The Chinese are fond of making war movies and that’s mainly because the audience loves it. I can understand such emotions during Bruce Lee’s days. The Chinese felt defeated and bullied everywhere they went. There was a strong desire for poetic justice in the virtual world. That’s why Chinese martial arts actors from Bruce Lee to Jet Li played on these emotions and scored numerous box office hits.
Yip Man starring Donnie Yen, a very recent movie, exploited the same plot and theme. It was still a huge success – so much so that even Westerners were interested in Wing Chun.
We know from historical records that Yip Man was not saint. As a policeman, he took bribes and was an opium addict to boot. All this is not important because when you fictionise a character and make him a hero, the audience suspends its disbelief.
All these movies are like candy for the injured pride. What I can’t understand is that after all these years, the pride of so many Chinese people remains wounded. There is still a market for such “kick Japanese ass” movies. What is it going to take for the Chinese to finally move on? Well, maybe after the film-makers go too far.
China is still making low-budget dramas featuring brave Communist fighters standing up against Japanese oppression. They may not succeed in throwing the Japanese out, but they always die gloriously. One recent drama 一起打鬼子 featured Ge Tian, the wife of former Olympic athlete Liu Xiang.
In the final scene, Ge Tian visited her badly beaten lover in jail. The injured man fondled her and pulled a bomb hidden in her crotch. He ignited the bomb and they died together with their Japanese captors. Chinese viewers were not impressed with the lame plot. They went on social media to ridicule it. They might as well have done it for many other dramas that portray the Japanese as devils and trumpet the heroism of the Communist Party. It is quite likely that dramas like these will fade into oblivion as the real Communists peter out.
But I believe a mega production like Yip Man or featuring Jet Li can still sell a lot of tickets.
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