Question of the Week: Kung Fu Archetypes

All of our favorite genres have their cliches, memes, tropes, and other recurring elements. Unfortunately, the words “cliche,” “meme,” and “trope” make them sound like an infection. What I’m really looking for is archetypes, specifically those found in wuxia novels and kung fu movies. There’s the drunken boxer, the wolf girl, the brave archer, the ardent disciple, the white witch, the one-armed swordsman, the loyal captain, the lady hermit, the master of a deadly strike, the vampire-hunter, the acupuncturist, and so on. I’ve begun a list, but I could use your help.

What kung fu/wuxia archetypes can you think of?


6 thoughts on “Question of the Week: Kung Fu Archetypes

  1. • The villainous white-eyebrow monk (usually based on the historical Shaolin traitor Pai Mei)

    • The dirty beggar (often paired with Drunken Boxing)

    • The evil eunuch

    • The dashing outlaw

    • The evil bandit

    • The constable (usually some sort of investigator)

    I could go on for days, you know… 🙂

  2. The village where everyone is a kung fu expert.
    The cook or butcher who’s a devil with cleavers.
    The iron/gold/steel-handed fighter.

    While we’re at it, what are some of the classic organizations/clans of kung fu movies? Of course there’s Shaolin and Wudang, and of course security agencies and criminal gangs. But how about some of the less-well-known outfits?

  3. Organizations: Beggar clan (secret network among the homeless), Red Flower (Hung Fa — revolutionaries), Emei (clan of Taoist nuns), Hua Shan (Taoist swordsmen — occasionally called the Wizard Sect).

  4. Ok. So does anyone know what the little black patches on the faces of annoying bureaucrats and other footlickers are?

    • If you’re thinking of the little white bandages with a black (herbal) spot on them, they’re medicine patches. If you get injured, you slap one of those on. It’s used for comedic effect sometimes, as in the delightful Dirty Ho, in which one of the heroes has one that grows smaller over time to show his wound is healing.

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