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10 best Chinese films in 2011 [Copy link] 中文

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The past year has seen Chinese mainland's film industry rake in more than 13.1 billion yuan (US$2.07 billion) at the box office, and domestic studios produce 791 films in various genres. The quality of most films, however, is still an issue.

There were standout films, though. There was Gu Changwei's "Love for Life" (starring A-listers Zhang Ziyi and Aaron Kwok) that tried to tackle the issue of AIDS. There was also Li Yu's art film "Buddha Mountain" (starring Fan Bingbing and Sylvia Chang) that tried to explore life's cruel realities and salvations. We had China's first visual cult "The Butcher, the Chef, and the Swordsman" and an innovative Kung Fu hero romance "Wuxia" that redefined the genre with some startling, and fascinating additions.

So, break out the popcorn as the editor rolls the credits for 10 best films made by filmmakers on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan...


10. Love Is Not Blind

No one guessed that the romantic comedy "Love is Not Blind", directed by Teng Huatao, would sweep box offices across China. The film, with no dazzling visual effects, big name director or actors and only a modest budget, was adapted from a popular web-published novel. The film starred a group of mainland TV stars and was a magnet for young audiences. Despite costing less than 10 million yuan to produce, the film ended up making 350 million yuan (US$55.44 million).

"Love Is Not Blind" hit cinemas on Singles' Day (Nov. 11, 2011), and has remained popular ever since. The story explores how a girl, who has just broken up her boyfriend, copes with the lost love and learns lessons from it as she looks back on the relationship. She is helped in her recovery by another man. This smart, strong, considerate but perhaps slightly girlish (maybe for comedy effect) character helps the girl deal with her heartbreak and eventually falls in love with her.

This simple, down-to-earth tale includes a multitude of witticisms and also makes reference to many of the events and phenomena in contemporary Chinese society. Its success, along with being somewhat miraculous, also makes the film a beacon of hope for all middle-or-small budget films and filmmakers everywhere. It also proves the genuine market potential of a good script and the undoubted power of those who produce Chinese TV series.
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9. Flying Swords of the Dragon Gate

3D IMAX Kung Fu movie "Flying Swords of the Dragon Gate" by Hong Kong film wizard Tsui Hark, is the bold and groundbreaking sequel to the 1992 Hong Kong wuxia classic "New Dragon Gate Inn" which blew "Kung Fu Panda" out of the water.

For this sequel, Tsui Hark chose to re-imagine the plot instead of simply remaking the old classic. Tsui himself worked on the script, along with directing and producing the film to ensure originality. Tsui Hark has always been a guru of wuxia, a broad genre of Chinese fiction about the adventures of martial arts heroes.

Tsui Hark this time enlists Kung Fu superstar Jet Li along with an all-star supporting cast. Though there are some flat performances and clichéd plot lines, the film redeems itself as a visual spectacle.

The film's 3-D IMAX visual effects, which were co-produced by nine top international visual effects companies, truly shine. Actually Chuck Comisky, the visual-effects supervisor for James Cameron's "Avatar", teams up with Tsui Hark as the film's 3-D special effects director. The quality of the 3-D effects, which are further enhanced by IMAX, is, in some parts, even equal to those in "Avatar". The creation of a duel inside a cyclone challenges the wildest imagination of any previous martial arts film.

Although "Flying Swords of the Dragon Gate" may not be Tsui Hark's best work, from a technical standpoint it raises the bar for Chinese filmmakers and could be a watershed for the Chinese film industry.
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Post time 2012-2-10 16:26:24 |Display all floors
8. Kuiba

Many have bemoaned the lack of sophistication, imagination and creativity in cartoons, as well as their boring lecturing, weak storylines and ridiculous character settings. There may, however, be hope.

"Kuiba", the 35-million-yuan (US$5.4 million) original Chinese animated feature film from veteran Beijing-based television studio Vassoon Animation, is China's latest attempt to showcase its homegrown cartoon talent. For Chinese people, the story of "Kuiba" is unique but familiar; what's more, the film's release could be a watershed event in the history of Chinese animation.

The plot centers around a monkey-boy named Manji who struggles to be a hero whilst fighting his inner demons. Eight script writers spent six years refining the story, building a completely new fictional world with its own nations and diverse bio-systems, much like the alternate universes created for J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" or George Lucas's "Star Wars".

The film's Japanese anime styling may have caused some controversy, but Vassoon's sincere and mature effort has touched the hearts of many viewers and critics. For the first time, a Chinese animated feature is targeting general audiences, not just young kids. The film not only carries inspiring themes, such as courage, perseverance, and self-discovery, but also explores the relationship of father and son and comments on various social issues. The storyline is tight and breathtaking, and should resonate with Chinese and foreign audiences alike.

Despite this, however, "Kuiba" has taken a disappointing 3.5 million yuan at the box office, with most of the blame being heaped on poor marketing strategy, theater screening schedules and so on. The film was actually promoted on the street by those directly involved in its making, rather than relying on the efforts of the distribution company, as is customary. An online debate ensued in which people discussed how Chinese animations should be made, supported and then promoted. After losing its commercial battle, "Kuiba" surprisingly started to generate a diehard online following, and with the film's producers claiming that lessons have been learned, there may yet be more to come from a franchise that was originally slated to be a five-episode series.
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7. Overheard 2

"Overheard 2" is a surprising and entertaining Hong Kong action movie which sparkled in a year when other directors of Hong Kong blockbusters failed to deliver their best.

In 1973, against the backdrop of one of the worst stock market downturns in history, a group of young, talented stock brokers in Hong Kong joined forces to help local Chinese companies fight against hostile takeovers by foreign investors. As time went by, the young stock managers become stock moguls. With Szema Cheung (Wu Fung) and Wong Sai Tung (Kenneth Tsang) leading the way as brothers, they form a small group known as "Di Zhu Hui" (literally Landlord Gang). As the group becomes increasingly powerful, they soon realize that they can control the local market and generate huge personal profits for themselves. Faced with the prospect of such huge financial benefits, Szema Cheung (Wu Fung) and Wong Sai Tung (Kenneth Tsang) make life-changing decisions.

This is the background story that movie "Overheard 2" is trying to tell.

Named as the sequel to the 2009 crime thriller "Overheard", few movie-goers would have expected "Overheard 2" to be a totally different and much more complicated story. The film's co-directors Alan Mak and Felix Chong assemble the same cast from the first installment. However, they also added two heavyweight actors to take two important supporting roles: Wu Fung and Kenneth Tsang.

Just like the first installment of the series, "Overheard 2" is a sad tale. Long-time friends finally turn enemies when faced with the prospect of huge financial profits, and the pursuance of justice demands large sacrifices; even life.
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6. Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale

"Warriors of the Rainbow: Seediq Bale" was the epic of the year in Taiwan. The historical drama is directed by Wei Te-Sheng and produced by John Woo, based on the Wushe Incident in central Taiwan in 1930.

When Taiwan was a colony under Japanese rule beginning in 1895, the Seediq nation of Taiwanese aborigines were forced to lose their own culture and renounce their faith. The film depicts the Wushe Incident, which occurred in central Taiwan during Japanese rule. When the Seediq Bale, believing in the Rainbow, and the Japanese, believing in the Sun, met one another, they fought. The leader of Seediq Bale, Mona Rudao, led 300 warriors in battle against 3,000 Japanese troopers.

The film is divided into two parts: Part 1 is called "The Flag of Sun," and part 2 "The Bridge of Rainbow." Their combined running total is around four and half hours. The film was shown in competition at the 68th Venice International Film Festival and it was selected as a contender for nomination for the 84th Academy Awards for Best Foreign Language Film in 2011, making the shortlist of nominees.

In 2003, Wei raised NT$ 2 million to shoot a 5-minute demonstration film in order to showcase the story and to garner financial support. Despite the short film's positive critical reception, Wei could not secure enough funding to begin filming. However, due to the popularity of Wei's first full-length film "Cape No. 7" in 2008, the director decided to revive the project. It began production in 2009 with a US$10 million budget. After it was released, the two parts made NT$ 900 million (US$ 30 million) in Taiwan alone, making it the highest grossing film ever on the island.

However, the original two parts were combined into a single cut version for various international festivals, which may seem somewhat incomplete. As a result the film has had mixed reviews. The film can be compared to such releases as "Braveheart," "Avatar," "300," "Pocahontas" and "Dance with Wolves." The film became a 2011 cultural phenomenon in Taiwan, when everybody, from young students to history academics, tried to research, discuss and explore the uneasy truths left behind by history.
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5. Kora

Based on the best-selling book of the same name, the road movie "Kora" (pilgrimage) tells the tale of a young Taiwanese who journeys to Tibet by bicycle, hoping to complete the journey his dead brother was never able to finish. The film also depicts the beautiful scenery alongside the Yunnan-Tibet borders, from Lijiang to Lhasa.

While the film is partly concerned with depicting the magnificent scenery of the Yunnan-Tibet borders region, "Kora" also has a strong sentimental aspect. Despite the lack of romantic salvation, the stories which unfold on the road touched audiences deeply, particularly those who have actually cycled to Tibet.

No matter whether it's about a Tibetan boy, a young nun, a Tibetan Mastiff or simply the passersby, the emotions evoked by, and transmitted by this serene film were sincere and real. "Kora" is a film for everyone who has ever dreamed of escaping the everyday slog and tedium of urban life. What will happen on the road? You will never know until you have the courage to strike out on an incredible journey of your own.
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Post time 2012-2-10 16:28:18 |Display all floors
4. You Are the Apple of My Eye

Taiwan-made "You Are the Apple of My Eye," directed by Taiwan author Giddens Ko and adapted from one of his most popular Internet-published novels, is a highly personal movie and sincere love letter to the love who got away. As well as its irresistible youth appeal, the movie will also speak to all of us who were once young students.

The movie, whose Chinese title can be literally translated as "In those years, the girl we all went after", is a semi-autobiographical love story about his high school years when he, the mischievous Ko Ching-teng (Ko Chen-tung), and several friends all fell in love with a girl named Shen Chia-yi (Michelle Chen), also an honor student. The story is so autobiographical that Giddens Ko used people's real names (including his own) in the movie.

Although cut and censored for its release on the mainland, the original Taiwan version of the movie is a combination of pure love story and teen sex comedy like "American Pie." Giddens Ko's overblown life of excessive masturbation, adult movie watching, recreational nudity only becomes pure and beautiful when he is with his muse.

Due to misunderstandings and youthful immaturity, Ko Ching-teng and Shen Chia-yi go their separate ways following a fight. But Ko retains his feelings for her over the years. When he finally gets around to express his love, it's too late, as Shen is about to marry another man. Although he can't alter events, Ko forever cherishes the memory of the love they once shared.

"You Are the Apple of My Eye" might be writer Giddens Ko's first- and last-movie, and it chronicles his love, experiences and growth. It is a simple story which is modestly, and simply, filmed. This, though, doesn't detract from how the film resonates with legions of viewers, as it affords them the opportunity to look back on their own past and be moved to tears by their sweet memories, foolish escapades, shared tears, laughter and lost loves.

"You Are the Apple of My Eye" became a nostalgic phenomenon rather than being a film for those who were young, ambitious, careful and carefree. Audiences found themselves staring into a mirror. Due to the outpouring of emotion, Ko Ching-teng's directorial debut became the highest grossing Chinese film of all time in Hong Kong (HK$61.28 million) and the third highest grossing film (NT$420 million) of all time in Taiwan. The movie opened on the mainland in Jan. 2012 and has grossed over 60 million yuan thus far. Incredibly, actor Ko Chen-tung also won the "Best Newcomer" award at the 48th Golden Horse Awards for his role in this film.
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