China has a growing film industry and it isn’t difficult to head to a local multiplex and catch whatever the latest major film production is on the big screen. Not so with short films. Fortunately for lovers of “shorts," the Internet is our silver screen and cutting-edge cultural entertainment is only a click or two away – you just have to find the right clicks.
In 2009, after winning a gold medal at the World Wushu Championships, Wu Di decided to retire from the world of professional sport and take on the world of acting. In the intervening years he has played supporting roles in a number of major Chinese films, including one of the bad guys up against another former Wushu champion, Jet Li, in the movie Flying Swords of Dragon Gate in 2011. However, Wu Di had larger ambitions, so this year he wrote, directed, and stared in the award-winning short film Jianghu.
This 18-minute-long action comedy takes place in a Beijing hutong where the unlikely hero, played by Wu Di, ends up in a fight with his girlfriend, actress Bao Fei, until they both realize that the cruel landlord is trying to kick everyone out of their homes and they rush back to try and save the day. Somehow the production team managed to squeeze in a love story, a coming-of-age story, a comedy, and some fun martial arts moves – not to mention some great twists – in this gem of a film. It is a nod to the world of video games in which Wu Di grew up and a homage to past action comedies like Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle.
If I were rating this film according to US standards, I would peg the original Chinese version at PG-13. Unfortunately, the English subtitles are rated R due to the unnecessary inclusion of profanity that was not in the original Chinese. If you don’t like reading while watching or if reading swear words, the film is easy to follow visually and still quite funny.
If Wu Di continues to flex his movie chops like he did in the world of competitive wushu, it won’t be long before his films are featured on the big screen and we will be left clicking for show times.
To watch Jianghu online, visit Youku.com here.
Photo by Christopher Lay