Chinese Anyone

So I’m talking to Fern yesterday on Facebook, and when I say talking I actually mean ‘Wall-ing’ her (yeah it’s not the technical term for it but alas it sounds funnier). Anyway, so she’s dissing 300 and calling it gay porn or some such rubbish, so we started talking movies. I asked her whether or not she was excited for the new Chinese flick that’s getting prepped for release in the UK this weekend, Curse of the Golden Flower. Her response, I’m quoting here:

It’s one of those Chinese films for foreigners. The trailer didn’t even have any words! Even if it features Jay Chow.

See the thing is I’ve heard this kind of response nearly EVERY time I’ve asked someone Chinese about a Chinese movies that makes it into Western theatres. For most people the Chinese outbreak came with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon by Ang Lee a few years ago. I was raised on a staple diet of Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee movies. So much so that my parents have had to watch Drunken Master 1 & 2 several times over with me because I kept renting it from the video store again and again, mainly because I’d seen all the ones in the store and because I loved the interaction with his Master when he was training him. I also loved the food scenes, where you know he’s going to eat the entire house, then get drunk, then not have any money to pay then have a big massive fight. To be fair though I’d not really experienced the full extent of Asian cinema, not by a long shot.

So today I decided to goad Irene into telling me what the deal was with the dislike of Chinese people to exported certain exported Chinese films. So she gave me the standard foreigners line, followed by a curve ball (I’m not actually quoting Irene here but work with me people I’m getting to my point):

It’s nothing we haven’t seen before, since the 1950s. In fact some of the better stuff weren’t movies but TV series.

That’s fucking interesting. Where the hell are they? What are they called? What’s the deal? Name them. Of course they’ve all got Chinese names. C’mon guys it’s not my fault I’m not Chinese, I’ve come to accept that you’ll never hand me the Chinese menu at the restaurant (you know the one with all the authentic good stuff), why are you being stingy with your bloody cinema and tv programmes?

So I’m asking everyone that knows of any good Chinese series (preferably set in the Emperor Chinese era) that are actually ‘good’ and not for foreigners (but with subtitles) for me to get into. After all Battlestar Galactica won’t be back for like at least 6 months, Prison Break won’t be back for a similar amount of time and Lost can only keep my attention for like 45 minutes a week.


  1. Dissing 300, I’m quite looking forward to it, but becuz it’s not available in Chinese theatres, I have to wait for the DVD releases.

    I myself a Chinese quite agree with Fern’s opinion that those films like Curse of the Golden Flower,Crouching Tiger,Hidden Dragon,Hero are totally shot for foreigners. To us chinese,they’re really not interesting at all.I cannot understand why Hero can be rated as #180/250 in IMDB.The way of story telling is quite the same as Akira Kurosawa’s Rashômon.

    There’re indeed some great TV series in China, but honestly I dont think any of ‘em would intrigue your interest. Anyway, I can recommend some for you. Such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms (quite a long historical series), The empire of Emperor KangXi (Kang Xi Wang Chao),Chinese-style Divorce (Zhong Guo Shi Li Hun) and Bloody Romance (Xie Se Lang Man).I really couldnt find an available english external link about the last 3 series for you,so all I can offer you is the name both in English and Chinese pinyin.

    Personally I’d rather recommend you some Chinese films.Such as Farewell My Concubine and To Live.The 2 films both talk about the people’s fate during the changing of history of the latest 60 years in China. And there’s an epic film named The Emperor and the Assassin talks about the Qin Dynasty and the Emperor Qin,I guess you probably like this one :D

    1 punkid
    Quote | 12/4/2007
  2. Okay, let me say, as a female, I did not find 300 to be pornographic, and I, for one, am pretty against all pornography. It was supposed to be a visually stunning film–it is–and it uses the female form for that in more than one scene. On the flip side, the Spartan women are portrayed in a historically accurate way: that they are powerful, have freedoms not afforded to other women of the time, and are not afraid; that is a plus for women. There was only scene, a sex scene, that made me feel like it was just shot for and by men. Anyone who’s seen the movie probably knows which one I’m referring to.

    Now that that’s out of the way: I understand your frustration. I haven’t really dealt with it in the Chinese culture (yet), but I do get sick of people feeling one culture’s cinema style/etc. is superior to someone else’s. That’s stupid and goes against the arts in and of itself, because there are good and bad films of almost all styles, genres and languages, and some people will like some films, while others will not. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not culturally-linked, but some people refuse to realize that, I think.

    2 Lelia Katherine Thomas
    Quote | 12/4/2007
  3. Thanks punkid, good to know the Chinese reader contingency is alive and kicking. Actually following on from this post both Fern and Irene have come back to me and given me a couple of new things to look for. I’ll definitely be looking into the ones you’ve put up (especially The Emperor and the Assassin, although that does sound very much like Hero no?)

    Leila I’m glad you saw that about 300. I was thinking the same thing, the Queen definitely had one of the best lines in the entire movie and played it brilliantly as well. It’s an addition to the graphic novel, but not one that I mind in the slightest. In fact I think it works incredibly well with the rest of the style of the movie, totally.

    3 Khaled
    Quote | 12/4/2007
  4. Hero is based on a fictional story,but The Emperor and the Assassin is telling a true history story,telling how Emperor Qin unified China,how the young king with noble ambition became a cruel despot.

    Actually my favorite Chinese movie is Farewell My Concubine,a tragedy about a Peking Opera actor Chen DieYi who devoted himself to the Chinese traditional opera art and hid his homosexual love towards his partner.

    Both of 2 films above were directed by the same person,Chen KaiGe.These two are the real Chinese films,films like Curse of the Golden Flower are just something kissing Oscar’s ass.

    4 punkid
    Quote | 13/4/2007
  5. 5 kDolphin
    Quote | 14/4/2007

Leave a Comment

(subscribed to comments)