I was curious to see this film after Chow Yun Fat claimed that the film would be likely to gross as much if not more in the Chinese box office as Avatar. The local reaction to Avatar has been phenomenal, so what chance does Confucius have?
Firstly, The Independent reported that Confucius was replacing screenings of Avatar at many Chinese cinemas, though the one I went to in Shenzhen was running the two side-by-side.
Distribution aside, Confucius serves up a quality-biopic of the famous philosopher which is grand in both its vision and in its cinematography. Its soundtrack features a well-known Chinese singer who was tempted back into recording for the film and a great cast to support Mr Fat’s efforts. It moves him away from being an action star to a character actor and will hopefully open a different set of doors for him in Hollywood in the future.
If you like Chinese epics like Red Cliff or the House of Flying Daggers then this is a good film for you to watch. I don’t think that it will excite western audiences like Avatar did, but that is less to do with the quality of the film and more to do with the audience’s cultural receptivity to it. It will be interesting to see how the domestic audience here in China receives it.