By Pang Li & Keen Zhang
China's film market started to mature in 2007. In 2008, as we start to look back at the whole year, we see cinema's growing popularity, and a film industry breakthrough in the field of small to medium-budget films. Directors were not flocking to make blockbusters or exotic art-house films hoping for a nomination in the Oscar foreign language award category, while ignoring the real demands of the public. Of course, China's film industry needs the occasional blockbuster, and some have been imported from Hollywood. But the truth is that a strong Chinese film market should see a boom in medium-budget mainstream movies, not just a few blockbusters with the sort of astronomical spend that gives their investors sleepless nights. In 2008, Chinese directors finally came to the understanding that chasing visual effects and spectacular scenes may not be what counts most. What's important is to present a good and convincing plot; otherwise even a Hollywood film will fail. Many did so in 2008. Some did not.
Top 10 movies in China 2008
10. The Painted Skin
The Painted Skin, directed by Gordon Chan and starring Zhou Xun, Zhao Wei, Chen Kun and Donnie Yen, is actually a moderate film with the shell of a horror ghost story from Chinese literary classic Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio. In essence The Painted Skin is a family ethical and moral drama full of individual conflicts and dilemmas.
The film had a moderate budget too, but produced huge box office returns due to great marketing and a shortage of such films in this category. Together with some excellent low-budget films like The Equation of Love & Death and Set Off, which won both critical and box office success, The Painted Skin represent a new departure for the Chinese film industry.