Top Chinese Director Says Local Filmmakers Must Raise Their Game to Compete With Hollywood

Kaige Chen - P 2013

With his new film, 'Monk Comes Down the Mountain,' 'Farewell, My Concubine' director Chen Kaige says he used a Western crew to help him "reach an advanced international level from the technology and industry perspective."

Top Chinese director Chen Kaige said that while the movie industry was booming in his country, local filmmakers needed to raise their standards if domestic films were to compete with Hollywood in the world's second largest market.

Chen, who won the Palme d'Or in 1993 for Farewell, My Concubine, was speaking to The Hollywood Reporter at a news conference to launch his latest movie, Monk Comes Down The Mountain.

"That is also the reason that we used a lot of Western crew for this film. I want their ability to get rid of the disadvantages and challenges that China faces. I am trying to reach an advanced international level from the technology and industry perspective," said Chen.

Monk Comes Down The Mountain is adapted from a novel by Xu Haofeng and is about a Taoist monk who resumes his secular life.

The movie debuted in Beijing on Jul. 2 and features Aaron Kwok, Chang Chen, Chiling Lin, Wang Baoqiang and Vanness Wu. As THR previously reported, Jaycee Chan, the son of Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan who was jailed after a drugs bust, remains in the movie despite being blacklisted.

Chinese films need to focus on content because Hollywood will always win on technology, said Chen.

"Even after a few decades, we can't reach it because America is a technology-leading country. The whole society is focused on technology. This is not China’s strong point. We should make the audiences to watch films that are related to their lives," said Chen.

Part of the aim of Chen's movie was to update the martial arts genre.

"There is big difference between this film and the traditional martial arts film. I have strong feeling that after decades, traditional martial arts films need to reform or change. Otherwise the audience will be tired. Today’s martial arts must be connected with the modern technology.  It must have the new visual effect element to connect with the martial arts," he said.

Chen used international talent for post-production, photographing, visual effect, musical and editing

"There are two reasons that I was attracted to this project. First is the story. The second reason was the structure. It is a big challenge for me because I have to shape many different characters but they only appear at some stage of the film," said Chen.