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Chinese Viewers Are Unhappy With the First Trailer for Wong Kar-Wai’s “Blossoms Shanghai”

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Wong Kar-Wai finally released the first trailer for his first TV series Blossoms Shanghai. The show is set to exclusively stream on Chinese site Tencent Video in 2022, but no exact release date has been confirmed yet.

The teaser is basically a monologue of childhood memories from the main character A Bao, played by Shanghainese actor Hu Ge, alongside vignettes of Shanghai streets in the 1960s and 1990s.

blossoms shanghai hu ge

Shanghainese actor Hu Ge plays the main character A Bao. (image via IMDb)

The series is adapted from the award-winning book Blossoms by Shanghainese novelist Jin Yucheng. It was written in Shanghainese dialect but is also accessible to Mandarin speakers. The book centers on the family, friendship, and romantic relationships of three male characters and ultimately depicts a city map and history, with the 1960s and 1990s providing the backdrop.

The novel won the Mao Dun Literary Prize in 2015, one of the most prestigious literature prizes in China. Wong reportedly bought the adaptation rights of the book the year before and claimed he wanted to make it into an “American-style Shanghainese TV series.”

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A poster of Blossoms Shanghai (image via IMDb)

That promise, however, has proven to be a major sticking point with Chinese viewers. Though some people are celebrating Wong’s unique cinematography and Hu’s performance, many say it doesn’t represent Shanghai and that the general vibe of the trailer is too commercial.

 

“I died five seconds into this teaser,” Chinese entertainment critic Luo Beibei writes in her blog. “Why is it all Mandarin? Wong said he would respect the dialect when he bought the rights.”

She also criticized the trailer’s aesthetics, “What’s this advertisement for? Liquor? Men’s clothing? Custom shoes?”

To be fair, the team behind the show includes some of the most high-profile names in the Chinese film industry, and has a strong connection to the city.

Known primarily as a Hong Kong film director, Wong was born in Shanghai and often refers to the city in his works, for example, in his beloved 2000 film In the Mood for Love. Blossoms Shanghai will be his first turn behind the camera since the martial arts epic The Grandmaster in 2013.

Hu, the leading man of the series and the only confirmed actor so far, is best known to international audiences as the hero of Wild Goose Lake, which won the Asian Film Award for Best Cinematography in 2020. The production team also includes Shanghainese screenwriter Qin Wen and Oscar-winning cinematographer Peter Pau.

However, there are fears that they may choose an easier route for the adaptation, instead of restoring historical settings and digging deep into the cultural revolution and economic reform days.

Cover image via IMDb

Lu Zhao
Lu Zhao is a bilingual and multimedia journalist with a focus on human interest and social issues. Her work has appeared in USA Today, UPI, SupChina, Pandaily, Chicago Reporter, and other publications.