WATCH OUT. Asian movie screens are about to be over-run by suspiciously good cops.
I heard this from someone who wanted only to be identified as Movie Industry Source of Truth, or MIST.
“Asian filmmakers wanting to get their movies into China have to follow secret directives to fill them with positive messages about angelic police officers,” he said.
This is because the Chinese government has decided that everyone in the movie industry is motivated by a deep urge to instill moviegoers with respect for men in uniform. (One day, someone’s going to have to tell them the truth. Volunteers please line up ahead of me.)
MIST revealed that there are actually four versions of the crime thriller Infernal Affairs.
In the Hong Kong original and the US remake, the bad guy gets away with his crime.
Naked Ambition was a feeble comedy about guys who make a fortune publishing pornographic magazines. The same footage appeared in cinemas in mainland China, re-edited to tell a even feebler tale about how evil men in the vice trade were caught by, you guessed it, good cops.
Asian film expert Paul Fox told me that the lure of getting on to cinema screens in mainland China is causing movie makers to try “to fit into the cookie-cutter standards of mainland regulations”.
The bad guy who meets the good girl (above) in One Night in Mongkok was from mainland China. But in the version released in China, he was a foreigner.
This is because, as everyone knows, there is NO CRIME in China. All 1.3 billion citizens are good cops or something similar.
New films in the region and further afield are now often co-financed by mainland China film commissions or production houses, so only one version is made: the one where all problems are solved by good cops.
Think about recent Asian movies.
The crime movie Overheard is about crooked financiers being caught by good cops struggling with temptation.
The sci-fi epic Kungfu Cyborg (pic at the top of this column) is about a robot (who works as a good cop) who finds himself in a love triangle between a man and a woman(both of whom are good cops).
Since nearly all moviemakers have their eyes on China, it’s only a matter of time before Winnie-the-Pooh, Ice Age 4 and Hannah Montana 2 all climax with a group of noble armed cops from Beijing crashing through the doors and arresting everyone.
Terrified that no one will want to see such films, some East Asian moviemakers are having secret meetings to find solutions. One cunning plan is to set more stories in the colonial era, so that all evil can be blamed on Europeans.
If these secret rules kill creativity in the East Asian movie industry, rival moviemakers will prosper.
Indian movies remain free of political censorship, I heard from Tokyo-based film fan Chaminda da Silva. “But the trouble is Indian movies are all destroyed by the insertion of six songs, ten fights, and fifteen-minute deathbed speeches,” he said.
What a choice. To paraphrase a famous quote: When it comes to Asian movies, the hero of the film really is the poor schmuck in the audience who sits through it.