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  • Enter the Jianghu: A Glimpse into John Wick's World

    Mr. Jonathan Wick (a.k.a. John Wick “The Boogeyman” and “Baba Yaga”). A lethal, suave, highly skilled anti-hero assassin, played by one of Hollywood’s most treasured action stars of the 21st century, Keanu Reeves, stars in this year’s highly anticipated neo-noir action thriller, John Wick: Chapter 4. This is the fourth installment of the John Wick series, which includes John Wick (2014), John Wick: Chapter 2 (2017), and John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum (2019). For those who may not be familiar with the character John Wick or who haven’t watched any of the films, the series follow the journey of a professional hitman who’s been forced out of retirement after the death of his beloved wife Helen and furry companion, Daisy the puppy. Although that covers the main plot of the first film, it becomes a driving force throughout the entire series that takes us on a non-stop adventure into a deep criminal underworld of assassins and secret societies, that John must continuously pursue till his death. Governed by one of the most powerful criminal organizations known as “The High Table,” this lays the groundwork for the establishment of the John Wick universe and the character profile of John Wick. But, what does all of this have to do with wuxia? If you’re familiar with the genre or are new to it, secret societies and criminal underworlds play a significant role in shaping the wuxia world as the Jiāng hú (江湖; a.k.a. Rivers and Lakes). It’s considered as an underworld society that’s separate and out of sight from regular mainstream society, consisting of people from different backgrounds and social classes (i.e., criminals, peasants, outlaws, hermits, wandering heroes, scholars, etc.). The John Wick universe can be perceived as a Jianghu world of its own, but with a slightly different lens. In honor of the series’ fourth film release, we’re going to take a glimpse into the world of John Wick and how it adapts its own version of the Jianghu - John Wick style. The Urban Jianghu: The Continental Hotels In John Wick’s world, the Jianghu aspect is shaped as a criminal underworld filled with assassins working for mob families across the globe, secret societies and gangs, secret clubs and assassin hotels acting as sanctuaries. It’s a completely separate world from mainstream society with no links to any external affairs of the world, and has its own rules set in place like the wuxia world’s Jianghu. I like to imagine it as an urban Jianghu because all of these aspects in the film series take place in modern cities and towns like New York City, Rome, Casablanca and Osaka - different than in forests or by rivers and lakes. Urban Jianghus in John Wick can be perceived as “The Continental Hotels” throughout the series. These are assassin hotels where organized crime and criminal activities are recorded by hotel administrators, and are kind of like an assassin headquarters. The one rule that all hotel attendees (and specifically assassins) must follow is that “No business shall be conducted or executed on Continental grounds.” This means assassins are not allowed to fight, murder or carry out contracts on other assassins when present at the hotels. They’re also safe spaces where assassins can rest, exchange money for goods and services and gain some sense of inner peace without having to worry about being attacked out of the blue. All hotels are operated in the criminal underworld and have a network of service professionals, spies posing as homeless people, and adjudicators governed by an extremely powerful and elite council of crime lords called “The High Table.” They’re the ones who possess full control and authority over all criminal related matters that occur around the world and make sure that all members (especially those in the assassin community) obey strict rules and policies enforced by the council. This is so that all criminal operations can be executed and delivered smoothly without having mainstream society and law enforcement get involved with underworld business. Secret Society Leaders Whether one is an assassin or not, everyone has to know the rules that play out in the John Wick world, and if not, you’ll end up having consequences with members you work with OR The High Table (definitely don’t want to end up here!). The High Table’s head leader is “The Elder” (a.k.a. The one who sits “Above the Table”) who exercises the highest level of power over all operatives beneath him (also referred to as those “Under the Table”). The same goes for wuxia in that all members (no matter who they are or where they come from) who frequent or are part of the Jianghu should avoid getting into disputes, fights or creating chaos over different martial arts styles or masters. Wuxia’s Jianghu world may not necessarily operate exactly like a criminal underworld, but there is the potential for corruption and evil deeds coming from the unorthodox/evil martial arts sects to influence the Jianghu’s entire reputation. Innocent people outside of these secret societies would also be at great risk if the Jianghu were to extend itself beyond its boundaries with the disruption of immoral rulers and evildoers. As a martial arts world that’s measured by members and their embodiment of righteousness, loyalty and peace (as found in the code of xiá (侠)), those who deviate from those values will be met with the leader of the Wulin Alliance (武林, meaning Martial Forest: a community of martial artists) called the “Wulin Meng Zhu (武林盟主).” This is usually an alliance formed and controlled by righteous/orthodox sects of the Martial Forest with a leader who gets elected for demonstrating a high degree of righteousness and martial arts mastery. They make sure that peace is maintained in the Jianghu, and that all conduct aligns with the Wulin community’s ethics and values. Vengeance and Honour Think being an assassin in the world of John Wick is all about guns, blood and committing acts of violence for no reason? It seems like that on the outside, but what really lies behind them is vengeance and honor. Wuxia stories are heavily rooted on these themes, and we can see them being demonstrated in characters who embrace the code of xia in the Jianghu. It emphasizes the importance of returning favours back to others who have provided their assistance in times of need (ēn; 恩), or seeking vengeance (chóu; 仇) on the bad guys to bring justice. Being an assassin like John Wick, is actually a lot more than just being a cold-blooded contract killer. It’s about serving and honouring those who you work for and work with in the criminal underworld. If assassins don’t take their commitments seriously or end up breaking the rules, they can be marked as “excommunicado.” In John Wick terms this means that one has been removed from being able to access underworld resources, and has also become an easy target for other assassins. Assassins have the option to help one another in times of need (or when their hit list starts piling up) by using markers. It’s almost like a locket that flips open with a silver plate inside, and acts as a blood oath between two assassins. When assassins need to ask favours from one another, bloody thumbprints must be printed inside of the plate from both parties as an agreement that a favour from one party has been requested to the other, and is expected to be completed and returned in due time. This is one of the ways in which honour is measured in the assassin community by serving as a “repay of debt”, though not honouring the marker is considered as punishable by death. — Well, I must say that these aspects do not cover the entire John Wick universe, but are some prominent elements and themes that can resonate with the Jianghu through a wuxia world perception. Not to mention, there’s a saying in the rivers and lakes that those who have retired from the Jianghu but are returning, are “re-entering the Jianghu" (重出江湖; Chóngchū jiānghú). In this case, we could say that the John Wick film series embraces this component by centering its universe around a retired assassin who re-enters the criminal underworld of secret societies and assassins to seek vengeance for himself and those who want him dead. by C. Hong Immortal Staff

  • Wuxia Puppetry Shows

    Besides being where Shiao Yi started his career as a Wuxia novelist, Taiwan is home to a specific medium that is tied to the Wuxia genre. This medium is an on-going TV series franchise of glove puppetry belonging to the brand known as Pili (which translates to Thunderbolt in Mandarin). These productions involve special effects, wirework, and voiceovers in addition to the complex puppetry designs. Since 1984, this franchise has expanded to feature length movies, co-productions with Japan, and English translations on Cartoon Network and Crunchyroll. With this franchise going on for nearly 40 years and having many different titles, we will focus on the titles that are available with English translations. Legend of the Sacred Stone is a feature-length film from 2000 that is a spinoff of the main series. The plot involves a particular Lord Jian who loses his martial abilities and seeks the sacred stones to regain it. This is the first known Pili production to be officially translated in English, with the Japanese language dub DVD including English subtitles of poor quality. Unfortunately, this version of the film is cut by nearly 30 minutes and the only version available with English subtitles. While there is a Taiwanese DVD with Taiwanese Hokkien audio (the original language), there are no English subtitles on this. The DVDs are now long out of print, however second hand DVDs are still available on eBay. In 2006, Cartoon Network aired the first US-focused export of Pili known as Wulin Warriors. This was critically panned due to heavy storyline alterations, name changes, and characters’ personalities being changed completely (in one case, an originally mute character was suddenly talkative in the new adaption). What was supposed to be a serious story was ruined by a humorous dub and a theme song that did not fit the original tone. Fans of hip-hop music and the English dub of Dragon Ball Z may be amused to discover that the theme song they used is akin to a knock-off of The Wu-Tang Clan’s music, and that Goku’s voice actor (Sean Schemmel) voices one of the characters! But ultimately the series was canceled after two episodes aired, with the remaining completed 11 episodes made available online for free. All 13 episodes are now available on YouTube. In 2016, a co-production between Pili International Multimedia with Japanese companies Nitroplus and Good Smile Company resulted in Thunderbolt Fantasy (an obvious reference to the meaning of Pili). Being a Japanese co-production, this series stood out from previous Pili productions as it was written by Gen Urobuchi (head writer of the 2013 Japanese superhero series Kamen Rider Gaim) and its theme song was performed by T.M. Revolution (singer of the theme songs for 2002’s Mobile Suit Gundam Seed). While the original Pili series is produced in the Taiwanese Hokkien language, this series was produced simultaneously in two separate audio tracks of Taiwanese Hokkien (for the Taiwanese market) and Japanese (for markets outside of Taiwan). This series is available on Crunchyroll for US audiences. The Pili series is a prime example of combining modern filmmaking with traditional glove puppetry set against an ancient backdrop. Despite being relatively unknown in the west, that may change once Pili Fantasy: War of Dragons releases on Netflix in the West. Until then, let us know if you came across any of these aforementioned titles or plan to watch any of these! Wulin Warriors on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcXQreVesSs&list=PL6CJyn713rCdSpTEVdLOwOjYXIpk8pyst Thunderbolt Fantasy on Crunchyroll: https://www.crunchyroll.com/series/GY75KE906/thunderbolt-fantasy If you enjoyed this article, click here to get monthly updates on our top stories. If you want more, join us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Discord! By B. Chansy Immortal Staff

  • Inner Peace in Wuxia

    When the phrase “inner peace” comes to my mind, one of the first things I can imagine is a scene in Kung Fu Panda, where Master Shifu is sitting on the floor with his eyes closed and legs crossed while calmly chanting “inner peace” to himself. Or, I’d visualize an image of the Buddha (also known as Siddhartha Gautama) as a popular depiction of this universal concept. Oftentimes, inner peace has been associated with Zen Buddhism - the practice of self-healing through meditation and stillness. Inner peace can be understood as a mind, body and soul that is free from any worries, desires, and/or anxieties mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. It is a psychological state of being in touch with the present moment (the here and now), through “acceptance, forgiveness, love and compassion.” This can simply mean letting people, places and situations exist as they are without the need for control. As humans, it can be challenging for us to just “let things be,” when we all have goals, ambitions and desires that we want to achieve. However, sometimes we need to re-evaluate our circumstances to see if we’re capable of taking on more responsibilities than we already have in our own hands. Or else, it could all lead to total burn-out! Now, that isn’t to say we shouldn’t continue to push through challenges or step into untapped opportunities for further growth and improvement. But, there needs to be an equal balance between our everyday lives (ex: work, family, society) and our spirituality (ex: mind, body, and soul) so we can live freely and overcome worry, self-doubt or stress. Well, how can we do this? Let’s start by taking a look at how wuxia depicts inner peace, and how we can adapt it in our everyday lives. Stillness in Motion: The Wuxia Way While there are many wuxia stories (ex: Chu Liuxiang, The Wanderer Chronicles, to name a few) that emphasizes chivalrous martial arts heroes and warriors, behind these physical aspects of the wuxia hero lie a certain degree of stillness and serenity. While these heroes are equipped with strong fighting abilities and superpowers that can be used to defeat enemies and those perceived to cause harm to the community, inner peace in wuxia is like tranquility in motion. This is typically demonstrated with martial arts and meditation being used as a form of self-expression, and a method of balancing one’s mind, body, and soul. It also becomes a driving force for deep spiritual development and empowerment for characters in the wuxia world. Martial arts styles and practices are commonly practiced by characters in the wuxia world as a spiritual way of finding inner peace among the chaos they may experience outside of their control. Such martial arts styles are unique in a sense that they can encourage practitioners to focus more on the internal practice of breathing techniques to generate a solid flow of “qi” throughout all parts of the body, while also calming the senses so they feel more relaxed and controlled. These practices demonstrated in wuxia are cultivated in a sanctuary-like setting that is considered “sacred or holy” for worship like a temple, or expressed in open and closed environments (i.e., an open-forest or private training room) where individuals can find their peace and quiet alone. For me, during the summer I like to take a yoga mat outside my backyard and sit somewhere under the shades and practice meditative breathing techniques. It not only makes me feel more relaxed, but it certainly helps ground my energy with nature and the smell of fresh air! Finding Inner Peace in our Everyday Lives Wuxia stories and their attention to themes like inner peace shows us how we can settle down our busy and hectic lives. Although we may not all be martial artists with specialized skills, we can learn to channel the inner peace that can be found within martial arts philosophy and practice through movement of the body, meditation or engaging in self-care / feel-good activities. In today’s world, what inner peace means and where it takes place is going to differ for every person. Although it may sound like a broad and abstract concept, I think each and every one of us has our own ways of defining inner peace and cultivating it differently according to our needs and abilities. Because of our rich personalities and our need for deep emotional connections with other living beings, we can’t always shut ourselves out from the world and neglect social interactions! Inner peace is an experience that can definitely go beyond a person just being by themselves in a quiet room, to a person being surrounded by supportive friends and family members who bring out the best in them. In other words: where do you find yourself most at ease? Who would you also want to share those moments with? Some may find inner peace by surrounding themselves in environments where they need physical activity or the company of people (i.e., the gym, catching up with friends at a restaurant). Others may prefer more closed and private spaces for deeper reflection and introspection like the library or at home. As long as the activity can help detach us from our usual routines and give ourselves time to recharge (alone or with others), we can create a more balanced lifestyle that helps us reflect and appreciate every moment in life each day. What does inner peace mean to you? We'd love to hear more in the comments below this article! C. Hong - shout out on Instagram! Guest Writer/Immortal Fan

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  • Immortal Studios | The Home for Essential Wuxia

    HOME OF ESSENTIAL WUXIA Immortal Studio is dedicated to creating stories in the martial arts fantasy genre known as Wuxia & bringing it to the global pop culture stage. OUR COMICS & MERCH Digital Quick View Assassin G #1 - Digital Price $6.00 Digital Quick View Fa Sheng: Origins #1 - Digital Price $3.00 Digital Quick View The Adept #2 -Digital Price $6.00 Digital Quick View Chronicles of the Immortal Swordsmen #1 - Digital Price $5.00 Digital Quick View The Adept #1 - Digital Price $5.00 New Arrival! Quick View Assassin G #1 - Print - Gene Ha Cover Price $25.00 New Arrival! Quick View Assassin G #1 - Print Price $17.00 New Arrival! Quick View Assassin G #1 - Print - Jim Cheung Cover Price $25.00 New Arrival! Quick View Assassin G #1 - Print - Gian Galang Cover Price $25.00 New Arrival! Quick View Assassin G #1 - Print - Joyce Chin Cover Price $25.00 Helvetica Light is an easy-to-read font, with tall and narrow letters, that works well on almost every site. INSIDE We are bringing this beloved classic genre into the 21st century & introducing it to mainstream audiences by creating an interconnected storyverse of heroes, fantasy action, kung fu & empowerment. Artwork - Immortal Storyverse Artwork - Immortal Storyverse Artwork - Immortal Storyverse Artwork - Immortal Storyverse 1/7 NEWS Apr 26, 2023 Enter the Jianghu: A Glimpse into John Wick's World 446 Mar 15, 2023 Wuxia Puppetry Shows 285 Mar 1, 2023 Inner Peace in Wuxia 253 Feb 23, 2023 Wuxia Adaptions: Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils 158 Jan 25, 2023 Lunar New Year: Chinese Lion Dancing 119 Dec 21, 2022 Wuxia Games: Where Winds Meet 265 Nov 15, 2022 The King's Avatar 224 Nov 9, 2022 Brotherhood in Wuxia 141 1 2 3 4 5 INVEST in Why Investors Invested in Immortal Studios INSIDE IMMORTAL STUDIOS Immortal Studios is inviting you! | Pre-Campaign page is now live on Kickstarter The Adept Co-Creator Q&A: Tasha Huo Drawing The Adept Yishan Li Draws Sasha True Chronicles of the Immortal Swordsmen Kickstarter Campaign Video Chronicles of the Immortal Swordsmen Animated Cover Drawing Immortal Swordsmen Bernard Chang Draws Variant Cover More videos OUR COMMUNITY Our Fans - Read their Reviews Our Squad - Premier Martial Artists Who Support Immortal's Mission Our Events - Fan Engagement Amplifying AAPI Representation in Entertainment & Media Summit - May 26, 2021 Live Reading of The Adept Immortal and Shaolin Masters discuss the Shaolin Temple's Mysticism & Legends

  • Peter Shiao, Founder | Immortal Studios

    Welcome to Immortal: Home of Modern Wuxia Stories for Martial Arts Fantasy Fans What does being a hero mean? PETER SHIAO Founder and CEO Peter is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer, leading Immortal Studios in creating a new story universe to awaken the hero within everyone and defining a new business model centered around direct user engagement. Peter has a decades long career leading innovative entertainment and media ventures between the East and West, and has been active in empowering underserved communities. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Shiao In His Own Words Reading Wuxia novels was my favorite past time growing up. In that ancient and mystical world of martial heroes’ journeys, I discovered a reality that inspired and excited me. Through them I discovered the possibility of greatness and freedom born from self-empowerment and connecting to Spirit. Even now, many years later, those feelings are still with me – in fact, they’ve only grown stronger. We are all living during a challenging time, and the enormity of the tasks and difficulties at hand can feel dispiriting and overwhelming. These are also EXACTLY the backdrop for the emergence of heroes. I believe that stories can be an ignition to help us meet the challenges of our lives with courage and grace – and that Wuxia, and its heroes of all sizes, shapes and colors -- are its vanguard. In re-awakening my own hero to create a modern and elevated home for this timeless genre, we hope to awaken – and unleash – yours too. Here, I also dedicate Immortal to the memory of my father, who awakened my hero.

  • Shiao Yi Library | Immortal Studios

    Shiao Yi is one of the foremost authors in the Wuxia genre. His work is recognized by millions for its impact on Chinese culture and has been adapted into film & television. Shiao Yi is the first Asian author to have a permanent collection at UCLA and he has been inducted into the Contemporary Writer's Museum in Beijing. Shiao Yi en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shiao _Yi Shiao Yi (simplified Chinese: 萧逸 ; traditional Chinese: 蕭逸 ; pinyin: Xiāo Yì; 4 June 1936 – 19 November 2018) was a Chinese American Wuxia ("martial hero") novelist. and screenwriter who is considered one of the greatest of the genre in the modern era. Shiao Yi was also the founder and first chairman of the Chinese Writers' Association of North America.Shiao Yi's Wuxia novels are known for their emphasis on traditional Chinese culture and ethics, the arechetype of the Xia (hero), understanding of Taoist philosophy, exquisite sensitivity of romance and human emotions as well as a wide variety of writing styles. Having written 55 novels and novellas as well as nearly 1,000 essays in the course of his life, Shiao Yi is one of the most successful and prolific Chinese writers to date. He is considered a new school Wuxia novelist and is also one of the pioneers of the modern xianxia ("immortal heroes") sub-genre. Twenty of his works have been adapted for film and hundreds of hours of television, influencing the East Asian cultural spheres and the Chinese diaspora. Shiao Yi is often mentioned alongside Jin Yong in the phrase "Nan Jin Bei Shiao" (Chinese: 南金北蕭 ; lit.: 'Jin of the south and Shiao of the north'), and as one of the Five Tigers of the Taiwanese Wuxia Scene (Chinese: 台灣武俠界五虎上將 ) together with Gu Long, Wolong Sheng, Sima Ling, and Zhuge Qingyun.

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