PIGPEN CINEMA Presents SALT OF THE EARTH

Tue. 24 May, 2016
Doors open 9 | Movie starts 9:30
65 Maoming Bei Lu (Weihai Lu/Yan’an Lu)
Drink specials: beer|wine|cocktails
Free “Grumpy” movie popcorn
Only 35 seats
First come first serve policy

For the last 40 years, the photographer Sebastião Salgado has been travelling through the continents, in the footsteps of an ever-changing humanity. He has witnessed some of the major events of our recent history; international conflicts, starvation and exodus. He is now embarking on the discovery of pristine territories, of wild fauna and flora, and of grandiose landscapes as part of a huge photographic project, which is a tribute to the planet’s beauty.

Sebastião Salgado’s life and work are revealed to us by his son, Juliano, who went with him during his last travels, and by Wim Wenders, himself a photographer.

British Invasion

The 2012 release of Xu Zheng’s Lost in Thailand marked the beginning of a period of explosive growth in the Chinese movie industry. This year Stephen Chow’s The Mermaid became the highest grossing film in domestic box office history and the first to take over RMB 3 billion (over US$500 million). Box office takings in 2015 totaled US$6.8 billion, a 48.7 percent year-on-year increase. That figure is expected to keep growing, with the number of cinema screens set to increase from 32,000 to 53,000 by 2017.

Po-01Posters of The Mermaid & Lost in Thailand

Chinese companies are mobilising to create content to feed the monster. Alongside expanding production by state-run powers such as China Film Group, behemoths from other industries such as Alibaba and Tencent have established film divisions, and in some cases are making massive investments in to productions. Most notable is Wanda’s US$4.9 billion Oriental Movie Metropolis, currently under construction in Qingdao.

MMetroWanda Picture Oriental Movie Metropolis

A glance at the list of hit movies clearly demonstrates the Chinese audience’s hunger for big visual effect (VFX) driven spectaculars.  To give their products the best chance of box office success, moviemakers are increasingly seeking higher quality computer generated magic, no matter where in the world the providers may be based.

The UK, with one of the world’s strongest VFX industries, is looking to capitalise on the China opportunity. Since the late 1980s, the UK government has been instrumental in developing the sector by offering tax credits for studios that bring their productions to Britain.  Concentrated almost exclusively in one square mile in Soho, London’s post-production houses provide effects for the biggest movies on the planet, both from Hollywood and the domestic market.

War and Peace_Napoleon_after_BBWar and Peace, VFX by BlueBolt

The UK industry is taking steps to explore the potential for collaboration with Chinese content creators.  In one recent initiative, the government-supported British Film Commission, in partnership with the China Britain Business Council and the UKTI, brought three leading British visual effects companies to Beijing for the UK-China VFX Forum, a day of presentations and discussion between founding members of Framestore, BlueBolt and Union and a handful of China’s most powerful film companies.

Game of Thrones VFX breakdowns, by BlueBolt

Though UK-China collaboration on movies has so far remained limited, some UK VFX companies have already begun working with China in other opportunity areas.  MPC, one of the UK’s ‘big three’ houses along with Framestore and Double Negative, opened a facility in Shanghai in 2015, their tenth office worldwide, to capitalize on China’s flourishing TV commercial market.  Additionally, the scores of theme parks being built in China is creating demand for media for attractions.  Framestore is currently collaborating with Wanda on a ride for their numerous parks around China.

War and Peace_army marching_before_BBWar and Peace_army marching_after_BBBefore and after scene from War and Peace, VFX by BlueBolt

Price presents one of the biggest challenges for potential partnerships. World-class talent and high London rents means UK VFX companies must charge a premium rate beyond the budgets of most Chinese studios. 

Fundamental differences in culture and business practices are also problematic. Chinese production schedules tend to be even tighter than those in the West, with financiers notoriously impatient to see films finished, released and a return on investment.  Then there is the language barrier and an eight-hour time difference complicating daily production. 

Guardians of the Galaxy, VFX by Framestore

Skilled producers, experienced in dealing with Western VFX vendors are essential but, given that collaboration with Europe is a new business model, such individuals are in short supply. “It’s on the burden of the production to manage international vendors. That’s what filmmakers and studios don’t get yet,” says John Dietz, a Beijing-based VFX producer and supervisor with 15 film credits in China, and founder of BangBang, a Chinese company that manages VFX and technology for local film productionsHe continues, “In China we tend to think that you hire a vendor and they just figure it all out, but that’s exactly what causes and fuels a mood from both sides [feeling] that it can’t work.”

Hg019065HmasterCompv119qcc0330Avatar, VFX by Framestore

There is no easy solution. Local producers need time to grow in experience, while UK companies must be open-minded, flexible and understanding in how they approach projects with Chinese studios. Chinese film studios will need to stop settling for ‘good enough’ and make world-class visual effects a priority, and allocate budgets accordingly.

One option for UK companies may be to establish a studio on the ground in China, though committing to working in China requires significant time as well as financial investment. Operating as a front office and doing the work remotely around the world has proven to be a flawed strategy, exemplified by the closure of several foreign post houses in the last four years.

Bastille Day VFX breakdown, by Union VFX

Jinhaian Films director and producer Liu Xiaoguang, speaking at the UK-China VFX Forum, was blunt in his assessment, “It’s very different here. We make CG and use the same software, but those are the only things we have in common [with the UK industry].” He warns those setting up in China to “be prepared to suffer for at least five years.”

bastille_157_050_beforebastille_157_050_afterBefore and after scene from Bastille Day, VFX by Union VFX

John Dietz on the other hand, is optimistic. He is currently working with a UK shop on his next movie and predicts a gradual positive evolution. “There will be lots more UK-China collaboration; it’s about experience – little by little,” he says. “Both sides will just need to go through some growing pains. It takes a lot of work to make a VFX film and to work through cultural, business, language and experience differences. The producers need to understand that. When it gets hard, both sides need to work through it, not get defensive and point figures,” he continues. “If they really want to make it work, they will.”


本文由China Britain Business FOCUS 2016年4月刊一篇文章改写而成。

This article is adapted from a piece first published in China Britain Business FOCUS, April 2016.

INTRODUCING…

Stampa

Stampa

PIGPEN CINEMA Presents BANKSY DOES NEW YORK

Tue. 24 May, 2016
Doors open 9 | Movie starts 9:30
65 Maoming Bei Lu (Weihai Lu/Yan’an Lu)
Drink specials: beer|wine|cocktails
Free “Grumpy” movie popcorn
Only 35 seats
First come first serve policy

October 2013, when infamous street artist Banksy revealed his New York City residency, he set off a daily scavenger hunt among curious fans, would-be art collectors and, of course, the police. With camera phones at the ready, everyone wanted a piece of his ephemeral works before they were destroyed—or removed for profit. Chris Moukarbel tracks the course of Banksy’s secretly created public works from the Lower East Side to Staten Island, Williamsburg to Willets Point, and explores the unprecedented speed of the public’s reaction.

Chinese Burn

What began as a gathering of 12 friends on the beach in 1986 has since grown into a 70,000-strong annual extravaganza in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert.  The weeklong experiment in art and community sees a mass migration deep into the scorching wilderness, the construction of a vast encampment dotted with towering wooden sculptures, and a carnival of raw human expression culminating in an apocalyptic blaze.  But as any ‘burner’ will tell you, it’s impossible to explain Burning Man.  To truly understand it, it must be experienced. 

Tea Ceremony 1-X3

Burning Man 2015

A growing number of these burners are attempting to recreate that experience in various locations worldwide.  Shanghai’s Dragon Burn was launched in 2014 by a group of experienced burners led by Sven Aarne, one of the 80-odd participants in 1987 at the second ever ‘Burning Man’ on the beach in San Francisco.  Burning Man’s relationship with the Middle Kingdom first began in 2004, when it featured a Chinese Speakers Tea Party for Chinese attendees to gather in the Nevada desert, a tradition that has continued every year since. 

B2015

Burning Man 2015

Physically, Dragon Burn bears no resemblance to its Nevada counterpart.  300 people in a park with built-in amenities is a far cry from the hordes that populate the unforgiving Nevada desert, and Shanghai burners will (probably) find no ‘mutant vehicles’, orgies or nudity in Anji this year.  What connects it, and other affiliated events, with Burning Man, and differentiates it from other conventional festivals, is ten guiding principles.  Free of commercial interests (decommodification), the cashless communes necessitate self-reliance and a system of gifting, while ‘leave no trace’ dictates no litter or scars should be left on the site after the event. Inclusiveness is mandatory and self-expression central, whether that is to create art, hug a stranger, or just get high and sprinkle someone with glitter.

Burning Man 2013

Burning Man 2013

As such, Dragon Burn features no sponsors, no cash on-site and all money from ticket sales will go to grants for art installations, administrative costs and the 12-foot dragon effigy that will be constructed by a team of volunteers and incinerated on the last night.  Burners will bring their own food, drink at a free bar and can enjoy free massages, yoga or any of the other workshops provided by fellow community members.

0fc700dfdf10160e177315abf56eea79

Burning Man 2015

Aarne acknowledges that transferring and upholding the ten principles in a new territory, especially one as commercially-driven and environmentally indifferent as China, poses challenges, but believes it is a cause worth undertaking, “When people are no longer surrounded by money and commerce, they change. Those moments are precious and the founding volunteers of Dragon Burn are trying to share that unique interaction with the people that attend.  Our goals are to hold events where cell phones and selfies are useless, where your experience is personal and treasured.” 

Burning-Man-Last-Day-Night (151 of 1120)-1682x1152

Burning Man 2015

Dragon Burn has been gathering momentum since launching in 2014.  This year, half of the tickets have already been sold without any marketing, submissions to construct art installations have risen to 70 up from 15 last year, and there are plans to construct more small stages to accommodate the extra volunteer DJs.  Organisers are seeking to shift the balance away from the previous foreigner dominated events by attracting a larger Chinese contingent, an aim that should be aided by a growing awareness of the Burning Man philosophy through Chinese social media. 

2013

Burning Man 2013

Dragon Burn may be incomparable with its US forefather, but remains one of the more unique among the recent wave of festivals to hit China, particularly as it is expressly non-profit.  It will be interesting to see how the principles resonate with the increasing number of Chinese burners and how large the movement is able to grow in the coming years.

Burning-Man-Day-3-Part-B (1098 of 1531)-2850x1894

Burning Man 2015

The Ten Principles

  1. Radical Inclusion: Welcoming and respecting the stranger.  Anyone may participate.
  2. Gifting: Instead of cash, participants are encouraged to rely on a gift economy.
  3. Decommodification: Creating social environments without commercial sponsorships, transactions, or advertising. No cash transactions are permitted.
  4. Radical self-reliance: Encouraging the individual to discover, exercise and rely on his or her inner resources. Participants must bring all their own supplies.
  5. Radical self-expression: Encouraging self-expression through various art forms and projects. The event is clothing-optional and public nudity is common.
  6. Communal effort: Valuing creative cooperation and collaboration and striving to produce, promote and protect social networks, public spaces and works of art.
  7. Civic responsibility: Assuming responsibility for public welfare and endeavoring to communicate civic responsibilities to participants.
  8. Leaving no trace: Committing to leaving no physical trace after the event.
  9. Participation: Encouraging deep personal participation to help achieve transformative change.
  10. Immediacy: Overcoming inter-personal barriers, recognition of inner selves and reality of others, participation in society, and contact with the natural world.

The Great Heads-X2

Burning Man 2015

 

Information

13047839_657117111112369_167766397999926629_o

China’s Leftover Women

An evocative new film from cosmetics brand SK-II, produced by US production company TOOL of North America, and locally by PIG China, directed by Floyd Russ with creative ideas and strategy by agency Forsman & Bodenfors, highlights an emotionally charged phenomenon permeating modern Chinese society.  The film, which has received over 1 million views on Youku within 24 hours of its initial release, uncovers the plight of ‘leftover’ women – a term that has come into common usage in China in recent years to describe unmarried women – and challenges the unforgiving attitudes of their overbearing parents.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 19.19.16

China’s development steam train has brought immeasurable benefits but left a wake of social problems, including a chasm in values between conservative parents and their grown up children. This means having a career, being independent and choosing one’s own destiny, combined with the influence of western culture in which the sanctity of marriage continues to be eroded, has led to a major shift in attitude among China’s Generation Y.

thumb1

Their parents however, raised in deeply conservative times, hold a staunch set of contrasting beliefs. Marriage is a central tenet of the all-important family unit. For them, it is not possible that a daughter could be happy, or sufficiently well off to lead a comfortable life without a husband, something she will find increasingly difficult to find after the age of twenty-five, when she will be deemed ‘over the hill’. Filial piety, a cornerstone of traditional Chinese values, dictates that your parents’ wishes and beliefs should be respected. They have been selfless in raising the child and it is the duty of the grown up child to pay them back.

Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 19.19.41People’s Park ‘Marriage Market’, Shanghai

The results of this generational divide are bizarre and depressing. A booming matchmaking industry plays out alongside ‘marriage markets’ across the country, regular gatherings at which parents and grandparents shop their unwed offspring around like animals at a farmers market. Parents worry themselves sick and place blame on the child. Desperation to see their daughter marry leads to unhappy relationships and a soaring divorce rate.

While it is unlikely that a single film will effect any change in the deeply embedded attitudes of Chinese parents, the already buzzing discourse online confirms that this is a real issue for millions of women across China. Hopefully bringing the problem into the spotlight and sharing their experiences can provide China’s single women with some measure of relief.

Credits:

  • Client: SK-II
  • Advertisers Supervisor: Kylene Campos
  • Advertisers Supervisor Titel: Brand Director, Global SK-II
  • Creative Agency: Forsman & Bodenfors
  • Account Supervisor: Susanna Fagring
  • Account Manager: Linda Tiderman
  • Art Director: Sophia Lindholm, Karina Ullensvang
  • Copywriter: Tove Eriksen Hillblom
  • Designer: Christian Sundén
  • Planner: My Troedsson
  • PR Strategist: Amat Levin
  • Agency Producer, Film/Digital: Alexander Blidner (film), Peter Gaudiano (digital)
  • Production company: Tool
  • Postproduction: Cut n Run
  • Media/PR agency (inkl. adress etc): BeOn
  • Director: Floyd Russ
  • Producer: Mary Church
  • Music: Victor Magro / Future Perfect Music 
  • Exec producer: Robert Helphand
  • D.O.P: Jacob Moller
  • Editor: Robert Ryang
  • Sound: Cut n Run

Queer is Here

ShanghaiPRIDE Film Festival programmer Mathew Baren on establishing a queer film festival in China

“Chinese queer experience is different, but probably not in the way you would think,” explains Matthew Baren, festival programmer for ShanghaiPRIDE Film Festival 2016. “It’s about dispelling misconceptions. Of course they face many problems, but they have different problems for different reasons. In Europe and North America, much of the difficulties that queer people face are because of religion in society, which isn’t really a factor here. Here it’s more about family, even to the point where someone can come out but still be expected to get married, have kids and continue the family line.”

ShanghaiPRIDE launched in 2009 but it wasn’t until 2015 that Baren and colleague Alvin Li introduced a formal film festival element. The aim, he explains, is to give a voice to underrepresented queer filmmakers in China, “LGBT stories still very often tend to be about white men, but there are some amazing stories coming from China that deserve to be heard.”

ShPFF_opening_023

Alvin Li (ShPFF Festival Coordinator & Events), Desmond Loh (Producer, Stink), Cheng Pei Pei (actress), masamojo (filmmakers) and Matthew Baren (ShPFF Festival Coordinator & Programmer) at ShPFF 2015 award ceremony

Moreover, entering the short film competition gives filmmakers access to ShPFF’s network of festival programmers worldwide. Last year’s winning film, A Straight Journey: Days and Nights in Their Kingdom is testament to that.   The 22-minute portrait of 48 gay people and their families in 11 cities across China by Beijing photographers masamojo premiered at ShPFF 2015 and has gone on to feature in festivals in Beijing, Taiwan, Europe and the US.

masamojo’s “A Straight Journey: Days and Nights in Their Kingdom”

Like masamojo’s film, Baren notes a tendency in Chinese queer film toward real stories, compared to the fictional narratives common to those from the west, “I think that’s kind of a dynamic of Chinese independent or DIY filming. People are shooting with their DV camera the things they see on the streets on a day to day basis.”

Though homosexuality was legalised in China in 1997 and attitudes in society are gradually becoming more open-minded, China’s gay community still faces challenges. For China’s LGBT activists, filmmaking is an important tool for bringing issues to light. In one recent landmark case, filmmaker Fan Popo last year sued the State Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film, and Television (SAPPRFT) for allegedly demanding that Chinese video streaming sites take his documentary about the mothers of gay children, ‘Mama Rainbow’, offline. SAPPRFT denied ever sending such a request and Fan won the case, but restrictions on queer content do not appear to be easing.

‘Mama Rainbow’ by Fan Popo

Events like ShPFF and the Love Queer Cinema Week (formerly Beijing Queer Film Festival), the country’s longest running gay film festival founded in 2001, tend to favour bars and venues provided by international consulates as opposed to official state-approved cinemas. Baren suggests that such intimate environments help encourage another of the festivals key objectives: dialogue and discussion. “As much as it is about watching great movies and supporting filmmakers, it is a forum in which people can share their ideas and their knowledge.

The theme running through this year’s programme is gender, addressing issues affecting transgender, non-binary and agender people. Gender minorities are often the most marginalised within our community. They don’t have legal protection in the workplace or housing, they are more likely to receive abuse, there are fewer spaces for them,” explains Baren. “We want the festival this year to be a space where trans voices can be heard, and where people can educate themselves.”

ShPFF 2016 trailer

This year’s festival builds on a successful inaugural year, which saw one of China’s best-loved movie stars, Cheng Pei Pei, attend the festival’s China mainland premiere of Lilting, the British film in which she starred alongside Ben Whishaw. An array of established directors such as Beijing Queer Film Festival founder Cui Zi’en and producer Desmond Loh from Stink Shanghai made up the experienced jury. Judges this year include Lilting director and BAFTA award nominee Hong Khaou, and Kit Hung, the filmmaker best known for Teddy Award nominated Soundless Wind Chime. The winning film will be entered into contention for the UK’s Iris Prize, with a top prize of £30,000 towards the director’s next project.

Lilting1Cheng Pei Pei and Ben Whishaw in Hong Khaou’s “Lilting”

  • ShanghaiPRIDE Film Festival runs from 17-26th June.  Submission for the ShPFF Short film competition closes April 15th.  Click here for more details.
  • ShanghaiPRIDE 2016 runs from June 17-26th.  Click here for more details.
  • ShanghaiPRIDE Film Festival runs a monthly underground queer cinema night, Catch their next event on April 7th at Craft (5 Donghu Lu), 8.30pm, Free entry

Print

 

PIGPEN CINEMA Presents Michael Jackson: Journey from Motown to OFF THE WALL

Tue. Apr 19, 2016
Doors open 9 | Movie starts 9:30
65 Maoming Bei Lu (Weihai Lu/Yan’an Lu)
Drink specials: beer|wine|cocktails
Free “Grumpy” movie popcorn
Only 35 seats
First come first serve policy

“Director Spike Lee documents an in-depth look into the evolution of The King of Pop, Michael Jackson, and the cultural significance – and lasting impact – of his seminal first album as an adult, ‘off the wall.’”

WeChat is killing my baby!

Following email inventor Ray Tomlinson’s death last week, we ask if WeChat’s irresistible rise could spell doom in China for his 1971 brainchild.

1125

Email’s fortunes in China have been dictated by the tides of technological change. By the time China was permanently connected to the Internet in 1994, instant messaging services like OICQ (the original name of QQ) were available and readily adopted.  The relatively few personal email addresses created were usually unappealing and unmemorable sequences of random numbers.  The torrent of smartphones that flooded the market in the late 2000s gave the Chinese a platform on which to exert their penchant for instant messaging.  The rapid rise of Tencent’s WeChat app saw generation after generation embrace text and voice messaging, all the way up to the elderly, most of whom had never had an email address.

These days WeChat has firmly established its supremacy, exposing many of emails shortcomings in the process.  Where email once replaced paper mail for its speed, WeChat is faster still.  Where email inboxes have become crammed with spam, WeChat organises desired bulletins into a tidy subscription section.  Where email was acclaimed as a non-invasive alternative to a phone call, WeChat voice messaging offers a personal touch and listening at leisure. Whereas an email address was once required to sign up for services like online banking, flight booking or topping up mobile credit, WeChat requires just a phone number and debit card to make use of all these services and more.

email-send-ss-1920

Though email did gain traction in business throughout China’s boom years, internal and inter-company communications are increasingly taking place via WeChat.  Documents, films and files are sent and opened on the phone or desktop site. Though anachronistic paper business cards are clinging on, QR code scanning means you potentially may never know a contact’s email.  Instead of long email chains with multiple colleagues on cc, WeChat groups can be handily saved as an address book contact, with the @ function directly alerting desired recipients.  Most significantly, WeChat conversations are beginning to be saved, archived and trusted as legally liable records.

There is, however, still confusion to clear before email is consigned permanently to the recycle bin.  WeChat’s broad functionality has seen it pervade all aspects of personal and professional life and the boundaries have become blurry.  In most businesses, WeChat has not yet been ratified as an official business tool.  Checking your mobile at work was once a sure sign of slacking.  Is it now a job requirement?  With the boss alongside friends in your address book, it is unclear when the working day ends and social time begins.

6b53c7250e

Communication itself can also suffer.  Whereas an email chain is understood to be a professional exchange, work discussion in WeChat groups can succumb to the casual attitude we apply to social conversations on the same app, while important memos are easily missed in the constant deluge from a heaving address book and subscription accounts.

Interestingly, the tools responsible for the death of Tomlinson’s creation – Facebook, Twitter and WeChat – have appropriated the iconic @ symbol that he bestowed upon his creation.  When Tomlinson meet his invention, he may take some comfort that his will not die, rather be reincarnated.

Stephen Chow & Hong Kong Mo Lei Tau Comedy

During the 1990s, Stephen Chow’s name became synonymous with a unique comedy genre known as mo lei tau.  Though his recent movies retain many of the elements of his earlier work, the director is consciously moving away from the genre that made his name.

Stephen Chow

Stephen Chow is one of Hong Kong and China’s best loved comic actors and directors.  His new film, The Mermaid, has broken all major China box office records including biggest opening day, single day gross and opening week of all time, ultimately becoming the highest-grossing film ever in China and the first to join the ‘3-billion-yuan club’.  Whilst the success can be partly attributed to both the growing number of cinema screens across the country and the movie’s timely release to span two major holidays, the crucial catalyst is Chow’s enduring popularity.

Chow started out as a television comic actor in the late 1980s before getting his break in the 1990 movie All for the Winner.  The subsequent wave of movies in which he starred, and sometimes wrote and directed, would become known as mo lei tau comedies and came to define the proceeding decade in Hong Kong moviemaking.  The popularity of these movies saw Chow become Hong Kong’s leading comic actor and, alongside Chow Yun-fat and Jackie Chan, the major box office draw of the period.

Mo Lei Tau

Mo lei tau comes from the Cantonese phrase mo lei tau gau, which literally means ‘cannot differentiate between head and tail’, but is more commonly translated as ‘coming from nowhere’ or, more simply, ‘makes no sense’.  The term describes a wave of lowbrow, anarchic and absurd movies that satirized society, flagrantly disregarding filmmaking and narrative rules such as the fourth wall.  Whilst slapstick humour is central to the genre, it is perhaps most notable for its wild wordplay and creative license with the Cantonese language.

Video Clip from A Chinese Odyssey Part Two – Cinderella (1995)

Video Clip from King of Comedy (1999)

Though the term ‘mo lei tau’ wasn’t coined until Chow’s emergence, linguistic elements can be traced back to the Hui Brothers, a prolific Hong Kong moviemaking trio in the late 1970s.  Jackie Chan’s slapstick Kung Fu roles in the 1980s continued the evolution, before Chow became the figurehead for mo lei tau films in the 1990s.

The reasons the genre emerged, flourished and became intrinsic to Hong Kong popular culture are tied to the sociopolitical climate of the time.  The previous century had been a period of upheaval and transformation as Hong Kong grew from scattered fishing villages into a densely populated commercial hub, fuelled by an influx of migrants fleeing the political and economic difficulties on the mainland.  By the early 70s, Hong Kong’s formerly immigrant population was beginning to seek and embrace its own, native cultural identity.  A key element of that identity was language.  In a nation where the youth spoke Cantonese but were made to learn and write in English and Mandarin, Chow’s wild abandon with linguistic conventions provided them with a new vernacular, that excluded non-Cantonese speakers, and which they could call their own. 

Mandarin & The Mermaid

打印

Poster from The Mermaid

Whilst the Stephen Chow’s films have been edging stylistically away from mo lei tau since 2004’s Kung Fu Hustle, they have still relied heavily on the key elements of the genre.  The most significant departure began with 2013’s Journey To The West: Conquering The Demons, which saw Chow understandably embrace Mandarin to include and appeal to the enormous mainland audience.  The decision goes against one of the fundamental tenets of the genre as a tool of defiance and consolation, exclusive to Cantonese youth. In this sense, whilst The Mermaid is an accomplished addition to Chow’s body of work, it seems that he has, for now, left mo lei tau behind.