'Gone with the Bullets' receives mixed responses

(English.news.cn/China.org.cn)
Updated: 2014-12-16 14:40:50

Actor Ge You (R) kisses hand of actress Shu Qi at the world premiere of "Gone with the Bullets" in Beijing, capital of China, on Dec 15, 2014. World premiere of director Jiang Wen's new movie "Gone with the Bullets" was held in Beijing yesterday. [Photo/Xinhuanet.com]

One of the most anticipated movies of the year, "Gone with the Bullets," held its late but still grand world premiere in Beijing on Monday. The film received lukewarm and mixed responses after the screening.

"Gone with the Bullets," directed by top Chinese actor-director Jiang Wen and produced by Beijing Bu Yi Le Hu Film Company, was originally scheduled for a lavish premiere on Dec 8. However, on Dec 7, serious drama occurred when Chinese censors slammed the filmmakers with demands to adjust or blur some explicit lines and scenes related to sex and possibly to politically sensitive concepts.

The premiere had to be delayed. The producers and studios spent at least another two million yuan per week in order to keep the venue ready and on standby. The whole movie went back to the cutting room to receive more adjustments and alter dubbings until China's film censors were satisfied and gave final approval. Producers promised that the adjustments were minor, and the running time of the film remained the same at 2 hours and 20 minutes.

Chinese director and actor Jiang Wen, left, poses with his actress wife Zhou Yun on the red carpet for the premiere of their new movie "Gone with the Bullets" in Beijing, Dec 15, 2014. [Photo/IC]

"Gone with the Bullets," set in 1920s Shanghai, is based on a true story. The movie begins with a scene mimicking the opening scene of "The Godfather," in which main characters Ma Zouri (Jiang Wen), Xiang Feitian (Ge You) and Wu Qi (Wen Zhang) are discussing how to establish a beauty pageant called the "Flowers Competition" in order to launder money.

Later, all of the world's elite attend this live-broadcast gala event, but when Wanyan Ying (Shu Qi) unexpectedly wins, it triggers a series of tragic events that changes the characters' destinies. Ma causes Wanyan Ying's death and is then hunted down by police, all while the drama of Wu Liu (Zhou Yun)'s love for him unfolds.

"'Gone with the Bullets' has all kinds of craziness, all kinds of irony, all kinds of flirtations, all kinds of homages and an unscrupulous evolution... it is the most entertaining movie made by Jiang thus far," top film critic Raymond Zhou, also a writer for China Daily, wrote.

Others found the "crazy motion picture fun mess is overdone by an arrogant director afflicted by super narcissism lacking in emotional depth."

Director Jiang Wen(L) waves his hand while walking on the red carpet with actress Zhou Yun (R) at the world premiere of "Gone with the Bullets" in Beijing, capital of China, on Dec 15, 2014. World premiere of director Jiang Wen's new movie "Gone with the Bullets" was held in Beijing yesterday. [Photo/Xinhuanet.com]

Given all the high anticipation, the film was quite a letdown. After the movie ended and the credits started rolling, some audience members whispered that they didn't like or understand the movie. There was indeed another round of applause, but it was lukewarm and less loud than the applause that echoed at the beginning of the film.

Soon, social media exploded with a profusion of negative comments from viewers who attended the event, contrasting with the previous rave reviews issued a week ago by Jiang's friends and collaborators in showbiz.

"Zhang Yimou has a film called 'A Simple Noodle Story,' Feng Xiaogang has a film called 'Personal Tailor,' Chen Kaige has a film called 'The Promise,' and now Jiang Wen has a film called 'Gone with the Bullets,'" one blogger wrote, referring to the most famous Chinese directors' worst works.

The film, which has huge ambitions to set new standards and box office records in Chinese movie history, will be hitting Chinese cinemas nationwide on Dec 18. The producers said the film had already grossed nearly 300 million yuan (US$48.41 million) in Internet presales before its official nationwide debut.

Actress Hong Huang (R, 1) poses with young actresses on the red carpet at the world premiere of "Gone with the Bullets" in Beijing, capital of China, on Dec 15, 2014. World premiere of director Jiang Wen's new movie "Gone with the Bullets" was held in Beijing yesterday. [Photo/Xinhuanet.com]

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