Alibaba’s Jack Ma fails to win ap­plause with kung fu de­but

Global Times US Edition - - LIFE -

Sim­i­lar to how peo­ple never imag­ined that a school teacher­turned en­tre­pre­neur would one day build one of the largest e-com­merce em­pires in the world some 30 years ago, it is hard to be­lieve that Jack Ma, the founder and ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of Alibaba, can now be con­sid­ered a film star.

Though only 22 min­utes long, newly re­leased kung fu ac­tion film Gong Shou Dao sees Ma take on a num­ber of China’s most pop­u­lar stars, such as Jet Li, Don­nie Yen and Wu Jing in a mar­tial arts bat­tle to prove who is No.1.

One by one, Ma, who plays a Taichi mas­ter, de­feats one big name af­ter an­other: Zou Shim­ing, a well-known Chi­nese boxer; Wu Jing, who plays the un­de­feat­able for­mer Chi­nese spe­cial forces sol­dier in block­buster hit Wolf War­rior II; and Don­nie Yen, known for por­tray­ing Wing Chun mas­ter Ip Man all fall be­fore Ma’s kung fu prow­ess.

De­spite the mas­sive star power on dis­play, the film has only re­ceived a luke­warm wel­come af­ter it de­buted in a limited run in the­aters in China on Satur­day and af­ter hit­ting stream­ing site Youku on Sun­day, where it earned more than 34 mil­lion views that same day.

“If you see it as a pro­mo­tion for Chi­nese mar­tial arts then it is not a fail­ure, but as a ‘film’ it doesn’t have much to say and leaves peo­ple feel­ing con­fused and lost,” ne­ti­zen Xiaox­iao Kaifeng wrote on Chi­nese movie site Mtime af­ter watch­ing the film in the­aters.

In in­ter­views with en­ter­tain­ment site bt­time.com, a num­ber of movie­go­ers who went to see the film de­scribed the film as more of a “per­sonal ban­quet for Jack Ma” and “a pro­mo­tion for Ma’s per­sonal im­age.”

Oth­ers were more pos­i­tive about the film.

“It’s rare to see such a pure kung fu film. I did not ex­pect to see so many stars in just 20 min­utes. The film is great pro­mo­tion for our na­tional trea­sure,” ne­ti­zen Yun Xiaox­iao wrote on youku.com.

A scene from Gong Shou Dao

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