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Assembly most popular with Chinese audiences
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About 86 percent Chinese of audiences have given a high rating to the new year blockbuster Assembly, which is unprecedented among the country's holiday hits, according to a survey by the China Film Association.

The previous best-liked film was the Hollywood action hit King Kong with a 73.5 percent approval rating in the association's annual survey. The latest survey is the fourth.

The survey, the core of an in-depth report on China's film market, sent 1,000 questionnaires to 20 large cinemas nationwide starting on Dec. 20.

Unlike previous holiday hits, which ranged from joyous cliches to the dark humor of Assembly director Feng Xiaogang's other films, Assembly is a human drama about a soldier of a People's Liberation Army unit during the civil war in the 1940s. The soldier, once a company commander, devoted his entire life to redeeming the honor of fellow soldiers who are declared missing in action.

Some 73.5 percent of respondents said it was a heart-warming film, and 99 percent said they were not disappointed by Feng's new project.

"All the characters were hardly acting. Everything in the film seemed so real," said filmgoer Dang Guohui, mentioning a friend's father who was a soldier at that time and who broke into tears when the company commander in the film started speaking.

"He kept saying, 'it was all so real ... their clothes ... their words ... even the company commander's bad temper was exactly the same.'"

Professor Yin Hong of Tsinghua University said: "Assembly has set an example for all the country's mainstream blockbusters."

Rao Shuguang, with the China Film Art Research Center, agreed, saying that Assembly could set a direction for Chinese movies.

Besides the overwhelming praise from fans and critics, Assembly has also done great box office. In its first nine days, the film has raked in more than 130 million yuan (16 million U.S. dollars), which was the total gross of Feng's last ambitious ancient epic, The Banquet.

The survey results, released on Thursday, are preliminary and a more comprehensive result is expected in February. The survey included Wong Kar Wai's star-studded My Blueberry Night and others.

The previous masterpieces of the bankable 50-year-old Feng include Big Shot's Funeral (2001), Cell Phone (2003), A World without Thieves (2004) and The Banquet (2007).

(Xinhua News Agency December 31, 2007)

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