among social groups, conflicts, fights, and forces are deeply entrenched. Such provincial and ethnic conflicts came to a climax after the Anti-Japanese War. During War, most of the outsiders followed the Kuomintang army to participate in the war. Influenced by the territorial consciousness of the war, this part of the population had a strong sense of ethnicity. However, locals experienced 50 years of Japanese colonial rule. Although this segment of the population did not shift their religious beliefs and folklore as a result of colonization, they were still influenced by Japanese education, the imperialization movement, and culture. The cultural and ideological differences between outsiders and locals caused by the war became the trigger for the provincial conflicts in Taiwan society after the restoration of Taiwan in 1945.[18]

After the 1970s, Chiang Ching-Kuo became aware of the danger to society resulting from provincial conflicts and thus began to promote the localization of Taiwan. [17] However, in my opinion, this does not really solve the provincial conflict but pushes it to the political level. In later years, many politicians provincial conflicts. In later years, many politicians, as a means of power struggle, took sides in provincial conflicts. This also led to the emergence of two groups in postwar Taiwanese society. They are those who exclude outsiders and attempted to become independent and those who opposed Taiwanization and considered it de-Chinese. Conflicts continue to persist later in a lasting and deep-rooted way.

In Taiwan in the early 1970s, gender inequality was a social problem that could not be ignored. Mrs. Chiang Ching-kuo's conservative view of women led to the confinement of women's social roles to submissive wives, dutiful daughters, and housewives during that period. Society was equally unaware of women's rights. The feminist movement had fought hard for years in Taiwan.[15]

Lin Qingxia played the role of Jiang Yanrong in the movie Outside the Window (1973).

Taiwan in the 1970s was a time of struggle and unrest. This period is referred to as "Unhappy Taiwan" by Tony Williams[17]. Looking at the films in which Lin Qingxia appeared during this period, the themes of these films are mostly related to social pressure, love, dreams, gender inequality, and futility. The first film work in which Lin Qingxia acted was Outside the Window (1973), adapted from Qiong Yao's novel of the same name. It is a work that takes the individual as the starting point but reflects the macro society. It tells the story of the destruction of pure love by social pressure and the collapse of youthful dreams. If aiming at Jiang Yanrong played by Lin Qingxia in the movie and her love story, it can be found how the film switches between illusion and reality. In the film, Jiang Yanrong is an artistic young girl who is pretty, emotionally rich, tenacious, and good at studying. She falls in love with her senior teacher and begins a forbidden love affair. This forbidden love yet not with worldliness. High school teacher Kannan is attracted to her literature work. This is a literary, special love without worldliness and social views. In Taiwan under the conflict and pressure of the 1970s, the anti-mundane, carefree and simple love in this work is what people are looking for. People expect a youthful love that can be free from social pressure and perspectives. Williams[17] refers to this work as a “romantic escapism”. However, what makes this movie representative is not simply the illusory escapism, but the resonance of reality. In the movie, the forbidden love between the protagonist and the teacher does not go well but is met with social and worldly pressure and opposition. Jiang Yanrong and the teacher are a few 20 years apart in age so they were gossiped about within the school. The teacher was eventually fired from the school, and Jiang Yanrong thought she had harmed the teacher‘s career, so she took poison and committed suicide. Although Jiang Yanrong did not die in the end, she still did not get to be with her teacher. Jiang's mother finds Jiang Yanrong and her teacher meeting secretly and calls the police. The teacher is arrested for seducing a young girl and is forced to leave Taipei to teach in a rural school. Jiang Yanrong was eventually arranged by her parents to marry Jiang's father's student, Li Liwei. The love between the protagonist and his teacher, despite being a romantic escape that people yearn for at the beginning, is ended by social and mundane pressures. The two elements of the film provide an opportunity to escape from the high-pressure conflict of the 1970s, and through the hardness of this forbidden love, it reflects the pressure of the micro-society on the individual in this era. Although the film was not eventually released in Taiwan, but in Hong Kong, the film's filming, location, and background are completely of Taiwan. In this film, Lin Qingxia, despite being a new actress, succeeds in playing a character who transforms from a young, stubborn, artistic, and expectant girl to a newlywed woman who accepts the disappointment of reality and worldly pressures. She succeeds in acting the transformation of an escapist fantasy into reality; showing escape and resistance to the pressure of society on individuals at the beginning, and highlighting acceptance of society’s pressure at the end.

Such a style has been maintained in Lin Wingxia’s acting in other Qiong Yao romantic literary films and films of the same stage. In the movie Gone with the Cloud (1976), Lin Qingxia played the role of a young girl of 19, Duan Wanlu. Duan Wanlu dates a rich boy but is eventually rejected by the boy's father because of Wanlu's status. This film, despite its happy ending, highlights the dysfunctional social structure resulting from the economic and social changes in Taiwan. The film was shot in Taiwan and was released in Taiwan with great success. In the film Love Runs Long (1975), Lin Qingxia made her debut in a bi-gender role as an athletic boy-girl uninterested in traditional marriage and gender role-play. In these films, Lin Qingxia's characters all start with escapism love, youth, anti-mundane, and social escapism, but receive social and mundane oppression and pressures in the process or at the end. These social pressures and oppression include gender, marriage, worldly stereotypes, and living cost. The films in which Lin Qingxia acted all reflected the pressures and conflicts of society while escaping from it.

In fact, it is not a coincidence that the films and roles played by Lin Qingxia have so many similarities. According to Williams, Lin says that "a lot of opportunities to choose my films because I was approached by a lot of producers" after her success on Gone with the Cloud (1976).[15] Thus, this suggests that it was not that Lin was passively chosen by these film titles, but that Lin's success gave her the opportunity to actively select these films. Lin consciously selected these films that include the themes of escape from illusory love and real social oppression. More than just an accomplished actress, Lin uses Qiong Yao's tragic love stories as a carrier to document, react to, or confront the Taiwanese society full of unease and conflict in the 1970s by playing the role of controversial women under the mundane view of that time. Taiwan in the 1970s was not only full of conflict but also full of change. After the death of Chiang Kai-shek, the authority of the Kuomintang gradually declined, and Taiwanese society was moving towards high-speed commercialization and a neo-liberal society. Lin Qingxia's work during that period was likewise mostly commercial, as evidenced by the success of her films such as "Outside the Window" and Gone with the Cloud. The content of these films, and even these films themselves, are representative of a commercialized society. But under the high pressure brought about by commercialization, these films have an escapist nature. These escapist contents appearances also reveal the changing times, provincialism, demographic dynamics, and the uneasiness that commercialization has brought to society. Lin and the films she starred in were recorders and breakers of social conflict and change in post-1970s Taiwan.

Reception of the celebrity

This image from "Idols are Coming" when she appeared in the show.
When other celebrities saw Lin, they all stood up for her.

Brigitte Lin is currently retired from filming and can be said to have a very high status in the entertainment industry. This can be seen from the mainland variety show 'Idol Comes' in 2015.[19] Inviting Lin to this variety show was arguably the focus of the show and the way to get the highest attention. When Lin appeared on the show, other actresses such as Zixia Fairy (紫霞仙子) Zhu Yin and several other actors stood up to welcome her. In her own statement, Lin added that when she opened the door, she heard the other guests screaming.[20] Sources say that the first episode of the show has been completely turned into a fan meeting for Lin. All the guests present stood up to shake hands with her. This shows that her popularity is extremely perfect. When Brigitte turned 64 internationally, she received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Far East Film Festival in Italy. This film festival is held in the small town of Udine in northeastern Italy and has been held for 23 years since 1999.[21] After Feng Xiaogang, Louis Koo and Jackie Chan, Brigitte Lin is the second celebrity to receive an award from the Udine Far East Film Festival.[22] Lin's career success is obvious to all, but her relationships are of even greater interest to society. She was discovered by talent scouts because of her good looks.[23] She met the actor Qin Han when she appeared in the film “Outside of the Window", but Qin was already married at the time. To prove her innocence, Lin went to the United States to study, during which time the famous Taiwanese actor Qin Xianglin proposed to her[23]. 4 years later Hanlin and Lin broke off their engagement.[23] Qin Han and Lin then stayed together for 10 years but unfortunately did not marry (Qinhan divorced Shao in 1982).[23] At the age of 38, Lin met her current husband, Xing Liyuan, at a party. [23]

Literature review

Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia: Last Eastern Star of the Late Twentieth Century” (Williams, 2008)

Tony Williams' article “Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia: Last Eastern Star of the Late Twentieth Century” aims to investigate Brigitte Lin's star status using the concepts pioneered by Richard Dyer in his “Stars and Heavenly Bodies monographs.”[24] Brigitte Lin is best known for playing Dongfang Bubai in the final two installments of Tsui Hark's Swordsman trilogy, which was released in 1992.[24] His gender-bending associations drew the attention of western audiences, particularly in terms of gay reception, which gay director Stanley Kwan explored in Yang and Yin: Gender in Chinese Cinema, a 1996 documentary on Hong Kong cinema.[24] Lin's celebrity, however, is far more nuanced than these gender-bending roles suggest. For this study, Williams want to expand on Akiko Tetsuya's insightful study, by focusing on the diverse nature of the films Lin made over her twenty-year career. Despite her distinct 'DongfangBubai' star status, it arose as a result of a variety of film performances, some of which foreshadowed what would later emerge in Hong Kong cinema.[24] Taiwan was less democratic during the early stages of her star persona's development than it is now. Taiwanese films from this era appear to reflect a localized ideological version of a status quo that refuses to examine explicitly the historical and political contradictions that powerfully reshaped Taiwan since the mid-twentieth century.[24] Lin was a major star in Outside the Window as high school student Chiang Yen-yung, who falls in love with her teacher K'ang Nang (Hu Chi), who is twenty years her senior.[24] The film is actually a sensitive and deeply moving elegy on the destruction of innocent love by collective social pressure and the futility of adolescent dreams.[24] Despite its focus on individual tragedies, contains insightful images of an affluent but dysfunctional Taipei family and an oppressive school system.[24] Lin's second leading role in Gone with the Cloud (Liu Chia Chang, 1974) was a success in Taiwan and throughout South East Asia.[24] This film also introduced a social dimension to the romance narrative that would dominate her subsequent Taiwan films.[24] A 19-year-old high school graduate who is dating the son of a wealthy man, who is also dating her older sister.[24] Because of Lin's poor background and her sister's previous job as a nightclub hostess, the father refuses to allow his son to marry her.[24] Despite the film's obligatory happy ending, Gone with the Cloud reveals the presence of disturbing social tensions within Taiwanese society.[24] Lin's version of Love Story (Arthur Hiller, 1970) with the genders reversed is Pai Ching-Forever Jui's My Love (1976).[24] The film employs the distancing devices of melodrama and romance to expose unwholesome class issues in contemporary Taiwanese society.[24] Due to space constraints, an examination of Lin's other Taiwanese films is not possible. Overall, many of her romantic roles during this era appear to be subversive works rather than escapist fluff.

More than escapist romantic fantasies: Revisiting Qiong Yao films of the 1970s (Lin, 2010)

In Wenchi Lin's [25] article, Lin uses the 1970s Qiong Yao films in which Lin Qingxia acted as a starting point to discuss the social factors in these films beyond escapism natures. In the article, the author states that Taiwan in the 1970s was a time of political and social turmoil and economic changes. In the midst of the uneasiness, youthfulness, and the illusion of anti-worldliness in the romantic movies based on Qiong Yao's novels became a means of escape from reality. The author then argues that although these films are full of escapism, that is not all that these films are about.[25] The author begins by mentioning that many scholars, including Lin Qingxia herself, believe that the early Lin Qingxia’s Qiong Yao romance films did not touch social reality and at most included escapism. But in the author's study, he states that most of Qiong Yao's novels are tragic in nature. In the movies Lin acted in and in Lin's interpretation, most of these tragedies originate from the disasters that society brings to the individuals. Because these films are set in the turbulent 1970s of Taiwan, most of the social factors covered by these come from commercialization, provincial conflicts, the reconfiguration of social classes, and the political changes brought about by the death of Chiang Kai-shek.[25] To support his view, he analyzes the underlying social factors in several Qiong Yao romance movies that Lin Qingxia acted in. For exmaple, In the film The Autumn Love Song (1976), the characterization of the female protagonist, played by Lin Qingxia, is a beautiful girl of the working class. She falls in love with an upper-class boy. In the author's view, this is not just a fantasy-filled cross-class romantic love, but a response to the climbing and intersecting of social classes.[25]

Brigitte Lin: stardom, queering gender and iconicity (Balmain's 2018)

In Colette Balmain's[26] article, the author uses Lin's transgender role-playing in Swordsman II (1991) as a starting point to connect it to genderqueer culture and link women with masculine power roles in martial arts movies to today's feminists. In the article, the author zooms in on the castration of Lin Qingxia's role as Invincible East in the movie. The author mentions that after the castration of the Invincible East, she becomes more feminine. However, his/her posture and behavior still remain male. The author then argues that in the movie, Invincible East does not become a full woman or a full male after castration, but a genderqueer or gender non-conformist.[26] To support her argument, the author mentions that in the movie, women are constructed as castrated men. In other words, instead of playing or imitating one gender, Lin becomes the indeterminate of the two genders. This is not merely performing a gender, as in the traditional Chinese theater of cross-dressing, but becoming a more subversive gender disqualification, a male-female, or a female-male.[26] The author also argues that this is similar to the liberal gender roles, genderqueer, and unspecified genders in today's society. In the 1990s, when the film was released, stereotypes and traditional values did not allow for such confusion of gender. Therefore, the transgender role played by Lin Qingxia was groundbreaking.[26]

The Book, the Goddess and the Hero: Sexual Politics in the Chinese Martial Arts Film (Reynaud, 2003)

In Bérénice Reynaud's article, she explores transgender roles in martial arts cinema using the changing politic and women's rights of China as a starting point. The author first mentions that after women were banned from performing on stage in China, in 1772, male impersonations of women performing became popular. It was not until the end of the Republican period that women were given more rights, such as the right to education, and the concept of the "new woman" began to be discussed.[27] As women are given more rights, return to the screen and become an integral part of performances, the gender roles that women play in films and shows begin to break with tradition. Reynaud argues that powerful female characters in martial arts movies represent a reshuffling of gender and power.[27] To support her argument, she mentions that in the movie Swordsman II, the role of the Invincible East is no longer a male impersonation of a woman, but rather the woman becomes a blurring gender role between male and female, although there are similarities to traditional cross-dressing performances.[27] The author likewise argues that the appearance of such an ambiguous gender represents the progress of the feminist movement in China. She mentioned that in the past, Chinese women played a weak, passive, and low-profile role. As the changing gender weights and increased female empowerment, in the 1990s martial arts films Swordsman II (1991), the female characters broke through the traditional gender boundaries, symbolizing a new era of women and a new breakthrough in women's power. The author provides that in the movie, Invincible East needs to be castrated and become a more feminine character in order to obtain undefeated kung fu. Femininity is parallel to power. It breaks the gender limitation of women's inherent weakness. The process of changing women's rights and gender roles in  martial arts movies from weak to strong reflects in the change of gender balance in Chinese society.[27]

Wuxia cross-dressing and transgender identity: The roles of Brigitte Lin Ching-hsia from Swordsman II to Ashes of Time (Chan, 2006)

In this essay the author attempts to use performances in martial arts films to explain Lin Qingxia's cross-dressing and whether gender and ambiguity in film have any impact on the social practices of a culture.[28] Lin played an invincible Asian character in Dongfang Bubai (东方不败), but at a time when Hong Kong cinema was in the doldrums. The novel's author, Jin Yong, puts social expectations and fantasies into the film.[28] Chan uses Alisa Solomon's argument in the text to suggest that male impersonation is a parody of gender, but female impersonation tends to perform gender. In addition, Jean Louis suggests that men played women mostly for laughs, as men dressed as women were first seen in vaudeville. example, wearing a female dress.[28] However, women playing men rely more on body language and acting. In order to get the most powerful martial art in the world, Dongfang Bubai becomes a woman from a man. The author, on the other hand, argues that the film is not trying to convey the Asian view of female deformity, but to indicate the idea of martial arts supremacy.

Critical debates

Among scholars, there are two main schools of thought have arisen in the scholarly debate over Lin Qingxia. The vast majority of scholars believe that Lin's role and films are filled with content beyond films themselves. These include reflection and confrontations on Taiwan's turbulent and changing society in the 1970s, the changing economy, politics after Chiang Kai-shek‘s death, and the breakthrough of women's social status and gender roles in Chinese society. The arguments of these scholars are often developed out of the turmoil in Taiwan in the 1970s. They attribute the tragedy in the Qiong Yao-style romance films played by Lin Qingxia as the reflection of the social and mundane oppression of individuals in that era. They also attribute the escapism in Lin's characters to the amplification of social unrest and the oppression of individuals at the period. However, another view is that Lin, her roles, and films she acted in are not relevant to the larger social, political, economic, and gender context. In Leung and Wills' book, East Asian Film Stars (2014)[29], they included Ming-Yeh T. Rawnsley's (2014)[30] article: Stars as Production and Consumption: A Case Study of Brigitte Lin. In the article, the author mentions that Lin Qingxia, despite her great success in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China, is still not as successful an international perspective as her female film contemporaries, such as Maggie Cheung.[30] The author then mentions that Lin's success in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China has nothing to do with the depth and social nature of the roles she has played. Lin's success could not have been achieved without her participation in propaganda war films early in her career. The author mentions that the reason Lin become so popular is that the government invested a lot of money and effort in making propaganda war films and promoting Lin.[30] In the text, the author also quotes from the article More than escapist romantic fantasies: revisiting Qiong Yao films of the 1970s by Lin[25], which was analyzed earlier in this Wiki paper. However, the authors hold the opposite point of view to Lin. Rawnsley states that in literary romantic films, the escapism of Lin's character and the film as a whole became a point of consumption. These escapisms are not exactly an escape from the mundane, but rather a satisfaction from the love content as it is easy to resonate and absorb. In other words, escaping through the entertainment content from those films. The escapist elements of these films don't have any deeper meaning.[30] The author argues that the reason why these love romantic films have similar themes is just a commercial reproduction, not a sociological, political, and economic recorder of that time.[25]

Lin Qingxia's family and marriage.

In my opinion, the different views of these two waves of scholars can be interpreted as a question: did Lin Qingxia record this era, or did this era accomplish Lin Qingxia? In the face of this conflict, we can try to find a balance by relating Lin Qingxia's personal life to the roles she played and her career as an actress. In fact, Lin's personal life has a much more obvious influence on the roles she portrays and the films she chooses to act in. There is no strong evidence to support that Lin acted in these films and performed these roles by taking concerns of social, political, and economic concepts. However, Rawnsley mentioned that Lin Qingxia likes to bring her clothes to movie shooting.[30] Therefore, we have to question whether Lin Qingxia is interpreting the role according to the social factors of Taiwan in the 70s or just interpreting herself? After achieving great success in the role of  Invincible East and reaching the peak of her career, Lin chose to retire. Afterward, Lin remained active in behind-the-scenes work on film shoots and writing books. Lin's retirement is due to her marriage to Xing Liyuan. We can interpret Lin’s retirement as the abandonment of her actress career in front of her life. Thus, Lin's career is largely in the hands of her life. However, the government's support of Lin and the massive consumption of escapist films and characters cannot be separated from the influence of political purposes and social situations. In other words, if the government did not have a propaganda purpose, the government would not have supported Lin. If there was no change and turmoil in Taiwan's society, politics, and economy, people might not have consumed escapism. The success, retirement, and career trajectory of Lin are inseparable from the influence of her personal life. However, the social, political, and economic situation of that era also determined the influence of Lin, including the repercussions of the role she played, and her success or failure. In other words, Lin Qingxia was not influenced by the 70s to play these roles, but rather the situation of the 70s influenced the outcome of Lin Qingxia's films and roles.


Overall, Brigitte Lin's fame spread throughout the continent during her 30 years as an actress. In contrast to Hong Kong actresses of the same period, she was not very famous abroad. She reached the pinnacle of her career as an actress when she finished filming The Swordsman II (笑傲江湖2: 东方不败). When all audiences were expecting more from her, Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia chose to take a break from acting and get married. Her first film, Outside the Window (窗外) was made after she graduated from high school, which left her with no acting experience. In other words, she has been learning throughout her career as an actress. A few years later she acted in the play The Peach Blossom Land (暗恋桃花源). It was this opportunity that turned Lin's acting career around and allowed more directors to discover her potential. During the filming of the play, Lin tried to act more like a man. She discovered that men's necks do not turn as much as women's. This point could show Lin's positive attitude in acting. In addition, the 1970s in Taiwan were a time of social, economic and political turmoil. On the other hand, Lin herself argues that the roles she acted in did not reflect any social factors, but were simply her personal favorites. The result is that Lin did not decide to act because of social factors, but that her films influenced the 1970s. If more information is available, I would like to know more about why Lin is not as well known internationally as her contemporaries, and what led Lin to take a break from film after filming Dongfang Bubai.


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  21. Missing or empty |title= (help)
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UBC Asian Centre, Bell Shrine, Winter 2013.JPG
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