Reflections on a Wandering Life.....

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Maria, Melissa and I went to the IMAX over by People's University to see Kung Fu Panda last night. Really a hit in China right now. Last Sunday morning, I was watching Dialogue, and Yang Rui was asking some folks in the movie industry, "What can we say if Hollywood does a better job of presenting Chinese values to the world." It's a fair question, but in fact, I think the fifth generation of movie directors in China have actually done the best job presenting the best of Chinese values. The problem is that their movies were not hits. Zhang Yimou and Chen Kai-ge were clearly influenced by the success of Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon in the States, which is unfortunate, because they both left off making good drama about life in China during difficult times, and moved to making action movies. My point is that the best movies are not always the most popular movies. I took Melissa to see Chen Kai-ge's Together at a theater in Scottsdale, Arizona before I came to China. That is a powerful film, but very few know it. There were three other people in the theater that evening.

But Kung Fu Panda is a good movie, no question about that. I am not really a fan of kung fu movies. Truth is, I really don't go much for macho flicks of any kind, because even though they are not animated in the technical sense, like this one was, they are still really cartoons in every other sense of the word. Fantasy. Real people--I mean the real hero's that are an example to us and help us (by their example) to bring the right frame of mind to difficult times--do not solve their problems by magically jumping over them. The characters in Zhang Yimou's movies (I mean the old ones) deal with the situations of life by suffering through them. There is just something so much more wholesome about a drama that shows the dynamic of suffering in difficulty, and the anguish of heart that real people feel in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

But I did like this movie. The reason, I guess, is because the movie was not a classic "macho flick" by any means. The hero was unlikely. Likeable, to be sure, but unlikely. That's real. David and Goliath. And the whole thing was presented in a setting of humor. And it was creative and original. I have become quite weary of sequels. If they come out with a Kung Fu Panda II, I won't go see it. But I might see this one again.

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