Louis Bourgeois, "Velvet Eyes," Massachusetts Museum of Modern Art (MASS MOCA)
Sometimes, selling U.S. products and services overseas feels like do-or-die in a war zone. We need insiders who tip us off to dodge a potential disaster. A scene in an old, black-and-white, Cantonese movie in Hong Kong which I saw as a teenager comes to mind in recent days.
A young couple want to escape from a Magic Academy ruled by their evil grandmother, the Witch Queen who has supreme magical power. No one can leave the tribe without her consent. She will kill you if you defy her.
Undaunted by the desire to seek freedom and liberty in a better land, they decide to take the ultimate risk. But to escape, they must fight their way by defeating the many armed guardians stationed at numerous gateways in their labyrinth-like village.
These guardians are their fellow schoolmates, co-workers and relatives. At one of the battles, the gate-keeper is the man’s mother. The mother sympathizes with their cause. She lets them look like they have defeated her by letting them cut her so that she bleeds. This proves to her fellow guardians that this renegade couple have vanquished her against her will. In addition, the mother shares with them a life-saving secret to survive the flying dagger which evil grandma will inexorably unleash to kill them even if they defeat all gatekeepers like her.
The trick -- taught by the man's mother -- is for them to keep running away from the village but hoisting a live chicken tied to the top of a long, slander bamboo pole. As the couple run frantically for their lives, the magical flying dagger comes to chop their heads off. Thanks to the mother's tip, the flying dagger chops off the head of the dangling chicken, mistaking the chicken’s blood for their blood. It flies back and reports to the Witch Queen that it has done its job. The couple leave the village alive.
To me, this old movie scene both haunts and warms the human spirits. When I began my career in international sales, a kind and sympathetic customer in a foreign land gave me the secret to survive the inevitable flying dagger.
James Wah Kong Chan, Ph.D., Consultant Asia Marketing and Management (AMM) 2014 Naudain Street