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Let’s quote the reviewer of arte-tv, who happened to see the film almost at the same time as I did: “Chen Kaige, der sich für die schulmäßige Produktion ‘Lebe wohl, meine Konkubine’ (1993) noch im Ruhm der Goldenen Palme sonnen konnte, scheint mit diesem fürchterlich hässlichen und armseligen Monumentalepos seinen absoluten Tiefpunkt erreicht zu haben.” Meaning: it’s disgusting rubbish, a waste of money, fortunately not of talent, as there is none to be found… my own interpretation. But the picture gets clearer when you realise that the most expensive picture mainland China has over put out is still only around 35 Mil. Dollars, meaning that all of the technical stuff, the cgi and mattes and whatever is around needed to be bought at cheap suppliers in God knows where – or produced in-house, in China. As with most more sophisticated technological ventures, the result becomes apparent: It claims to be basically the same as the “real’ stuff (the Lord of the Rings or Matrix stuff), but you see immediately that all of it is nothing but the plastic variety of
the original. Special effects is nothing you can just copy, you have to know it – and the places where people know are far away from Beijing and very expensive, too.
Even more expensive are good scripts, because you cannot just go out and buy them, even if you had unlimited amounts of money. Shame is that when you try to run for Oscar material “in the style of….” (Tiger Dragon, in particular), you are stuck to a certain kind of narrative, even if
you don’t know what story to tell. So WuJi is the result of a gigantic effort to shove offical Chinese cinema on a global plattform (including forcing the film on all Chinese screens for a while), with the result of Ang Lee running for Oscars with his little love story (banned in mainland China) and Chen KaiGe defintitely not running for anything, maybe away from the critiques. Sounds fair enogh.

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