Editor’s note: Empires of the Deep, with a budget exceeding $100 million, was supposed to be China's Avatar. But as our correspondent, Dale Irons, found out on set, this extravagant 3-D epic was plagued from the beginning by incompetence and misfortune -- to say nothing of dangerous working conditions, a rampaging horse, and the tide. Five years after production began, there's little reason to believe this film will ever see a big-screen release.
This is Part 2 of Dale's two-part diary from the set of what might be China's most expensive -- and worst -- movie ever. --RFH
Editor’s note: Empires of the Deep is a much-delayed 3-D epic film that seems destined to disappear forever. Neither the film -- known rather generously as "China’s Avatar," starring Bond girl Olga Kurylenko (Quantum of Solace) -- nor the full story may ever be officially released. It’s now been five years -- an appropriate anniversary -- so, tired of waiting, we here publish the “production diaries” of a young Australian-British man, Dale Irons, who found himself back in 2009, for various reasons, on the set of allegedly the most expensive Chinese film ever made -- and possibly the worst. Big words? Read for yourself. --RFH
First published in November 2008 on the old Danwei under the headline "RMB 3 million foreign douche bag in Shanghai" -- aged mp3 link newly restored! -- this tape is a genuine recording from Sherpa’s from a freewheeling customer who really likes comped hamburgers and isn’t afraid to show it. At one point the brutal laowai -- use of the term here meant as pejoratively as possible -- tells the Sherpa's operator, who gives her name as Sunny, that she doesn't have a "sunny disposition" and chastises her on lacking a "sunny attitude."
When it comes to toadying up to authority, you can’t beat foreign business. While smog comes and goes like a dissident in the night, its legacy lives on -- for example, in the missive below from Savills, the London-based real estate agency, which wins our coveted Beijing Cream Corporate Whore of the Month Award with “Twelve tricks to protect you from haze.”
"Festival Fever," declares the cover of relentlessly upbeat Time Out Beijing. Coming at the end of what might just be China’s worst week in recent history – starting with a massacre in Kunming and ending with 230 people, including 140 Chinese, seemingly disappearing into the Twilight Zone – it’s hard to share their enthusiasm.
Some breaking news here (in that it happened three days ago and we’ve only just learned about it): a foreign man has been hospitalized and another injured following a stabbing around Sanlitun Bar Street in the early morning of Tuesday, February 25. Information is scant.
The news was first posted at 4:32 am by a man claiming to be an employee of the Village edition of Starbucks, and he sounded pretty shaken up about it.
Xinhua host and moonlighter for the Daily Mail’s venerable China Bureau Nikki Aaron has been blissfully peddling the British tabloid yarns of her “China adventures” for the last few months. All well and good.
Here’s her latest, on dating, a subject she has visited before. The extremely confessional tone of the Mail piece begs the question: who is Nikki Aaron?
The information that follows was compiled by BJC editor-at-large RFH after a chat with the shadowy Tan Guan, whose position at Global Times is unknown. All views expressed below are to be...
A certain article in a particular newspaper has caused some people on the Western Internet to debate so-called “virginity values." Yesterday, even the WSJ China editor chimed in on Sina Weibo: “How was a misogynistic article like this published?” this person asked.
Foreign commissioning editors get a lot of pitches like this: “The Chinese are now watching Homeland / eating caviar / behaving like us.” These activities usually owe to the fact that a few ultra-wealthy Chinese have found some new, pointlessly expensive Western habit — like high-end gold hi-fi aficionado clubs, or bottles of purified Moon water... Read more »
By TAR Nation and RFH
Ed's note: TAR and RFH have diametrically opposed opinions about Aaron Sorkin's The Newsroom, starring Jeff Daniels as a news anchor who, in one lapse of honesty, sees his world turned upside-down. Characters sing "arias of facts," as the New Yorker's review put it, which sounds a lot like what news organizations closer to home -- in China -- do. So, TAR and RFH set aside their disagreements about The Newsroom to write a pitch for a show called Chinese Newsroom. TV producers out there: pick this up!
By RFH Idea for an honest advert: Scene: A log cabin in remote woods. Five teens of mixed ethnicity/affability convene in a spooky basement to investigate a noise. Suddenly, the cast-iron stove in the back noisily cranks into action, pipes groaning. The teens gather round as, inside the stove, coals glow red-hot and wisps of smoke emerge.... Read more »
Two exhibitions opened in Beijing this weekend, both small yet worthier of a visit than many of the major ones held at, for example, the National Museum of China (unless you have a pressing interest in Louis Vuitton luggage).
Saturday saw the launch of “Art, Design, Culture: The History of Penguin by Design,” first exhibited at London’s V&A. It recounts the history of the paperback (or Penguin’s at least), which was conceived by Allen Lane in the 1930s as a way to popularize books and learning.
By RFH You’ve probably wondered how the Chinese public bathroom experience could be made any less savory. We’ve seen a few methods: stinging nettles around an earthen hole; a local pensioner eyeballing the foreigner’s bowel movement. Routine stuff. But how about an unwelcome penis being jabbed in your eye? Head out to the Chanping public... Read more »
By RFH Sad tidings this week, via Chris “Devonshire” Devonshire-Ellis. CDE – not to be confused with CBE (Commander of the British Empire, a British honour bound to come his way soon, one way or another) – has announced that he is leaving China in a rambling post on his otherwise unheard-of blog, China Briefing. Mostly,... Read more »
By RFH Recently a doctor on Weibo recalled the story of a patient – a kabob (chuanr, in Beijing patois) seller – who came in with stab wounds in the 1980s after getting into a ruckus with a customer. Upon surgery, his problems were found to be far worse than previously assumed. His stomach was riddled... Read more »
By RFH If you’re planning a holiday to Guangxi this summer – home to to what’s considered China’s most picturesque landscape – here’s a heads-up before you go swimming. There are man-eating piranhas in the river! According to the local fishery’s department, the carnivorous South American fish is commonly found in the rivers of the... Read more »
What happens when you’re a socialist Chinese blowhard and you get your ass handed to you by a girl after challenging her to fisticuffs in a Beijing park?
You tell everyone you won, of course.
In one of those weird "This is China" moments, while the rest of Beijing came to a grinding halt over some light rain at 1 pm on Friday, a whole bunch of Web users and bloggers – all of whom were carrying at least four or five umbrellas apiece – convened at the south gate of Chaoyang Park for a Grumble in Das Jungle.
By RFH Reuters’s anonymous sources (reliable, surely) may tell us that the upcoming 18th Party Congress – aka Xi Jingping’s coronation – will be delayed, but our reading of the tea leaves yields a different conclusion. If you can’t afford to visit North Korea this summer (where a long weekend with a tour group can cost a couple-thousand... Read more »
By RFH There’s a new Paul the Octupus in town. In China. And he’s a llama – no, not that kind. For some reason, and despite having fuck-all to do with Euro 2012, Tianjin Zoo is attempting to lure thrill-seekers to its no-doubt already white-knuckle zoological experience with a llama that can predict the actual... Read more »
We’ll have to wait until July before the results of the gaokao – national university entrance exams – are announced. When they are, state media’s response will be as predictable and reflexive as British media et alia sticking an attractive blonde celebrating her A-levels on the front page (and pages 2,3,5,8 and 9). The top scorers... Read more »