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Archive for August 17th, 2009

This Post is Not Yet Harmonized

I’d be a liar if I say that my news blog here is as balanced as the news should be. Gathering the news is only one of the reasons why I started this blog, another reason being for me to share my opinion on the news I choose to share.

Yes, I don’t choose to report all the news I see, because some I don’t know well enough to cover, and some I just don’t care. For example, Johnnie To getting a retrospective at Pusan would be relevant for the blog. “Leng Mo” Chrssie Chau going out with her boyfriend or whether TVB star Kevin Cheng will be friends with his Flaming Hearts (trust me, it’s about firefighters) co-stars would not.

So accusing this blog of bias would not be a criticism, but a statement of fact. You can’t fight fact because it’s true.

Fact: Chinese censorship exists.

Fact: Hong Kong filmmakers self-censor or censor each other in order to fit their films for the Chinese market.

Case in point: Alan Mak and Felix Chong said, as quoted in Hong Kong Film Magazine (the new version of City Entertainment), that Overheard was only made after several of their ideas were rejected for not being able to pass Chinese censors. The only reason producer Derek Yee got Overheard made was because corruption is a popular genre in China. So popular that I’ve seen a whole shelf of TV drama DVDs in a Shenzhen legit DVD store under the genre label “Corruption”.

Fact: The Mainland Chinese version of Overheard has several extra scenes that show one character is clearly working with the ICAC. The Hong Kong version keeps the gray-ish morality and ends that way.

Fact: The directors of Lady Cop and Papa Crook had to edit their film three times, as well as do additional reshoots, with the Chinese censorship body finally accepting the fourth version. Even the final Mainland version is reported to have been further “harmonized” from the Hong Kong theatrical version.

Fact: Transformers 2 was “harmonized”

Fact: Lost in Beijing was “harmonized”, then was banned anyway.

Fact: Lust, Caution was “harminized” voluntarily, then was banned, along with its female star, who has now since immigrated to Hong Kong and finally found a follow-up role.

So can anyone really blame me for not being a fan of China’s State Administration of Film and Television? I guarantee you won’t be after you realize its ex-deputy director went off to make this movie:



Compared to this, Rush Hour 3 is an artistic achievement. 

With films like that driving China’s domestic film market (so bad that 74% of the 2450 voters on Chinese entertainment rating site Douban gave it a failing grade) and Transformers 2 becoming the most popular movie EVER there, I’d think an argument that a good co-production film is made in spite of China is a fair one.

Another “in spite of” argument? On Her Majesty Secret Service is lazy and unfunny, in spite being made for a Mainland Chinese audience.

Oh, I’m sorry, that’s a “because of” argument. Copyright © 2002-2024 Ross Chen