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China Daily Website

Chinese audiences find 'Lost in Thailand'

Updated: 2012-12-26 17:35
( Xinhua)

BEIJING - At the end of the year, most filmmakers hope to rake in profits and praise, but it seems that few Chinese blockbusters have been able to escape cracks and flak this season.

The recent success of a low-budget comedy shows that Chinese audiences are not too demanding. They simply want to be entertained and, sometimes, have a nerve touched.

"Lost in Thailand," a conventional comedy about two rival Chinese businessmen and a simple-minded pancake maker, grossed more than 700 million yuan ($111 million) by Christmas Eve and has broken box offices records for domestic films since it premiered on Dec 12.

The comedic hit cost just 30 million yuan to make, but has outshone, and out-earned, other blockbusters that bombed at the box office after costing millions to make.

After laughing through the 105-minute gut-buster, many moviegoers have hung around to watch behind-the-scenes clips included in the movie's closing credits.

The response is unusual for a low-budget affair, especially amid strong competition from blockbusters such Ang Lee's "Life of Pi" and Feng Xiaogang's "Back to 1942."

The comedy won rave reviews by giving Chinese audiences what they want: popular stars, funny dialogue, good timing and a prompt for self-reflection.

Moreover, religious and political fanatics are absent from the movie, making it a breeze to sit through, and it stars three of China's top comedians, Xu Zheng, Huang Bo and Wang Baoqiang. It is also Xu's directorial debut.

Xu has been devoted to stage shows for many years, which may explain why he knows exactly how a comedy should work, and the dialogue is consistently humorous, even though a few punchlines are predictable.

Meanwhile, the timing of the movie's release was well chosen. It is the time of the year for blockbusters, but there are few quality comedies rooted in real life.

In a plot that twists and turns, the lives of two rival Chinese businessmen and a pancake maker collide when they are all thrown into a journey to Thailand. The man who owns the largest share of the two businessmen's company, an unhappily married wife, a lonely daughter and a real-life celebrity also get thrown into the mix.

At the end of the film, ambitious businessman Xu Lang (Xu Zheng) realizes there are more important things in life than a magnificent career.

Chinese modern writer Lu Xun said a comedy should tear apart the worthless and showcase the process, and "Lost in Thailand" does just that.

The plot moves so swiftly and smoothly that a moviegoer might wonder where the time went -- that is, if he or she is not too caught up in thinking about what is worth pursuing in life or pondering what the movie has to say about modern Chinese society.

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