Monday, April 2, 2018


This is a follow-up to my original post on this subject (HERE). I decided to do a follow-up with more current online resources. This is more of a revision or refining of the initial post. Also my ideas on this have evolved as I've introduced more players to the genre. I may do an expanded break down of some of the films or categories in future posts. 

Because wuxia is a niche genre (at least where I live in the US), I think chances are high you will have players who are not familiar with it, or have limited exposure to a few notable examples. You can definitely show players over the course of a campaign, what the genre entails, but it also helps if you introduce them to online resources, movies, books and shows. 

Also, it is important to understand what your take on the wuxia genre is. Certain kinds of wuxia stories probably appeal to you more than others, and if your campaign reflects this, you will want to steer players toward material that reflects your sensibilities. For this reason I grouped movie recommendations by types. 

I am grouping wuxia by type in this list to make recommendations easier for GMs. Also for GMs, this can be a handy guide for their own inspiration. This is far from comprehensive. There are many classic films like Come Drink With Me or Temple of the Red Lotus that I didn't have categories for. It is mostly films I really enjoy (or in some instances, films that seemed essential to the category). This kind of list is incredibly subjective and many movies can easily fit into more than one category. 

Reign of Assassins
In my first post I offered a selection of movies worth showing to your players. I think that list is solid, but others have been released since that time. I also decided to compile a list of new movies based on the kind of wuxia they represent. If I repeat anything from my first list, it will be marked with an asterisk. 

Brotherhood of Blades
Dragon (Wu Xia)
Flying Swords of Dragon Gate
Reign of Assassins
Sword Master

These are the more cerebral type of wuxia film. Most on the list I highly recommend. Personally I have to admit, I did not enjoy The Assassin (2015), so I can't personally recommend it. However I recognize a lot of people like the movie, and it definitely belongs in this category. Since I am assuming most reading this have seen Crouching Tiger, my biggest recommendation here is Ashes of Time (which is really unusual) and A Touch of Zen (which is admittedly slowly paced, but a very important wuxia movie). 

Ashes of Time 
The Assassin (2015)**
Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon
Curse of the Golden Flower 
Legend of the Black Scorpion 
A Touch of Zen

Wuxia varies greatly depending on the decade and the production company. In the early 80s there were a number of wuxia films that took things in wild and fantastic directions. I think these are particularly suited to GMs and groups aiming for a more gonzo style. Here is a brief list of prime gonzo wuxia:
Holy Flame of the Martial World 

Bastard Swordsman 
Blood Parrot 
Buddha Palm
Deadful Melody 
Duel to the Death
The Enchantress 
Holy Weapon 
Holy Flame of the Martial World
Jade Dagger Ninja 
Legendary Weapons of China
Swordsman III
Web of Death
The Weird Man 

I would less enthusiastically point to The Battle Wizard and The Journey of the Doomed as other films in this category. 

These are movies that get into myth, legend and other genres like xianxia. Some overlap with gonzo, but most of these are movies that many would regard as not belonging strictly to the wuxia genre. For example, A Chinese Odyssey is a retelling of the classic novel, Journey to the West. Strictly speaking, many of these are not wuxia movies, but they are easy material to incorporate into a wuxia campaign if you have supernatural elements. 

A Chinese Ghost Story
Painted Skin: Resurrection

A Chinese Odyssey
Journey to the West: Conquering the Demons
Legend of the Mountain 
Painted Skin and Painted Skin Resurrection*
Sorcerer and the White Snake* 
The Thousand Faces of Dunjia 
Zu Warriors from the Magic Mountain 

This is wuxia that features darker characters and themes. I also fold wuxia with mystery elements here. A film like Duel for Gold is dark because the characters are all pretty much bad people, whereas a movie like Magic Blade features dark and eccentric characters like Devil Grandma. 
Bat without Wings

Bat without Wings  The Blade 
Broken Oath 
Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame 
Duel for Gold 
Finger of Doom 
Human Lanterns 
Killer Constable 
Killer Clans*
Magic Blade
Trail of the Broken Blade 
What Price Honesty 

This is just any movie where the hero is maimed or mentally broken. 

Death Duel 
Eight Diagram Pole Fighter 
The New One-Armed Swordsman 
One-Armed Swordsman
Return of the One-Armed Swordsman 
The Crippled Avengers
Opium and the Kung Fu Master 

These are movies that feature strong romantic storylines. Some are more focused on the romance than others. Painted Skin and Painted Skin Resurrection could have been on this list as well (but I chose to put them on the fantastic wuxia list). Reign of Assassins could also have gone on the dark list. 
Heroes Shed No Tears

The Assassin (1967)
Brave Archer I-III
Golden Swallow 
Heroes Shed No Tears 
House of Flying Daggers 
Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan 
The Butterfly Lovers 
Bride with White Hair
Bride with White Hair II 
Swordsman II*
The White Dragon 

The internet changes quickly. So here are some places online you can send your players for overviews of the genre and related genres:

Wuxia World: This website has a number of full translations of wuxia novels but primarily translates novels from the xianxia genre (and has many active, ongoing translations). Full disclosure: Deathblade, one of the translators at the site, is the writer of Legends of Ogre Gate (a novel set in my Wandering Heroes of Ogre Gate world). 

Drama Panda: This is a blog that feels more like an online magazine dedicated to dramas. I get most of my news on upcoming drama series from Drama Panda. Full Disclosure: I occasionally post for this site. 

Shaw Brothers Universe: Full disclosure: I occasionally post for this site as a fan. 

The Wuxia Society: A comprehensive list of fan translations of wuxia novels. 

Viki and Drama Fever: These are both great ways to watch wuxia series. Drama Fever is available on its own website and through Amazon. Viki is its own site and one of the things I like about it is the comments. People comment on the shows as they watch them (and they appear in the upper corner if you keep that feature turned on. 

For new players I find it is easier to get them to read stuff in print. Luckily there are two very recent translations I like to recommend. In addition to these there are other translations available in print as well like Fox Volant of the Snowy Mountain, The Book and the Sword, etc. 

Online translations are widely available. Here there are a wide range of stories to choose from. The ones I include below give a good overview of different writers. But GMs with different preferences might make other suggestions. 

This is my current list of suggestions for new players. 

In Print
The Eleventh Son*
A Hero Born (first book of Legend of Condor Heroes)
Water Margin

Online Translation
Heroes Shed No Tears
Condor Heroes Trilogy (Legend of Condor Heroes, Return of Condor Heroes, Heaven Sword and Dragon Sabre)
The White Haired Demoness (Baifa Monu Zhuan)

*Appeared on my first list 
**I do not recommend this movie but I recognize it belongs on this list. 

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