Ya­mada comedy gets a Chi­nese face-lift

China Daily (Canada) - - LIFE - By XU­FAN xu­fan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Yoji Ya­mada has been fa­mil­iar toChi­nese fans for decades, but now the iconic Ja­panese di­rec­tor will see his lat­est work in­tro­duced to the coun­try inanewway.

What a Won­der­ful Fam­ily, Ya­mada’s 2016 comedy, re­cently has been re­made by Chi­nese film­mak­ers and will open at main­land the­aters on April 28.

The tale, fea­tur­ing Ya­mada’s trade­mark of vividly demon­strat­ing fam­ily dy­nam­ics, cen­ters on a fam­ily with three gen­er­a­tions same roof.

When the pen­sioner grand­fa­ther plans to cel­e­brate his 50th mar­riage an­niver­sary, the grand­mother stun­ningly asks for a di­vorce.

The sud­den chaos is fol­lowed by a se­ries of comedic con­flicts.

When the 108-minute fea­ture was screened at the 19th Shang­hai In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val in June, many lo­cal view­ers burst into tears and laugh­ter.

The re­cep­tion im­pressedGu Xiaodong, a vet­eran film pro­ducer, who was sit­ting next to liv­ing un­der the Ya­mada in­side a Shang­hai cin­ema dur­ing the fes­ti­val.

Get­ting Ya­mada’s per­mis­sion to re­make the film, Gu found Huang Lei, a well­known actor.

Shot to fame by Chen Kaige’s 1991 film Life on a String, Huang has starred in a num­ber of hits, such as the re­cent TV se­ries A Love for Sep­a­ra­tion, and Midnight Diner, a Chi­nese re­make of the name­sake Ja­panese se­ries.

But the up­com­ing comedy is his big-screen di­rec­to­rial de­but in a ca­reer span­ning 26 years.

“I never thought I would di­rect a film, espe­cial a re­make ofmy idol,” saysHuang.

The film’s shooting ended ear­lier this month.

He says Ya­mada, known to Chi­nese for the en­dur­ing To­rasan se­ries, is an in­flu­en­tial master stud­ied by many Chi­nese cin­ema stu­dents. The 85-year-old Ya­mada’s drama Na­gasaki: Mem­o­ries of My Son was se­lected as Ja­pan’s sub­mis­sion for for­eign-lan­guage cat­e­gory for next year’s Oscars.

With 48 films pro­duced over nearly 30 years, the Tora-san se­ries is one of the long­est fran­chises in the world’s cin­e­matic his­tory. Ya­mada’s The Yel­low Hand­ker­chief and A Dis­tant Cry from Spring were among the ear­li­est Ja­panese films in­tro­duced to China since the two coun­tries re­sumed diplo­matic re­la­tions in 1972.

But for Huang, the big­gest chal­lenge was how to give a fresh tone to the orig­i­nal film.

“I know many peo­ple have watched the film (Ya­mada’s Won­der­ful Fam­ily), so theChi­nese ver­sion will be hard­pressed to pro­vide suspense or a twist,” he says.

But the cul­tural close­ness be­tween China and Ja­pan makes Huang be­lieve the film will eas­ily res­onate with lo­cals. The re­make is a four-gen­er­a­tion story set in a hu­tong (al­ley) home in Bei­jing.

In ad­di­tion to Huang, the cast high­lights Tai­wan vet­eran Lee Li-chun and main­land ac­tressHai Qing.

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