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Provocateur in heels

Film star Yao Chen is pushing the boundaries of free speech in China. How far will she go?

By Dan Levin   April 2012

In 2006, a martial arts sitcom called My Own Swordsman, set in a mythical Ming Dynasty-era tavern, had its premiere on Chinese television. For 80 episodes, the inn’s zany cast of characters flew over tiled roofs, drank rice wine and fell in and out of love, all the while battling corrupt imperial officials and slaying would-be assassins. A young actress named Yao Chen provided much of the comic relief, playing a sassy, altruistic waitress who knew kung fu (her signature move was known as “the fist of toppling mountains and moving oceans”). To get a sense of the show and…

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