New Chinese martial arts film hero is coming to town

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Every now and then the cinema produces a martial arts hero with apparent superhuman skills that captivates audiences. This includes master Bruce Lee, comedian Jackie Chan, and actor Jet Li.

And now a new hero has arrived in town. Jing Wu is the star of the record-breaking Chinese box office action film Wolf Warrior II.

International media tout Wu as the next global hit.

Chinese newspapers even called Wu the next Chuck Norris.

With a budget of just $ 30 million (R 390 million), the film opened in China on July 27 and earned $ 780 million, making it the highest grossing film ever to be made in China.

Not only was it a vote of confidence for the local film industry but, as one Chinese newspaper aptly summed it up, it was also a reflection of the patriotic mood sweeping the country.

In the film, actor and martial arts guru Wu plays Feng Leng, a special forces agent.

The plot, which has been compared to Rambo’s, revolves around a rescue operation in the deepest and darkest Africa.

The protagonist is a former People’s Liberation Army soldier who saves the day by helping evacuate Chinese businessmen, workers and residents from a war-torn and disease-ravaged country.

Although the plot of the film is fictional, in some ways it touches reality. Chinese troops were sent to evacuate the Chinese when civil war erupted in Libya in 2011 and Yemen in 2015. Chinese medics were also on hand to help during the Ebola outbreak.

The country’s largest English-language national newspaper ran an op-ed praising the film for its efforts to promote a modern Chinese military hero, “especially since there are many such heroes in real life, thanks to the China’s growing participation in world affairs “.

Movie critics have gotten lyrical about the fresh, realistic storyline, which deviates from the usual on-screen shallow fare that focuses more on casting pretty faces than on a concrete plot. One critic pointed out that the Chinese bemoan the poor quality of local cinema, with most audiences favoring Hollywood blockbusters.

Wolf Warrior II excelled, eclipsing another local production on “The Most Beautiful Fairy Couple”.

The film’s release was perfectly timed with the People’s Liberation Army celebrating its 90th anniversary.

During the celebrations, bold images of President Xi Jinping in his military fatigues made headlines in local newspapers and programs aired on national news channels.

The film also gave a boost to the Chinese military and its navy, which are taking on more global responsibilities.

It sent a subliminal message that it is no longer the powerful Americans who are rolling up their sleeves, trying to clean up the searing mess that is Africa.

China has become Africa’s help. As the debate continues over whether China is an outcast or a savior, Africa is doing well with China’s economic boom.

China’s film industry grossed 27 billion yuan (52 billion rand) at the box office last year, accounting for more than half of the total market. This is promising, as Hollywood blockbusters still attract most audiences.

The Chinese film industry produced Fan Bingbing, Li and Chan, which were propelled onto the international stage.

The sensation around Wu has a powerful magnetic pull, which the Chinese government could harness as soft power and garner favor around the world.

Apparently America has a knack for harnessing such soft power. The US government and the Pentagon understand this power well and have helped promote the country’s dream factory, Hollywood, in its mission of art representing reality. He produced blockbuster after blockbuster, selling the American dream and the American hero to the world.

President Xi has staked his reputation on realizing his signature slogan, the “Chinese Dream”.

Film studios nationwide should work with his government to produce more box office hits to influence the rest of the world to embrace this dream.

It worked for the United States, it might work well for the Chinese.

Peters is the live editor of Weekend Argus. She has a 10-month fellowship with the China Africa Press Center. Instagram: mels_chinese_takeout


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