Overcrowding the cinema with Chinese historical movies
As Chinese historical movies continues to populate the theatre, the Chinese cultural stories is used so unsparingly that one wonders what’s next for the commercial theatre when these stories are used up.
In this upcoming Hong Kong biographical movie “The Lost Bladesman”, Donnie Yen stars as the general Guan Yu, one of the legendary Chinese historical figures who served under Cao Cao and was well known for his strict observance of the brotherhood code.
The Lost Bladesman trailer
Martial arts used to be Hong Kong’s niche, whereby films featuring Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan dominated the film scene in 1970s, which eventually progress to gangster-police films like Infernal Affairs trilogy as formulaic action films no longer enchant the audiences. Coupled with talented Hong Kong directors being lured away to Hollywood, the glorious Hong Kong cinema soon faded until now, as its mainland China is expected to exceed Hollywood and Bollywood in terms of quantity and quality of the film productions.
Past Chinese cultural movies like Ip Man to the much anticipated upcoming Monkey God (starring Donnie Yen…once again) have much appeal to both Eastern and Western audiences, either because the audience were familiar with these stories, or they were so used to Western productions that such oriental stories is a novelty to them.
For now, Chinese directors are able to make full use of China’s rich culture for commercially-viable ideas, whether visually or audio wise. Ranging from countless of strategic war stories to mythical legends, there is much to explore and excite the audience. However, it remains to be seen as to whether these cultural stories will continue to excite or eventually fade away like its Hong Kong action film industry.
In order to evolve into a content industry like how the Japanese culture continues to draw followers globally over the years consistently, the Chinese commercial film industry could start by exploring its independent film scene whereby thousands of independent films are produced annually and gaining recognition overseas for its unorthodox and honest screenplay of China culture.
That is, if these indie films even manage to get pass China’s censorship board and its paranoia over any inglorious presentation of the state.