Little has been written about Asian spy films and their relationship with Cold War cultural studies. While their Anglo-American counterparts could be discursively analyzed for the way they portrayed Western anxieties about communism, constructed own identities as opposed to the alterity of Russians and communists, these films defy easy categorization because they not only reproduced these cinematic tropes but also weaved in politics, themes, and conventions outside the mainstream Cold War narrative. In this article, I examine four spy/cop action films made by Filipino director, Bobby Suarez, and explore how a global cinematic circularity shapes the creative and industrial aspects of Asian spy films. While Suarez made these films explicitly for a Western/regional audience, they also imported cinematic styles like blaxploitation and the Hong Kong kung fu genre, while also adopting Asian culturalist positions that redrew conflict positions from that of capitalism versus communism to that of Asians versus Westerners. The two categories of transnationalism and sexuality are queried, and they demonstrate the pastiche and ambivalence inherent in the films, confronting Western notions of the Cold War with their local/regional anxieties of modernization, self-identity, and Western encroachment.
Traveling Spies and Liminal Texts: Cold War Culture in Asian Spy Films
LEONG YEW IS AN ASSISTANT PROFESSOR IN THE UNIVERSITY SCHOLARS PROGRAMME IN THE NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF SINGAPORE. HE IS THE AUTHOR OF THE DISJUNCTIVE EMPIRE OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS (ASHGATE, 2003) AND EDITOR OF ALTERITIES IN ASIA: REFLECTIONS OF IDENTITY AND REGIONALISM (ROUTLEDGE, 2010).