Top 10 Chinese films in 2011

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, January 23, 2012
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8. Kuiba

Many have bemoaned the lack of sophistication, imagination and creativity in cartoons, as well as their boring lecturing, weak storylines and ridiculous character settings. There may, however, be hope.

"Kuiba", the 35-million-yuan (US$5.4 million) original Chinese animated feature film from veteran Beijing-based television studio Vassoon Animation, is China's latest attempt to showcase its homegrown cartoon talent. For Chinese people, the story of "Kuiba" is unique but familiar; what's more, the film's release could be a watershed event in the history of Chinese animation.

The plot centers around a monkey-boy named Manji who struggles to be a hero whilst fighting his inner demons. Eight script writers spent six years refining the story, building a completely new fictional world with its own nations and diverse bio-systems, much like the alternate universes created for J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" or George Lucas's "Star Wars".

The film's Japanese anime styling may have caused some controversy, but Vassoon's sincere and mature effort has touched the hearts of many viewers and critics. For the first time, a Chinese animated feature is targeting general audiences, not just young kids. The film not only carries inspiring themes, such as courage, perseverance, and self-discovery, but also explores the relationship of father and son and comments on various social issues. The storyline is tight and breathtaking, and should resonate with Chinese and foreign audiences alike.

Despite this, however, "Kuiba" has taken a disappointing 3.5 million yuan at the box office, with most of the blame being heaped on poor marketing strategy, theater screening schedules and so on. The film was actually promoted on the street by those directly involved in its making, rather than relying on the efforts of the distribution company, as is customary. An online debate ensued in which people discussed how Chinese animations should be made, supported and then promoted. After losing its commercial battle, "Kuiba" surprisingly started to generate a diehard online following, and with the film's producers claiming that lessons have been learned, there may yet be more to come from a franchise that was originally slated to be a five-episode series.

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