I watched "Jet Li's Fearless" yesterday. I think it's only right to include the complete title, if only to firmly put Jet Li's stamp on this product, which, incidentally, came packaged with trailers for Balls of Fury and Hot Fuzz. I - strangely - cannot wait for the second.
But the fury in the title of this post is at the blatant pinko Commie propoganda on display in the movie. And this has been happening in popular Chinese movies for the past few years. Recall "Hero," which was a paean to the glory that is the state and its eternal wisdom. And this from a director that should know better.
What I really mean is that I hate the Chinese (government). So many potentially good movies, corrupted into the service of their propoganda.
Take two scenes from Fearless. First, the one where Jet Li really screwed up planting rice, and Yueci (a.k.a. Blind Girl with Weird Cowlick) helps him to replant them in straight rows. She says something like, "Rice can't be placed too close together. They're like people, which is why we need to respect others." Second, the inane tea thing between Jet Li and the Japanese guy, where Li refuses to judge the quality of tea, saying that as long as tea is tea, he'll drink (accept) it.
First, anyone who can't distinguish good tea from bad tea is missing out on a lot. Similarly with wine or (so I'm told) coffee. It's like saying McDonald's is the same as an Angus steak. It's just a god-awful lack of taste (and, I would argue, intelligence). As an English friend of mine said, "Why have cotton when you can have silk?"
Second, this whole message is very much in line with the CCP's political perspective. Don't judge us, and we won't judge you. Don't talk about our human rights, stay out of our "internal affairs," don't mind our oppression of our own people, the abyssmal labor conditions. And don't mind the fact that Chinese companies regularly "export" these practices to other countries (e.g. Zambia), or that the lack of internal democratic procedure makes all your neighbors wonder whether your external policies will be fueled by a similar lack of restraint and appreciation for democratic values. And of course, don't mind the fact that we've signed the international conventions on human rights, but interpret them in such a way so as to have no impact or meaning.
All this because you shouldn't judge the quality of tea.
I would argue something quite different, and let it be a lesson to anyone who thinks China is less threatening than the U.S. (I'm looking at you, Europe). Some things you justifiably cannot judge, because there are no meaningful criteria - whether objective or subjectively agreed upon. The "power" of a certain type of martial art, for example. But human rights, how governments treat their own people - those are issues which you can take a meaningful stand on.
Judge, and be judged, and that should extend for all countries in all the relevant behaviors. None of this respect for respect's sake. There has to be a value in the practice being respected, not a cover abhorrent practices. Man, I hope we start seeing less of these wusha films, or at least that people start thinking about the messages and ridicule them.