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    "China's crime-free crime films" - New York Times

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    Brian T

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    "China's crime-free crime films" - New York Times

    Post  Brian T on Sun Feb 15, 2015 5:25 pm

    Thought this deserved a place here, regardless of whether it engenders much discussion. This pieces nicely sums up some key reasons why Mainland Chinese cinema (and now, unfortunately, much Hong Kong cinema by association) is likely to NEVER pose any threat to Hollywood's global dominance, despite Chinese filmmakers and distributors boasting about their "record" box office revenues for homegrown fare. Pretty easy when the guv'ment pretty much limits the ability to choose imported films at all during key times of the year.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/04/opinion/sunday/chinas-crime-free-crime-films.html?_r=0

    "Welcome to the world of screenwriting for China, where crime stories are crime free, ghost tales have no ghosts and crooked politicians can’t be crooked."

    Rolling Eyes
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Location : Modesto, CA

    Re: "China's crime-free crime films" - New York Times

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Mon Feb 16, 2015 10:37 am

    Good read though I think I could have done without: "but few people outside the country have ever watched a Chinese movie released there: Once you’ve seen one acrobatic hero single-handedly dispatch an enemy platoon, you’ve seen a lifetime’s worth."
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    Brian T

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    Re: "China's crime-free crime films" - New York Times

    Post  Brian T on Mon Feb 16, 2015 2:25 pm

    That's actually the line that resonated most with me! Laughing  I think it holds more true outside the circle of Asian Film fans, though, and a lot of the reviews, both professional and amateur, of  Manland China's endless waves of CG-enhanced, cast-of-millions (-of-pixels) costume warfare epics--essentially the only mainland films with potential for distribution in foreign markets due to their genre elements, and the groundwork already laid by Hong among cinema for the past 60 years or so--often note that the finished products are ultimately indistinguishable additions to a tiresome trend made by filmmakers hamstrung by government edicts.

    As mentioned, those are largely the only films to have potential saleability on the global home video market, and as such they represent an uncomfortably high percentage of the mainland cinema that gets released on DVD and on-demand in the U.S., Europe and other territories. And when one realizes that few of the technically-proficient directors of these films have genuinely distinctive styles (something their Hong Kong counterparts were able to cultivate in a much freer environment), and are all working to please the regime, their films really do start to blend after a while. Thus, to the "average" DVD or stream renter/buyer, I think the "seen one, seen 'em all" label is apt, even if it is something of a blanket statement.

    A confession, though: While I have a TON of Chinese costume epics of recent vintage in my possession (more for context when I eventually get back to writing my little capsule HK movie reviews than anything), I'll admit I haven't watched many of them yet (still working toward that time!), but I have seen extended chunks of a great many of them when I'm in the Chinese malls, and even to me, someone who generally KNOWS what he's seeing, that generic blandness is palpable. It's even more heartbreaking to realize some of these shows are actually the products of former Hong Kong talent who've had to tow the Mailand line in order to stay gainfully employed.

    But such are the times, and I'm at least grateful that some truly Hong Kong films made by actual Hong Kong filmmakers still push the envelope as far as they can, or at least tell distinctly localized stories using local talent, some of whom can still play criminals, ghosts or crooked politicians. Laughing

    Mainland cinema is certainly worth watching, and a bit more diverse than the average Joe in the rest of the world probably realizes or cares, but it will always be something of a joke to me as long as a bunch of hair-dyed old men can dictate what is acceptable for billions of their own people to watch (especially when many of those billions get what they want from pirating anyway, while their government looks the other way).
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    Masterofoneinchpunch

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    Re: "China's crime-free crime films" - New York Times

    Post  Masterofoneinchpunch on Wed Feb 18, 2015 12:22 pm

    Well the battle films certainly repeat many themes, characters, ideas etc... I'm feeling you might see way too much deja vu if you watch them in a row. The ideology can get quite annoying. I complained about it in several mini-reviews and then I have not watched as many of the battle mainland films in the past few years. In a way I miss the older Zhang Yimou films (before the government got to him.) It does not mean that some good films like Drug War or Journey to the West get out but it does hurt a lot of the product. Its amazing how much they cannot do that the previously popular Hong Kong films could do (though HK films did often avoid direct political talk.) I know we will sound like old men "in the olden days of Hong Kong cinema" (shaking cane in the air), but seriously it is true.

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