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