Is it just me or are you also tired of these Chinese period epics? Don't get me wrong, I think it's a great genre, but every major movie coming out of China now is a big-budget silk-and-sword blockbuster with imperial ambitions and an overly rendered sense of art direction and choreography. Most are ostensibly grounded in some historical legend, but in reality they're fantasy eye-candy with a pseudo-intellectual pretence because, um, people are spouting Confucian scriptures or unrolling riddled scrolls. I suppose we can blame it on Ang Lee and the overwhelming success of his Oscar-winning Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. When that film came out in 2000, everyone raved about its visual splendour, except for Sino cinema geeks who whined that there was nothing new or original about this movie. 'It's just wuxia for Hollywood,' they dismissed with nose in the air and an old poster of The 36th Chamber of Shaolin on the wall. Well, it seems every other movie from China since then has been trying to prove just how un-original and ordinary it is too. Even a mainland master such as Zhang Yimou got into the high-wire act with his philosophical thesis Hero in 2002 and then a chamber suspense called House of the Flying Daggers in 2004 - both of which found box office success internationally. Just as sweet and sour chicken balls are beloved by middle America, the multiplexes next to Wal-Mart seem to have developed a taste for grandiose, artsy Asian movies with lots of shiny costumes, awesome cinematography and crazy Chinamen kung fu fighting ('Martha, those cats were fast as lightning.' 'In fact Billy Bob, it was a little bit frightening.') Meanwhile, the art houses of New York and Toronto equally lapped up the expert timing, poetic vision and Taoist mystical spiritualism - or is it spiritual mysticism? These movies are also garnering award season attention. Hero was nominated for an Academy Award foreign picture, while Flying Daggers received Bafta, Golden Globe and Oscar cinematography attention. Not surprisingly, plenty of other Asian auteurs got in on the action too. In Hong Kong, Tsui Hark remade his own The Legend of Zu with a lot of cheesy computer effects and just as much Confucian nonsense. South Korean director Kim Sung-su helmed a B-movie epic called Musa the Warrior tapping into much of the same ingredient - swordplay, silk robes, weighty period drama and most importantly, Zhang Ziyi. For a while, you couldn't strap yourself into a wire harness without having to duck Zhang giving you a roundhouse kick to the head. Then there are the overblown Tan Dun-esque scores with lots of rhythmic drumming when the combatants were about to get it on. In a sense, the martial arts epic became as formulaic as a buddy cop action flick. Of course, it's not just flowing costume and Qing dynasty art direction that defines a martial arts period picture. You also need a pretentious name with a poetic lilt and some vague metaphorical significance. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is a bit more meaningful than Dude, Where's My Sword? I wonder if Chen Kaige's The Promise would have done better if they went with the longer American title of Master of the Crimson Armor? Similarly, Jet Li's Fearless just doesn't have the air of thoughtful importance as the original Hong Kong title, Legend of a Fighter. Now, people are adapting stories into wuxia. Seven Swords was essentially a remake of Seven Samurai/The Magnificent Seven with less narrative logic. The Banquet went the full opulent route channelling a Shakespearean storyline into a spectacle of court intrigue. You can't deny that choreographed kung fu always looks great but, man, these overly tragic-romantic stories are becoming tiresome. If I see one more lone swordsman staring out into some vast Mongolian plain pondering his banishment from court and his beloved, I'm going to hurl some mutton. And, by the way, clearly people in pre-modern China did not possess a sense of humour because every film is ridiculously serious. For once, I'd like to see a courtesan's subtitled dialogue read, 'Heavenly prince, is that a new sword in your robe or are you just happy to see me?' Shortly, Zhang Yimou will release his martial artsy epic, Curse of the Golden Flower (what a title!) with Chow Yun-fat and Gong Li draped head to toe in royal court attire, with a cast of thousands and art directed to every inch of the palace. This one is also set in the Forbidden City (which is the mecca of the genre). No doubt it will be very spectacular, but it's all starting to blur in my head. I can't separate the forest from the bamboo anymore.