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Chinese Audiences Chew on China-flavored Bond Movie

2013-01-28 13:29:31        xinhua
At the sight of neon-lit skyscrapers in Shanghai and red lanterns inked with Chinese characters in Macao, Ma Ning feels these Chinese elements in the new James Bond film "Skyfall" have "brought her closer than ever" to the series she has loved since childhood.

"The movie could have been set in any other country, but I am glad the director chose China. It made me feel close to Bond," said the 20-year-old college girl.

"Skyfall" hit cinemas in the Chinese mainland on Jan. 21. This Hollywood blockbuster, the first in its series to be cooked with some real China flavor, has won cheer from movie-goers.

"It is a rare thing for an international action movie to depict China in a fashionable way," a 27-year-old media worker surnamed Huang said. "'Skyfall' shows a magnificent side of Shanghai that even the natives may never have seen."

Wu Qi from east China's Shandong Province considered "Skyfall" "largely an under-performance in comparison with the previous Bond movies." But the 25-year-old architect added that the exquisite presentation of Chinese cities seems to be a major selling point to cinema-goers here.

The movie earned 32.03 million yuan (5.15 million U.S. dollars) on its day of release on the Chinese mainland, setting a box office record for 2D Hollywood films that hit the screen on a Monday, according to a report by, a Chinese web portal.

In recent years, incorporating Chinese elements to tap into the world's second-largest film market has been a favorite strategy for many moviemakers, said Chen Shan, a professor with the Beijing Film Academy, citing the exemplary combination in "Kung Fu Panda" of two of China's best-known icons -- martial arts and pandas.

In order to add more exotic flavor for Western viewers and catch Chinese audiences' eyes as well, Chinese faces and locales have been selected to appear in more and more Hollywood movies, added Chen Chuanlu, a moviemaker in Beijing.

Statistics show that the Chinese market has been growing increasingly important for the world's filmmakers, with an average increase of 35 percent year-on-year in the country's box office earnings.

Chinese characters in Hollywood movies began to break the stereotype of being treacherous, backward and superstitious from early this century thanks to the growing importance of the domestic market and increasing understanding about the nation in the Western world, according to Chen.

"As already evidenced in 'Looper' and 'Skyfall,' a multifaceted and modern China, which means more than kung fu and pandas, is making its way to the big screen," the academic said.

But it doesn't mean the China card that foreign directors are beginning to play so frequently has been well-received by all Chinese viewers.

"The shots of Shanghai's night views didn't appeal to me at all. They didn't make it look any different from any other metropolis," said 25-year-old Wu Liyasi, who works in Beijing.

"It feels somewhat weird to see Bond in a Chinese setting," a microblogger using the name "Ningningyuanyuan" noted on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo.

Chinese images conjured by the West are still far from multi-faceted,said professor Chen, suggesting that foreign directors and screenwriters need to constantly update their knowledge of China and its people as they continue playing the China card.

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