What do you know about Chinese films?

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I'm working on a project about Chinese cinema, and I need to interview some movie fans who are not of Chinese ancestry about what they know/think about Chinese movies.

First of all, how do you define what is Chinese?
What is your experience? What have you seen or would like to see?
What is your impression of Mainland Chinese films?
Any other thoughts, favorite films and why, feel free to add.

-- This is for a class on Chinese Pop Culture (about 99% focused on the mainland).

Feel free to post your thoughts. If possible, can you tell me where you live -- what country or state? Thanks so much!



First of all, how do you define what is Chinese?
Anything made by people from mainland China. Although with the recent trend of co-productions it's hard to tell what's Taiwanese, Hong-kong or Chinese...
What is your experience? What have you seen or would like to see?
I've seen a few, lately mostly historical epics or wuxia. The most recent was Red Cliff I believe...it wasn't very good.
What is your impression of Mainland Chinese films?
Not enough diversity or artistic merit, at least as far as the stuff the gets distributed abroad. Anything that resembles critiquing the system gets censored. Sugarcoated films or social melodramas seeped with propaganda seem to be the norm (with notable exceptions such as Blind shaft, Still life and Devils on the doorstep).

I'm from Croatia btw.



First, I think the kungfu panda is about Chinese kungfu, and I have seen some chinese kungfu films.

Second, I think some of Chinese films are good. I know Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Well, Lucy Liu is chinese,too.



For me, what I know about Chinese films is that even if it's an epic, about an hour after I've seen one I feel like watching another.
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I never could get the hang of Thursdays.
First of all, how do you define what is Chinese?
I honestly don't know. Is it films made in China, or films in a Chinese language? Do Hong Kong films count? I've even seen The Wedding Banquet mentioned as a Chinese films being partly in Mandarin but it's really Taiwanese/American.

So not being able to answer the first question, I'm not sure how to answer the rest. There's Lust,Caution but that's pretty much a co-production, not wholly Chinese (a very good film, though).

So extending my knowledge of Chinese cinema beyond Ang Lee would be a good idea for me, I think...

Although I have seen A Chinese Ghost Story (using all English titles because I can't spell the Chinese ones). That was a pretty silly film, although quite entertaining. Sorry not to be of more help...



Anything made by people from mainland China. Although with the recent trend of co-productions it's hard to tell what's Taiwanese, Hong-kong or Chinese...
I've seen a few, lately mostly historical epics or wuxia. The most recent was Red Cliff I believe...it wasn't very good.

Not enough diversity or artistic merit, at least as far as the stuff the gets distributed abroad. Anything that resembles critiquing the system gets censored. Sugarcoated films or social melodramas seeped with propaganda seem to be the norm (with notable exceptions such as Blind shaft, Still life and Devils on the doorstep).

I'm from Croatia btw.
Thank you, that was a wonderful reply! Croatia is another of my intellectual fetishes, lol. I would love to go there some day!



I honestly don't know. Is it films made in China, or films in a Chinese language? Do Hong Kong films count? I've even seen The Wedding Banquet mentioned as a Chinese films being partly in Mandarin but it's really Taiwanese/American.

So not being able to answer the first question, I'm not sure how to answer the rest. There's Lust,Caution but that's pretty much a co-production, not wholly Chinese (a very good film, though).

So extending my knowledge of Chinese cinema beyond Ang Lee would be a good idea for me, I think...

Although I have seen A Chinese Ghost Story (using all English titles because I can't spell the Chinese ones). That was a pretty silly film, although quite entertaining. Sorry not to be of more help...
You raise all the same questions that film historians/critics/etc raise, and that is the point I am going to make. Because of all the restrictions, well, not to mention the Cultural Revolution keeping a rich, mature culture from joining the rest of world cinema at the time when it really started to explode, Chinese cinema emerges now as an inherently transnational product.


So thanks!



So just wondering if anyone has seen any of these films? What did you think of them?

Tuya's Wedding
Crazy Stone
Summer Palace (Yihe Yuan)
Mongolian Ping Pong
Beijing Bicycle
The World
Suzhou River

They are films from Mainland directors of the "Sixth Generation" and are the equivalent of what we'd call "indie" films here in the US. Most are in Mandarin or other dialects (not Cantonese) of the mainland. Some have some funding or producing connection to Hong Kong, but the directors are resolutely postmodern mainlanders.



I like the fighting in chineese movie.

haiyaaaaaaa



First, I think the kungfu panda is about Chinese kungfu, and I have seen some chinese kungfu films.

Second, I think some of Chinese films are good. I know Jackie Chan and Jet Li. Well, Lucy Liu is chinese,too.
But Kung Fu Panda wasn't a Chinese film.



So just wondering if anyone has seen any of these films? What did you think of them?

Tuya's Wedding
Crazy Stone
Summer Palace (Yihe Yuan)
Mongolian Ping Pong
Beijing Bicycle
The World
Suzhou River

They are films from Mainland directors of the "Sixth Generation" and are the equivalent of what we'd call "indie" films here in the US. Most are in Mandarin or other dialects (not Cantonese) of the mainland. Some have some funding or producing connection to Hong Kong, but the directors are resolutely postmodern mainlanders.
I've seen Tuya's wedding and The world and I have Beijing Bicycle but haven't seen it yet. Tuya's wedding was a good but not great social drama similar to the low key works of Zhang Zimou or Iranian cinematography in that it focused on the plight of ordinary, poor people, only I thought it lacked the charm and humor usually associated with such films. The world on the other hand was a bit too languid for my taste, although it was good look at the impact of globalization on modern China. I was very apprehensive about watching Summer palace because I figured no film about the 89' protests could avoid being a propaganda film, but it appears it was actually banned from mainland China so that's encouraging...in terms of its possible quality naturally, censorship is bad.



Meh, who would want to watch a Chinese film just for the heck of it? I mean if I saw one that I wanted to see, I would see it. But seriously, I mean Chinese?

Meh, I'm gonna go watch an Argentina film.



You're a Genius all the time
For me, what I know about Chinese films is that even if it's an epic, about an hour after I've seen one I feel like watching another.
Can I just say that this is one of the biggest food-related misconceptions known to man? Chinese food, without fail, fills me up and I have never felt that my stomach got gypped by a good meal at my local Chinese eatery. If I have a General Tso's Chicken Lunch Special with a side of pork fried rice, not only will I not get hungry again for quite a while, I actually think Chinese food, much like bubblegum, sticks to the lining of your innards and stays in your system even longer than regular food.



Some of us enjoy watching foreign films...
Well I never said I didn't. I watch a movie that I want to see, not because it is a foreign film. For example...

I am looking forward to seeing the upcoming remake of 12 Angry Men which happens to be a foreign film.



Registered User
I think chinese culture kind of differs. If its about war films, Hero(2002) made a huge impact with the arrow rain scene. Probably even to western culture.

Cape no.7 recently made a good rise in taiwan. Its not really full chinese but people get the "feel" out of it.

Wong kar wai has many good films too that captivate moods very well.

Zhang yimou stylizes chinese martial arts. the colors and all. Like Curse of golden flower. The many golden soldiers rushing in the palace again silver soldiers was kind of badass.

Martial arts film go all the way for chinese films too. Jet li, jackie chan, donnie yen.

Edward yang writes spectacular scripts too bad he died recently. Ah whatever.



Registered User
Being form Norway, seeing foreign films, or subtitled films, isn’t something I am uncustomary to.

To categorize movie by country of origin have always been a “no no” for my part. It gives me as a viewer no useful information about the movie. What language they speak on the other hand is very important. Some languages, like Mongolian and the Russian/Slavic languages, makes my stomach sick. Mandarin and Cantonese aren’t the most beautiful languages out there, but they aren’t nausea inducing.

I can’t say that my experience with Chinese movies is all that great. I think I only have seen twenty or so movies when one includes those form Hong Kong. The majority, but not all, of these are shockingly enough Kung Fu or Wuxia flicks.
I think the reason for my lack of interest in Chinese movies can be attributed to the Chinese filmmakers. Unlike the contemporary filmmakers of Japan and Korea, I find the Chinese filmmakers quite boring. They are not lacking in interesting concepts, but I find their presentation very unimaginative and formulistic.

If you exclude the random array of Kung Fu and Wuixa movies I have ready to viewing, the only Chinese movie I currently have on my way to big playlist is Three Times.
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