The Myth and Zhouey

03 Oct 2005
The Myth

The Myth

So last night I saw Jackie Chan’s new movie The Myth at the theater. I wanted to see it despite not even really knowing anything about it, which only seems silly to me in retrospect. I’ll admit I was fooled by the movie posters. The movie wanted very much to be another “Chinese epic” in the tradition of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Hero. That much is obvious simply in the movie posters. Chump that I am, I was even fooled into thinking this was Jackie Chan playing a serious role in a movie. Actually, maybe I was just lured in by the inclusion of (hot) Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat.

The truth is the movie was a cross between a typical Jackie Chan movie and the “Chinese epic” (or at least an attempt at one). Both fell short, and the fusion kind of flopped. It still had its entertaining elements, though.

Some points I found interesting:

– The scene in the “rat glue” factory was awesome. I was of the opinion that Jackie Chan hasn’t been coming up with very innovative new action scenes for a while now, but this one was extremely well done.

– Malika Sherawat and the whole India sequence seemed totally unnecessary. The whole depiction of India seemed pretty stereotypical to me, but I can’t say I’m exactly sure what stereotypes the Chinese/Hong Kongnese apply to India or how an Indian would feel about the way India was portrayed in the movie. I guess the whole India bit was all just to show off Malika Sherawat and capitalize on Bollywood’s popularity? It was worth it in the “rat glue” scene.

– I watched the movie in Mandarin Chinese, and it was pretty easy to understand (except for a few parts in the “ancient China” scenes). What I found weird, though, was how they chose to use (Chinese) subtitles in some parts, but just had people speaking Chinese in other parts. For example, in the opening sequence, the princess speaks Korean and it’s subtitled. Later, foreigners working for a research company all speak Chinese (they were clearly dubbed). Jackie speaks in an Indian language with a guard in a temple in India (and it’s subtitled), but the rest of the time in India the Indians all speak (dubbed) Chinese.

– The violence in Jackie Chan’s movies has traditionally been pretty slapstick. It gets pretty bloody in this one, particularly in the ancient China flashbacks. Looks like Jackie is abandoning his principles for a piece of the “China epic” pie?

The last point deserves to be made in its own paragraph rather than just a bullet. It’s a rather weird point to make, and I’m not sure how many would agree with me here. But here goes. The bad guy in The Myth, played by actor Zhou Sun, looks like an older, Chinese version of Joey from Friends (actor Matt LeBlanc). No joke! You know, in the same way that Koizumi looks like a Japanese Richard Gere. I’m not just all talk, though. I have photos for comparison purposes! See if you can pick out who is who! (Warning: bad facial hair ahead!)

Quiz: Joey or Zhou?

If you can’t figure out who is who, you can e-mail me for the answers. I hope you guys agree that they look alike. Last time I suggested a Chinese model looked like Katie Holmes, I didn’t get a lot of support. I know this Caucasian-Asian lookalike phenomenon is real, though, thanks to the incontrovertible Koizumi-Gere case.

Anyway.

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. You’re high.

  2. Yeah, I occasionally see a person on the street and think “That’s just how [my aunt, friend, celebrity, etc] would look if they were Chinese”.

    Actually, I sometimes glance at a Chinese person and then do a double-take, “Is that a foreigner?” But it’s not. Maybe it’s more their clothes or their behaviour or their build which makes me doubt, rather than their face. We often hear the synecdoche “a foreign face”, but actually I think there are a lot of other things that make a westerner obviously look foreign. Even ethnic Chinese who were raised in the West tend to look pretty foreign when they come to China.

  3. It’s an extreemly good comparison shot. They really are quite similar.

  4. dude i know what you mean. i have observed the same phemenon in American high schools, noticing a few chinese girls looking a lot like some other caucasian ones. Also, while i was back in china during this summer, the chinese girl on the cover of cosmopolitan (or was it maxim?) china edition strangely looked much like hillary duff. anyone know what im talking about?

  5. They are pretty similar, but still quite easy to tell apart.

  6. John B,

    You truly have the gift of discernment.

  7. Use your Head, Pasden! Says: October 3, 2005 at 8:48 pm

    Smart guy as you are, dude – it’s the MAINLAND version of the film.

    Mandarin will be dubbed over a lot of scenes (most HK films are presented in mandarin dubs on the mainland screen these days). I’m confounded as to why it isn’t totally dubbed (the usual practice).

    I guarantee tha the Hong Kong edition has all the lingua-franca (including foreign workers no longer dubbed) of the different characters, as it should be.
    It doesn’t mean that the film will be any good. It sucks. However, your observation was a bit naive.

  8. I like their facial hair. It’s hot. Does Matt LeBlanc has a cold sore in one of those pictures? I would think with all the money he made from Friends, he could hop in his rocket car and drive accross town and get a new headshot–one where he didn’t have herpes. Or did you photoshop that cold sore in John? You sly devil.

  9. that last one looks like an older, beat Wilson Tai!

  10. Dear Condescending Commenter,

    Wow, I am so naive. Thanks for the enlightenment. I certainly never realized before that Hong Kong movies are actually dubbed for mainland China. Why could that be? Do they speak a different language in Hong Kong than Shanghai? That would be so crazy!

    Please send any other startling revelations this way. I can’t wait.

  11. So you’re saying you did photoshop the cold sore?

  12. Doom,

    I swear I have nothing to do with any cold sores Matt LeBlanc does or does not have.

  13. Prince Roy,

    Ha! I’m very curious what Wilson thinks about that…

    This also sort of indirectly relates Wilson to Matt LeBlanc, which is a very interesting comparison indeed!

  14. I wonder if Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer know anything about this (this being herpes).

  15. Hrm…vague resemblance, but without the facial hair it’d be harder to sell. I’m unconvinced. 🙂 Sad to hear The Myth sucks, but Jackie’s output lately has been in serious decline. I think it’s time for him to go behind the cameras and work with some of the up and comers. I’d like to see what he could do coaching Tony Jaa, personally.

  16. […] Sinosplice reviews the latest Jackie Chan movie, The Myth, and finds a strange hotch-potch of genres, cultures and languages. […]

  17. Carl: LOL.

    Doom: LOL.

    Prince Roy: I thought it was me at first glance =P

    John: I’m going to grow my hair longer, wear my Alain Mikli spectacles, grow a bit of turf in the shape of a goatee, return to New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty of visit Kiwi Chris, wear my red North Face jacket and waterproof storm boots, pose on a solid wood fence with hand rolled cigarette in hand, have Kiwi Chris take a snapshot, and finally, re-post here on Sinosplice – then we can take the comparisons to another level.

  18. Damn… that’s weird… it is Matt Leblanc’s Chinese twin. Funny…. I’ve seen so many people in China that do look just like some other non-Asian person I’ve seen somewhere else.

  19. I agree entirely here… and I agree with the Koizumi-Gere comparison too. (You’re off on the Katie Holmes one though.)

    I used to have that same experience of seeing Caucasian-Asian doubles too. I once had a student in Kunming whose name I said wrong a number of times, and then I realized the wrong name was the real name of a friend from a nerd camp I went to during high school. I have not, however, had the experience with stars… until now.

  20. I thought ‘The Myth’ was pretty good. I never appreciated Jackie Chan movies before until I watched this movie. Maybe Its because I watched it in Chinese with no subtitles – I thought it might have been considered an achievement to sit through a Chinese movie, understand and even laugh at a few of Chan’s ‘jokes’.

  21. Theory, theory, theory! According to Steve Hawkings and his colleagues, the universe is described in a collection of quantum time-space states and there are wormhole connecting the, thus giving basis to the much fancied time travel scenerios. On a more down to earth scale, the east and the west (similarly the north and the south) are quantum geographical conjugates, connected through the much sought after earth-core holes. John, you may have found the first evidence (biological evidence no less) for this theory.

  22. Correction: ….there are wormholes connecting them, ….

  23. Da Xiangchang Says: October 5, 2005 at 8:34 am

    Jackie Chan is a has-been, and I shall never forget the crime against humanity that was “Around the World in 80 Days.” I shall never ever forgive him for making that movie, nor will I ever forgive myself to paying to see it.

    Mallika Sherawat is SUPER hot, but hoey-looking. Whenever she goes out with Jackie to promote this movie, she’s dressed like a Van Nuys porn star. I’m all for showing flesh, but a little elegance goes a long way if you’re a real actress. (It’s also funny how Chinese posters always promote the Oriental girl as being pure [Kim See Heon] and the non-Oriental girl [Sherawat] as being the sexpot. It was the same with Rush Hour.)

    Matt LeBlanc and the Chinese guy look alike in so much as they have dark hair and two eyes, a mouth, etc. But generally, Caucasians and Asians don’t look alike AT ALL. (Though I always thought Zhang Ziyi looks a bit Caucasian from her side profile, esp. her [relatively] long nose. And no Caucasian is more Asian-looking than Bjork.)

    Conclusion: Forget “The Myth.” See the Korean movie “Oldboy,” by far the best damned movie I’ve seen this year!

  24. i see it. i think it’s actually in their bone structure. i so wish there was some way to get matt leblanc to see this entry! 😉

  25. lol~~
    Remember when u were still my teacher, and I once said that you look like the guy in pearl harbor, what’s his name hmmm~~~ cannot figure it out=S

  26. yes! I think I remember his name, the guy is called Ben Afflick. =)

  27. Yup.. i totally agree with ya.. when i watched the movie and ku came out i thought: matt leblanc acted in this? realised it was not possible immediately but…

  28. Quick confirmation from Hong Kong; indeed the foreign scenes are all non-Cantonese, with Chinese and English subtitles. Jackie Chan frequently switches between Cantonese and Mandarin; the Korean princess usually speaks Mandarin, and Mallika only speaks heavily accented English. A large portion of the movie is thus in a language other than Cantonese; the audience didn’t seem to mind though. From what I could judge, they had a ball and laughed a lot (first time I’ve seen that in a Hong Kong cinema).

  29. Ben,

    Thanks for that info. Interesting that they decided that the Cantonese audience could handle more foreign languages with subtitles than the mainland audience…

  30. I like this movie very very much. it’s a beautiful movie, smooth between past and present time, great music, action and acter and actress.
    Thank for doing this movie and waiting for a new one.

    Sound from Thailand

  31. I acctually haven’t seen this movie yet, but i am prepared to see a different jackie in this movie, since reading about it on the web and stuuff. i understand that there are many people that acctually don’t appreciate or like the change, or more rather ‘not used to’ the change, that Jacky has protrayed therefore thinking the movie boring. What’s with ‘jackie should look like….’ or ‘jackie should portray….’ or ‘it’s boring because he didn’t do what he did in the other movies…’ thing?
    to me he has really been sterotyped bad in people’s eye’s, and that makes his genre limited and maybe hard to see that he can be more than just action hero guy. from reading lost of reviews and one very deeply understanding comment from someone, i would think i will watch the movie with more note on the whole story and what message the movie is giving out, and not just enter and watch it becuase it will be like another typical Jacky chan movie. that way, i think i would be able to see more of character rather than just what everyone thinks what jacky chan should be…
    lol i think i’m being too critical on everyone….

  32. george ramos Says: January 5, 2006 at 7:03 pm

    Myth was an average movie except that beutiful temple and excellent indian martial art. What is the name of that martial artist who acted more time that that indian actress. Please give me his details. i like to study that art. Why u did not select a cultured woman like Aishwarya Rai for this movie??

  33. Da Xiangchang Says: January 6, 2006 at 10:02 am

    Forget Aishwarya Rai. She’s only famous because she has blue eyes–i.e., looks Western. And it’s a damn shame that Indian standards of beauty are still fixed rigidly to the West’s.

  34. no comments Says: January 22, 2006 at 1:52 pm

    You reall can’t say anything about Ash. Rai because she is deep down to earth person and a lot of ppl i know say that she represents classic indian beauty. Mallaika Serawat i think is more “Western” acting.

  35. no comments Says: January 22, 2006 at 1:54 pm

    BUt man are they Both Super HOTTTTTTTTTT

  36. gaurav subey Says: March 5, 2006 at 8:28 pm

    i loved the movie. I relly admired Kim Hee Seon. no doubt the jackie is awesome mallikw did great job too. on a whole i fell in love with kim hee seon

  37. DX: that is crazy talk. Aishwarya Rai keeps winning the awards for a reason…check out “Raincoat” if you think she’s a shit actress. Anybody who would say that knows nothing about Bollywood and is just mouthing off. For shame, Bollywood movies are the best!

  38. The myth is so cool and also sad because ok soo does not beleive that jack is the recarnation of meng yi. it’s sad but it’s got cool actions as well.

  39. I’m very like this movie so much. Romantic, cool, funny and sad also.
    I like the movie made in jacky chan also,all the best I think.

  40. all time super star jacke i like all the movie of chen but the myth was really very nice movie of jackie chen

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