One of China’s biggest stars, Jet Li, has spoken out against the heavy film censorship in his homeland which means many Hollywood films never make it into cinemas.
Li, who started making films in Hong Kong before moving to Hollywood, hit out on his blog. He said the need for realism, insisted on by censors, left “only the ancient Chinese stories to be produced”.
The actor said: “I remember back after I finished filming The Bodyguard from Beijing, the movie was banned from China due to the fact that, in reality there would be no situation as depicted in the film.”
Former kung fu champion Li has seen a string of his Hollywood films banned in his home country. In 2000 Romeo Must Die did not make it past the censors because it featured gangsters, whilst 2001’s Kiss of the Dragon was blocked because Li’s Chinese policeman character is seen to kill people abroad.
The strictness of Chinese censorship only allows an average of 20 foreign films to be shown officially each year, and those which do make it through can be heavily cut.
One of the year’s biggest hits, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, saw the screen time of one of its main characters halved. Chow Yun-fat’s character, Captain Sao Feng, was targeted because the depiction of a bald and scarred pirate was seen as anti-Chinese.
“It is my hope that audiences can mature and develop to see the difference between a movie and real life; not everything needs to be realistic,” said Li.