A Ja­panese film based on the Parasyte series makes a rare en­try, Xu Fan re­ports.

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE -

Many Chi­nese movie buffs’ first reaction upon hear­ing that the Ja­panese movie Parasyte will be screened across the Chi­nese main­land was: “Re­ally?”

Writ­ten and il­lus­trated by Hi­toshi Iwaaki, the Parasyte manga series of sci-fi hor­ror was orig­i­nally pub­lished in mag­a­zines from 1988 to 1995, and more re­cently adapted into two live-ac­tion films.

The series tells the story of a teenage boy’s fight against worm­like crea­tures that want to cap­ture the hu­man brain— and the Ja­panese films con­tain a num­ber of bloody scenes. But the cre­ator’s imag­i­na­tion and the series’ in­tro­spec­tion on such top­ics as en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion have helped the films to win crit­i­cal ac­claim.

The film pre­miered on the Chi­nese main­land on Sept 2. It com­bines the two Parasyte films re­leased in Ja­pan in 2014 and 2015.

For­eign hor­ror films are rarely screened in­China as the top reg­u­la­tor for the sec­tor is usu­ally un­com­fort­able with con­tent that shows ex­ces­sive vi­o­lence.

EDKO Films Ltd, a Hong Kong-based com­pany that is help­ing with the dis­tri­bu­tion of Parasyte on the Chi­nese main­land, says it ne­go­ti­ated both with the Chi­nese reg­u­la­tor and Ja­panese pro­duc­ers to make the film suit­able for gen­eral screen­ing here.

The two Ja­panese films, to­tal­ing 226 min­utes, were cut to one fea­ture of 125 min­utes for Chi­nese the­aters.

While some Chi­nese movie­go­ers com­plain the Chi­nese ver­sion leaves out many el­e­ments from the Ja­panese films, Parasyte has so far grossed 36 mil­lion yuan ($5.37 mil­lion) — beat­ing spy thriller Ja­son Bourne to take the third slot in the Chi­nese box of­fice over the week­end, fol­low­ing Star Trek Be­yond and Ice Age: Col­li­sion Course.

“The core sto­ry­line re­mains, as well as clas­sic scenes like those show­ing hu­man heads chang­ing into flow­er­like crea­tures,” says Zhang Han, gen­eral man­ager of EDKO (Beijing) Films Ltd, about the Chi­nese ver­sion.

Com­ment­ing on the cuts, he says the re-edit­ing­was­done­for rea­sons be­yond con­cerns about de­pic­tions of vi­o­lence.

“Chi­nese au­di­ences have got­ten used to watch­ing fast-paced films be­cause of Hol­ly­wood block­busters,” says Zhang. “A con­densed plot is ap­peal­ing to do­mes­tic movie­go­ers.”

China al­lows 34 for­eign films for gen­eral screen­ing on a rev­enue-shar­ing ba­sis ev­ery year. An­other 30 or so for­eign films are shown by pur­chas­ing their screen­ing li­censes, with­out ar­range­ments to share their main­land box-of­fice rev­enues. Parasyte was in­tro­duced in the lat­ter cat­e­gory.

Many in­dus­try sources see the film’s screen­ing here as a break­through that re­flects China’s in­creas­ing open­ness to di­verse cul­tures.

“The film has more sig­nif­i­cance in its screen­ing than com­mer­cial per­for­mance in China,” saysWang Feng, a film critic.

“Ja­panese movies are usu­ally pushed to the mar­gins by Hol­ly­wood films in China,” he says, adding that af­ter this live-ac­tion fea­ture, Ja­panese films­may now have the po­ten­tial to earn more in China’s lu­cra­tive mar­ket.

But there are op­pos­ing voices as well.

A few scenes in Parasyte could scare chil­dren, so some in­dus­try watch­ers say the the­aters should warn par­ents in ad­vance.

China has yet to es­tab­lish a movie-rat­ing sys­tem, which is why lim­i­ta­tions on the view­ing age isn’t spec­i­fied in films, in­clud­ing hor­ror and thrillers.

In re­cent years, most Ja­panese films shown on the Chi­nese main­land have been an­i­ma­tions, such as the Do­rae­mon movies, Saint Seiya: Leg­end of Sanc­tu­ary and Boruto: Naruto theMovie.

Be­fore Parasyte, the only live-ac­tion Ja­panese film to have been in­tro­duced in­China in the past five years was Fly­ing Col­ors in April. It is the com­ing-of-age story of a teenager.

An­i­mated Ja­panese films based on manga comics are liked by many Chi­nese, and Parasyte is rooted in that style, too.

The Parasyte manga series won the Seiun Award — Ja­pan’s high­est award in sci­ence fic­tion — for be­ing the best manga comic of 1996.

“China has a big fan base when it comes to the manga series,” says Zhang.

On Baidu Tieba, one of China’s largest on­line fo­rums, there are 1.6 mil­lion re­views from more than 170,000 users dis­cussing the books and screen pro­duc­tions.

Many film stu­dios wanted the rights for the series’ cin­e­matic adap­ta­tion un­til Toho, known for the mon­ster epic Godzilla (1954), pur­chased the copy­right and put Takashi Ya­mazaki at the helm as di­rec­tor.

“Ya­mazaki is known to Chi­nese au­di­ences since his other di­rec­to­rial work, Stand by Me Do­rae­mon, caused a stir in China last year,” says Zhang.

He says the cast and crew of the two Parasyte films had ear­lier planned to pro­mote the Chi­nese movie here. But the event was can­celed as the lead ac­tor, Shota Sometani, was busy shoot­ing for Chi­nese di­rec­tor Chen Kaige’s YaoMao Zhuan (Leg­end of a Cat De­mon). Chen’s film is based on the Ja­panese fan­tasy novel Sa­mon Kukai.

Con­tact the writer at xu­fan@chi­nadaily.com.cn


Parasyte, adapted from the Ja­panese manga series of the same ti­tle, is one of the few for­eign hor­ror films screened on the Chi­nese main­land. Crit­ics be­lieve the big fan base for the comic books is one of the ma­jor rea­sons for its box-of­fice suc­cess.

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