Why Alibaba’s first movie Bai Du Ren (摆渡人) is a must-watch

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From left: Wong Kar Wai, Zhang Qiang (Alibaba Pictures CEO), Tony Leung and Zhang Jiajia. Source: Xinhua

From the guys who brought us one of the biggest online shopping portals, Alibaba is now venturing into movie productions. While the company is keeping mum about the movie’s release date (maybe they genuinely didn’t know when the filming will be completed), ‘Bai Du Ren’ (摆渡人) has definitely piqued the interest of international and local media. Bai Du Ren or ‘Ferryman’ is a comedy that centres on a young woman and her love-triangle, and how she ‘transports’ the characters in the film from one circumstance to another. Will this Chinese-production become China’s foray into becoming Hollywood of the East? Collywood, perhaps? Without much detail on the specifics of this film, here are 4 reasons why we think Bai Du Ren is worth catching.

 1. This is the debut production of Alibaba’s US$800M-investment

Alibaba spent more than US$800 million acquiring a controlling stake in ChinaVision Media Group, and Bai Du Ren is its debut production. After the acquisition, ChinaVision Media Group changed its name to Alibaba Pictures.

 2. It boasts a stellar director

Looks like Ailbaba is pulling out all stops to make Bai Du Ren a success, including hiring celebrated Hong Kong filmmaker Wong Kar Wai (王家卫) as its director. Some of Wong’s most famous films in the international market include ‘In the Mood for Love’ and 2013 Oscar Nominated film “The Grandmaster”.

3. …and actor

Leading actor of the film, Tony Leung Chiu Wai ( 梁朝伟) accepted the offer to act in the film despite not having seen the script. He’s in simply because Wong is. The award-wining actor has been starring in a number of Wong Kar Wai’s productions including ‘Happy Together, ‘In the Mood for Love’ and ‘2046’. Side note: Does Tony Leung never age?

4. It’s written by a ‘perfectionist’ script writer

Writer Zhang Jiajia (张嘉佳) may not be known to many outside of China and neither has he ever directed a film before. But this Chinese writer’s collection of short stories “I Belonged to You” was a bestseller in China last year.  During the movie’s press event on 11 January in Beijing, Zhang said he is “very emotionally attached’ to the movie, and that he had revised the script 25 times. Sounds like a perfectionist to us.



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