Mr. Undercover Goes Global
This chapter considers the recent and unfolding phenomenon of Hollywood's remaking of East Asian popular genres, including horror, romance, and gangster movies from Japan, South Korea, and Hong Kong. It examines two examples of contemporary Hollywood's absorption of “Chinese elements” in comparison with the innovative film/stage work by Shi-zheng Chen, a diasporic Chinese media artist. The Hollywood examples are (1) Martin Scorsese's remaking of Infernal Affairs I (dir. Andrew Lau, Alan Mak, 2002) into The Departed (2006); and (2) DreamWorks' 3D animation Kung Fu Panda 2 (2011). In comparison and contrast with these mainstream big productions, Shi-zheng Chen's films, Dark Matter (2007) and Disney High School Musical: China (2010), and the stage performance Monkey: Journey to the West (launched in 2007) are more marked by the unsettling “spectre of comparison” and a correlated bifocal perspective. Yet all these examples dramatize issues of identity confusion, collision, erasure, and transformation, which allegorically echo the risk of dedifferentiation, deidentification, and the related opportunity of self-repositioning that all emerge from the processes of remaking and appropriation in the global economy. The Departed and Kung Fu Panda 2 foreground provincialization of Hollywood from the peripheral (in this case Chinese) perspective and redefinition of “Chinese cinema” as a cinema with a wide spectrum of fluctuating “Chinese elements.” These developments lead us to ponder the new role of (diasporic) Chinese film-media workers (as exemplified by Shi-zheng Chen) in the arena of global media production and exchange.
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