[FILM] Hollywood Imports Scripts from Asia
- Hollywood Imports Scripts from Asia
Donal Brown, Nov 28, 2004
A Duke University expert on Asian film says that global flow in the
film industry has meant an increase in the `Asianization' of
Hollywood films to match the long-standing influence of Holywood
films on Asia.
Professor Leo Ching, chair of the Asian and African Languages and
Literature Department, says that remakes of Asian films that are big
hits in the United States often reflect the influence of Hollywood
on Asian directors.
"Hollywood is not being taken over by Asian cinema. In fact, it's
the reverse. It only works because of the Hollywoodization of Asian
cinema," he says.
Afterall, says Ching, Asian audiences have been viewing U.S. films
for 20 to 30 years and have acquired a taste for them. Seventy-eight
percent of the Thailand box office is Hollywood films. It's an
astonishing 65 percent of the box office in Japan.
Audiences here and in Asia have a "shared experience of how to watch
a film," says Ching.
Capitalizing on this shared experience, prominent U.S. director
Quentin Tarantino created the wildly popular "Kill Bill" series,
which featured the best of the Japanese and Hong Kong film action
genre. He has recently announced that his next film will be entirely
in Mandarin Chinese.
When films cross national boundaries, there is often a process
of "localization" according to Ching. This makes the films lose
their foreignness and become more interesting and acceptable to a
For example, the U.S. remake of the Japanese horror movie, "The
Grudge," was a box office hit.
On the other hand, a smash hit in Asia is not a sure bet in the
United States. Ching says that "Shaolin Soccer," a fascinating mix
of soccer and martial arts, did not succeed in the U.S. It may have
had something to do with it being dubbed. The industry is now re-
releasing the film with subtitles, more familiar to U.S. audiences,
hoping for greater acceptability.
In the 1960s, the Japanese film industry produced a number of films
without Hollywood values, films that showed the common life,
everyday occurrences at a slow pace. They failed to capture the
attention of a wide audience here owing to their lack of excitement.
Contrast those films to a film like "Crouching Tiger, Hidden
Dragon," one of the first films employing Hollywood-style action and
suspense to showcase the magic of martial arts cinematography
popular in Hong Kong for years. It was a box office success and
nominated for best director (Ang Lee) and best film. It won Oscars
for cinematography and art direction.
The South Korean film industry is vibrant and produces many scripts
for Hollywood films. In the same way, Asian filmmakers buy proven
products from the U.S. for remaking in Asia.
Ching sees many positives for the world's film industry. There is a
sharing of ideas and a revitalization. But, he warns, in localizing
foreign products to make them less alien, commercial values can
prevail at the cost of creativity.
"Film makers are less likely to do independent films which take
chances with new forms, story lines and narrative techniques.
Commercializaton flattens out different possibilities," says Ching.