Xu Lei becomes scriptwriter for a new film based on his series of novels. reports.
... at (Hollywood) blockbusters, very few cast Chinese as protagonists ... Chinese culture has yet to be recognized globally.” scriptwriter Xu Fan
Deemed one of China’s earliest novelists to usher in a boom in “tomb-robbing” literature, Xu Lei is polishing a newidentity now.
“My ambition is to compete for an Oscar, not a Nobel Prize,” the 34-year-old author, more familiar by his pseudonymNanpai Sanshu, tells China Daily in a recent interview.
Although Xu clarifies that he is joking, he has shown an interest in the lucrative movie industry.
Nowhe’s working mainly as a businessman and a scriptwriter.
He founded a company in Beijing named after himself andset its blueprint todevelop his works into diverse entertainment content such as movies, TV series and games.
The newfilm Time Raiders, written by Xu, is set for a nationwide release on Friday.
The storyof the film is based on two books of The Grave Robbers’ Chronicles series thatXubeganto write in 2006. He published nine from the series until 2011. Asmany as 12 million copies of the series as have been sold so far, winning Xu more than 11 million fans on the Twitter-like SinaWeibo platform and making him a top-earning Chinese writer.
The book series has been adapted into a stage play, a 12-episode online series and video games. Despite the novel’s popularity, the adapted online series, The Lost Tomb, had sparked criticism in 2015 for deviating from the original content and the production’s poor visual effects.
But determined to have morecontrol of the adaptation now, Xu has written the script for the film Time Raiders.
“We know that robbing tombs is illegal, which should not be praised on the big screen, so the movie handles it as a backdrop,” Xu says, wearing a Chinese-style suit.
The new destination for the adventure in the film is buried deeply in a fictional mountain bordering China and some countries in Central Asia.
Time Raiders is directed by Hong Kong veteran Daniel Lee and has mainland stars Jing Boran and Lu Han in lead roles. Xu Lei,
The storyline revolves around people who open a tomb to unveil a long-buried secret to immortality rooted in ancient Chinesemyth.
Xu, who sometimes fails to fill the holes in his novels, initially struggled with excessive twists in his script for the film.
Commenting on his script, Lee says: “Xu first wrote a story that had some 70,000 Chinese characters. If I had shot a film based on his first draft, it would have taken six hours of screening.
“But I was very impressed by Xu’s writing skills. His language and rich knowledge of Chinese history made the final script very attractive.”
The director reveals that the most appealing part of the script is the emotional connection between the raiders.
After revising the script nearly 20 times in two years, the shooting began in a 6,000-square-meter area in Beijing, where special effects were done by an international team.
Interestingly, despite the overseas technical support, Xu has a different view on Chinese filmmakers’ foreign ambitions.
“If you take a look at (Hollywood) blockbusters, very few cast Chinese as protagonists. In some sense, it means Chinese culture has yet to be recognized globally,” he says.
The deeper he studies cultural differences, the more he thinks that Chinese movies should still focus on the domestic market, Xu says.
When asked if his next plan is to take the director’s chair, as fellow novelists Han Han and Guo Jingming have done, Xu gives a sly smile.
“It’s a very painstaking job. I’m afraid I can’t afford the stress,” he says, adding that Lee wakes up at 4 am to start work.
It might be too early to predict how far the writer will tap into the showbiz industry. His nervousness and worries are obvious.
On a recent Sina Weibo post for his “book fans”, he wrote: “I’m writing for a film for the first time. If there are shortcomings, please don’t blame me too much.”
TimeRaiders, starring Jing Boran, is the latest adaptation of Xu Lei’s best-selling series Grave Robbers’ Chronicles.