There Is no Such Thing as Asia: Racial Particularities
in the “Asian” Films of Hong Kong and Japan

By Kwai-Cheung Lo

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 17, no. 1, pp. 133-158

This essay discusses the developments of inter-Asian cinema in order to theorize the concept of Asia and its impossible representation in relation to the mechanism of global modernity. By focusing on the ethnic elements in the Japanese film Sleepless Town and the Hong Kong movie Fulltime Killer , the essay explains how racial particularity can dialectically designate the totality of Asia, and argues that, in the process of striving to represent Asia in these Asian films, there is always a signifier without a signified that carries no determine meaning, since it stands for the presence of meaning as such, by which the emptiness of its signified will be filled in by some contingent particular meaning, through the hegemonic struggle, to function as a stand-in for the meaning of Asia.