As I said in my review of Universal’s “150 million worth of stupid,” it’s not really for the North American market.
Like Universal’s “Great Wall,” there’s a shift in the cultural locus of both “Pacific Rim” movies. Whoever the “name” stars are, the real performance/”hero” of the movie is “The Chinese Way” — efficient, cooperative, deferential to all knowing authority.
And that’s reflected in the box office take. Rim” rimmed out in the U.S., earning only $26 million. But in China? An exchange-rate thrilling $146 million, and that’s where the movie — Chinese financed — will turn a big profit.
For me, it was odd to hear an unprompted Jackie Chan or John Woo play up the “It’s important to be friends” idea of dealing with China, unprompted, to emphasize China’s need for “order” over civil liberties, representative democracy and a government accountable to its people. They could see, years ago, the way Hollywood would approach luring China onto their bottom lines.
No more Chinese villains, no hints at corruption, waste, an Army that runs everything and makes illicit billions at home and abroad, no more “Red Corner.” Just pandering to the Pandas.
We first noticed this in the Chinese component of “2012,” in which the world experiences a cataclysm, but authoritarian China gets the job of secretly building smokey, diesel powered (No EPA? No problem!) arks to save chunks of the human race. The all-wise/all-knowing State anticipates the disaster, and has the resources and know how to come up with a plan.
“Pacific Rim: Uprising” cedes the power and influence over the aforementioned Rim to China. As in, “We’re pushing our borders well into the China Sea, right up to the shores of Taiwan, Japan and especially the Philippines, because we know best.”
So they run the show, and Hollywood, craving Chinese chump change, flatters the Chinese market by accepting that.
We are seeing this more and more in action films, “Mission: Impossible” this or that.
We’ve seen our last Chinese bond villains, even though, in global terms, their spreading money and collecting natural resources by “helping” Africa and “removing” big chunks of S. America back to the Motherland has the stench of colonization and power grabs.
Besides, Russians make the best villains because they’ve had a century of practice and know no other way.
But as the Not-Exactly-a-PEOPLE’S-Republic struts and gets more deference from the same corner of American business that fretted first about losing European markets to Hitler, second about the slavery and mass murder that promised, the Chinese should watch “Contact.”
Way back in ancient history — the ’90s — Hollywood got a collective sore back bending over and kissing Japanese feet. “Rising Sun,” “Black Rain,” and in the sci-fi hit “Contact,” it’s an all wise Japanese oligarch who saves the day with a “secret” transport for Jodie Foster to make contact with aliens.
The only thing that’s permanent in any of this is Hollywood’s pursuit of production cash, fresh markets to sell their ways as the U.S. audience steadily declines.
India? You’re next.