Han Han: ‘Confucius’ Movie Gets 2 Points Only

Han Han is a famous post-80s generation professional race-car driver and best-selling author. He is also one of China’s most popular Chinese bloggers, and my own favorite.  — Fauna

From Han Han’s blog:

Watching Confucius

Today I went to see Confucius. Before I went into the theater, I stepped out for a moment to make sure of where my seat was, so as not to disturb others after entering. Once I got in, I regretted it. There weren’t even ten people in the theater and you could practically sit wherever you wanted.

In China’s ancient times, there were many “masters”, and although what they say today contradicts what they said in their own times [i.e., people’s interpretations of their meanings have changed over time], their meaning comes not from whether they spoke well enough but from whether they said enough things. In any time period, politicians have taken what they needed, [and gotten] both praise and blame. Confucius is one of the most meaningful of these people.

To tell the truth, I never felt there was much need to make movies on historical topics. From the perspective of film, it seems as though from their very birth, movies have been doing something that is very opposite from [the idea of] film: killing imagination. But it’s not necessarily true that China’s big historical epics lack in imagination, because the people who write them often create scenes that are diametrically opposed to actual history, so it’s really a collaborative thing [lack of imagination working together with imagination].

The reason most major Chinese blockbusters are historical epics or focus on historical figures is that the filmmakers and investors don’t feel safe. After investing such a lot of money, they feel completely trusting the screenwriters and directors to create a story is unwise, and if a director is somehow able to make their own investment and use creative freedom, the product is often even worse. All of this has become the tragic history of Chinese big-budget films. As for what Chow Yun-fat [the star of Confucius] said about “if you don’t cry after watching Confucius you’re not human”, I believe it’s a misunderstanding. It must have been at an internal meeting to watch the film that the filmmakers themselves cried. What they’re crying about is how many middle school classes and government offices they’re going to have to drag into theaters en masse to break even.

Confucius actor Chow Yun-fat showing his respect to a descendant of Confucius.

Forgetting about all the political factors and watching the movie just as a film, it is a losing film. What the film is preaching doesn’t leave any influence at all. When Confucius was on the screen talking about “rites” and “benevolence”, some guy to my side was having a ten-minute-long phone conversation. The war scenes in the film are like child’s play. The country of Lu cannot protect itself, but Confucius’s few disciples can drive back the enemy just by building a road block and firing arrows into the sky? Moreover, in the film, the dialogue between characters is not at all persuasive. It’s just like when you were small and your parents told you, “today’s work must be finished today”, but their words ultimately could not convince you. It is no longer an era where a “master” can say a few more lines and attract/trick people. From the movie, I found it very difficult to understand why Confucius’s team of workers continually followed him. In moments when the film was playing up the personalities of the characters, I had to endure ten minutes of the disciples continually yielding a bowl of horsemeat soup [to each other] to demonstrate their cohesiveness.  [I had to endure] because I had already endured the story of Confucius’s disciple [of a later generation] Kong Rong giving up pears to his elders throughout my entire childhood.

Ren Quan’s character unexpectedly dies in the end by freezing to death in icy water, which he’s gone into to save a book. This is not moving, it’s stupid. In a situation where the film hasn’t done enough and there’s nothing good about it, the protagonist being extremely satisfied [with the film] is illogical. In a situation where the implicit ideal [which was, in and of itself, unrealistic] has not even been successfully attained, there’s no hope of the movie being realistic. It’s like this: [imagine some] government leaders have been burned, and their secretary rushes in to a sea of fire and saves a copy of the Selected Works of Mao Zedong, but when he comes out he sees he’s only taken the first of two volumes, so he rushes back in, then saves another one and comes out, but as soon as he looks, fuck, it’s not two volumes but three, and even though he knows the house will collapse and he won’t be kay, he rushes in again [for the last volume], and the house collapses and he dies. As an audience member, do you think you could cry at this [movie]?

Zhou Xun as Nan Zi in the movie, Confucius.

Zhou Xun [the female lead] is only in the movie because the filmmakers felt a female would help diversify the film. She plays the part of Nan Zi [a historical princess of the Song Kingdom] and spends most of her time flirting with Confucius,but he’s all talk and no ‘action’, which made me nervous. In the end, she didn’t know why she was being shot to death.

I will give Confucius two points. First, because of Chow Yun-fat’s exciting performance in All About Ah Long I will give this movie one point for encouragement. I think if Chow had said “those who don’t cry aren’t people” about Ah long he might have been more correct. Also, because the director is female, I will encourage her with a point. But it must be said, that whether it’s this female director’s Confucius or another female director’s I am Liu Yuejin, their grasp of non-emotional films, especially the more complex/intricate ones, is rather weak. I don’t understand why they don’t make films about love or life [instead], which is what female directors are good at. Zhang Aijia’s Heartbeat or Xu Anhua’s Day and Night in Tianshui are good movies by female directors. Why should women embarrass themselves?

Finally, I want to say that the movie Confucius, whether it is from the perspective of cinematographic meaning, business profits, artistic merit, what it explores, its educational qualities, its historical accuracy, its entertainment value, its emotional resonance, etc.,  is completely unnecessary. It is a film that could be completely done without.

Translated by C. Custer, editor of ChinaGeeks.

Confucius says: The superior man is firm in the right way, and not merely firm. chinaSMACK personals.

READ  Han Han: 'Confucius' Failure Good For Chinese Cinema
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  • manusan

    They doesn’t care about the shop of Confucius, give them Avatar, Mickael Jackson and KFC.

  • Minor note — 光曰不日 isn’t “within the next few days;” it’s an earthy visual pun that’d be slightly more along the lines of “but it’s all ‘Confucius say,’ not ‘Confucius lay,'” or “but Confucius is all talk and no ‘action'” or something along those lines. Not that either of those is all that hilarious in English; there’s got to be a better translation out there somewhere.

    • Thanks Brendan; I was wondering if 日 was meant to be a double-entendre or not. I guess the lesson here is never bet against Han Han making a sex pun.

  • beowulf

    so….how was the movie?

    • Bill Dan

      Absolutely right. The ad hominem attacks and vapid jealously aganst the female lead is dominating this post. The vitriol against actresses (like Zhou Xun and Zhang Ziyi) from people in China is disturbing at best.

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  • Jade

    I was also tortured by the “giving up pear to siblings” story as a kid. Lols.I didn’t even grow up in China.

    Seriously, you are not going to hook young persons overseas with movies like this.

    My younger friends are crazy about Korean boybands :p Any suggestions on how to deprogram them?

    • Dave

      Beat them with a stick!

      • JoE

        Better yet, beat them with two sticks!

      • Alikese

        Wait, are these more sexual puns?

  • MD

    The chinese film industry is really just another organ of the communist party, that’s why many people will probably feel the same as Han Han… this kind of behaviour will not change anytime soon… Chinese are actually very innovative, but that really depends on how much the party are willing accept…

    • JoE

      Innovation…uh huh.

  • Joon

    Hehe…”Confucius is one of the most meaningful of these people“ Ididn’t even have to look at the Chinese to know that that was a LAZY translation, the kind of stuff you write when you have 30 seconds left on the clock in an exam…not that I blame you

  • Chinglish

    “孔子”這部電影我想我是不會看的。如果一個沒有熟讀過“論語”的人在說到有關孔子及“論語”時指手劃腳,那真的是太可笑了。Teacher Kong is the greatest educator in the world since the human being was created.”Lunyu”(Bible of Ju) fosters the Han Chinese personalities.请不要玷污孔子及儒学。

  • Mechanized

    Confucius say man standing on toilet is high on pot.


    WELL, i havent seen the movie yet but i think Chow yun-fat is a great actor, i got a very good first impression of him from the movie “THE CHILDREN OF HUANGSHI” and Hence have admired his works. About Zhou XUn, she is a chinese beauty with an intimidating voice of which makes her an attractive woman.
    About confucius, fuck him, he was just another jackass who was trying to become a buddha of eastern China.

  • mx

    ha i was just wondering why you didn’t publish more of hanhan’s blog posts.
    the recent two blocked ones are very funny, 兰州悲剧 and 猜想. but i’m not ture, maybe your website will get in trouble if you publish their english translations.

  • Python

    Hope Hanhan was just continuing his cynicism to entertain us but this post has gone a little far. I haven’t seen the movie so I can’t make a comment about it. However, giving two “encouragement” points for Chow Yun-Fat’s role in another movie made *twenty* years ago and for the director’s gender? “I don’t understand why they don’t make films about love or life [instead], which is what female directors are good at”? Sorry but I just can’t treat this article as a serious movie review.

    • B. Prichard

      Yup, he really drove home the sexism there at the end. Han Han’s a twat.

      • ImmortalTechnique

        Right, by that logic, a director like Katheryn Bigelow should’ve abstained from making THE HURT LOCKER and make movies like MY SUPER EX-GIRLFRIEND instead!

        People who have shit taste in movies should pipe down and watch Transformers 2 and STFU.

  • “When Confucius was on the screen talking about “rites” and “benevolence”, some guy to my side was having a ten-minute-long phone conversation.”

    What a wuss, I would have told him to shut the fuck up. Why do so many Chinamen admire someone so spineless?

    • I think his point was that the movie was so boring that people were making phone calls, not that his experience was disturbed by someone on the phone…

      • HaamSapTjai

        It’s an irony joke, when Confucius was talking about “rites” and “benevolence” that dude was talking over the phone (being inconsiderate just when Confucius was lecturing about being polite, show respect and think of your fellow men etc etc)

    • gookywhoreansteals

      because that chinese guy was propbaly busy phoning to south whorean embassy in bejing and telling those fucken south whorean gooks : get ur fucking dirty gooky hands off Confucius , he is 100% chinese not you motherfucker filthy inferior slave race whorean theives,

      hanha was impressed then i suppose

    • Mike Fish

      I think the point is he wasn’t at all bothered by the call and was likely happy he could finely hear some decent dialogue.

      On a side not PP… you still suck.

  • Of Canada

    And to think the Chinese government pulled Avatar out of all but the more expensive 3D screenings so those who can’t afford the more expensive tickets have to go watch this movie instead. Soon they will be giving out free tickets to companies to give their employees to fill up the seats and save face. If I was a theatre owner I’d be pissed at this kind of meddling that screws up my profit.

    • Jean

      i read that the reason they pulled avatar out was because foreign films just have like 10 days of screening and avatar already passed those 10 days.

      One of the reason that people are not going to the theater to watch Confucius is because they already wasted their money watching Avatar. Some people go to the theater like two or more times just to watch that movie!

    • Spanky

      I don’t know about that. Saw the 2D version of Avatar in Shanghai and it was empty (get a headache watching 3D). The concurrent 3D showing was sold out.

  • pancho

    I love Chow Yun fat’s old Hong Kong Movies Hard Boiled and a better tomorrow were the best!
    Why does he not need to reload in any of his movies is because he is magic thats WHY!?


  • Welcome to ChinaSMACK Custer!

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  • Shanghairocks

    What you are watching is not Confucius; but, loneliness :p

  • 傻子

    fucking chinese movies. nothing good has come out since Crows and Sparrows.

  • Celkian

    I hope we see more translated blog posts like this in the future

  • dirtywhiteboy

    Chinese movies = garbage
    孔子 = douche bag

  • The John

    Well, I for one really like Confucious. I think problem with people is that they look at him as some weak wannabe philosopher. In reality, he was the opposite. He was as strong as he was moral. He also sacrificed a lot. At the same time, he was humble and not a perfect human being. He even lied. Yet, his strength in wanting to be a better person was what inspired most. Also, keep in mind… Confucious was NOT the first moral intellectual in China. Im not even sure if I can call him the most important one. But, he was important. I like him.

    The problem I have with the movie is it’s willingness to show a seemingly perfectly moral individual. If han han (the joke) wanted to write a great article, I wish he addressed this point. There were so many things this film could have talked about, but skipped over… all in the goal of showing off Mr. Perfect Confucious.

    There was no mention of:
    The transformation he had to go through in order to become benevolent. Why his students were so loyal. And many other stories. If I was writing this movie, there were a lot of other events I would have shown.

    The stupid guy jumping into the river… I don’t want to get started on that. But, I believe Confucious should have taught him better. In fact, he taught his students politics as well. He knew how to deal with society in a complex way.

    BUT! The biggest travesty of this film is that it avoids the juicy stuff. Confucious was humble, but he had balls. He never believed in honoring a corrupt government. He was very anti-corruption. He believed the government represented the people. IF they became corrupt, so did the people. Why was there VERY LITTLE mention of this in the film… OH… I know why…

    Unfortunately, this film makes Confucious look silly instead of interesting…

    With that said, I still enjoyed it to some degree and the film wasn’t THAT bad. I hope more female directors can work in China. Chou Yun Fat is an amazing actor and in this film he still kicks ass.

  • Dongdong

    “I don’t understand why they don’t make films about love or life, which is what female directors are good at.”

    Haha, so stupid. Yeah, and men should go hunting to provide them food while they are making up these girly stories.

  • Yin

    All moral philosophers in China were against corruption. It’s common sense. I don’t think you can be pro-corruption and still consider yourself a moral philosopher. Even the Legalists, who were essentially proto-fascists, were against corruption by virtue of being against inefficiencies of the state.

    To understand the value of a philosopher’s teachings, you have to read between the lines. Confucius was against corruption, true, but he was also for graded love – for serving your family and those closest to you, first. This principle directly ties into the guanxi system and indirectly results in corruption by virtue of nepotism and other clan-centric behavior. Of course, if you ask Confucius he would probably say that corruption exists because of lack of virtue, not because of guanxi, but this simply shows that his understanding of human nature is inherently flawed.

    Still, for a man who purportedly lived in 500 BC (around the same time as Socrates, and before Aristotle), it was an impressive start to synthesizing the various moral ideas floating around at the time.

    • rui

      Graded love is inevitable since people are by nature selfish. They’ll always love themselves (or their family/friends/in-group) more than others. (For an explanation of altruism, see The Selfish Gene.)
      Better to acknowledge it and channel it towards good rather than try to stamp it out altogether.

      • The John

        I’d would like to see some proof where Confucius said that serving people close to you was more important that helping others. He believed in filial piety to some degree, but I never heard him say, “take care of your own first.” As I believe, didn’t he leave his wife to strive for ideals. This hardly sounds like serve those close you first…

        Also, keep in mind… Guanxi is a doubled edged sword that can be used for both good and evil. Most people only see the evil use of it. Guanxi, doesn’t HAVE TO be used for corruption. In fact, I would are that people that use guanxi for corrupt means are only hurting themselves more or placing themselves at great risk. So, I don’t see the validity of your arguement…

        • beowulf

          Lun Yu 13-18

          “The Duke of Sheh informed Confucius, saying, “Among us here there are those who may be styled upright in their conduct. If their father have stolen a sheep, they will bear witness to the fact.”
          2. Confucius said, “Among us, in our part of the country, those who are upright are different from this. The father conceals the misconduct of the son, and the son conceals the misconduct of the father. Uprightness is to be found in this.”

          • The John

            Take from wiki:
            E. Bruce Brooks and Taeko Brooks, in their work The Original Analects, suggest an alternative interpretation of the chapters’ organization, based on language usage patterns within the text. This work suggests that the text of the Analects as we have received them is heavily accreted, and represents the additions of many generations of school heads. Due to the changing political, social, and cultural environments, different heads of the Confucian school chose to praise or denigrate different of their predecessors, and even described very different social practices and ritual environments. Brooks and Brooks view a subset of Analects 4 as representing the ideas of the original Confucius, who lived during a time when the traditional bonds of a warrior-based, personality-based society were breaking down to change to a more mediated society with a broader nobility from the old military elite and with less direct access to the king: these early chapters represent the old military ethic of extreme faithfulness to superiors and paternal care for inferiors, with almost no emphasis on mannered ritual, as chronologically later chapters might suggest.

            Lun Yu 13-18 was not actually written by Confucius. Althouth, it uses his name.

            Here is something from annalect 4:

            The Master said, ‘In serving your father and mother you ought to dissuade them from doing wrong in the gentlest way.

            The Master said, ‘The gentleman understands what is moral. The small man understands what is profitable.

            The Master said, “If the will be set on virtue, there will be no practice of wickedness.”

            1. The Master said, “Riches and honors are what men desire. If it cannot be obtained in the proper way, they should not be held. Poverty and meanness are what men dislike. If it cannot be avoided in the proper way, they should not be avoided.
            2. “If a superior man abandon virtue, how can he fulfill the requirements of that name?
            3. “The superior man does not, even for the space of a single meal, act contrary to virtue. In moments of haste, he cleaves to it. In seasons of danger, he cleaves to it.”

            If you have understood all of that. I don’t see how Confucious supported corruption or covering up people’s wrong doing…

          • beowulf

            “Lun Yu 13-18 was not actually written by Confucius. ”

            The whole Book was not written by Confucius.

            “I don’t see how Confucious supported corruption”
            I have never said or suggested that. Kong Zi was clearly against corruption. No doubt about that.

            “or covering up people’s wrong doing…”

            “People” and “Family” are not the same. It is also not about covering up someones wrong doing, but about filial piety.

            I am just trying to say, that the family itself has a higher status then strangers or even laws.
            Like rui said: “They’ll always love themselves (or their family/friends/in-group) more than others. ”

            This does not mean that they should not help strangers or break the law, I am talking about the priority.

  • Hongjian

    Confucius is shit. His moral teachings is based on the assumption of a ‘good’ human nature, that is able to do something out of ‘virtue’, ‘love’ and ‘benevolence’.
    Humans arent ‘good’. Humans are evil by nature, so only harsh punishment and the threat of death can teach them proper ‘virtues’ and ‘love’, that stabilizes a society. This positive view of human nature is the inherent flaw in Confucius’ thinking – just like it was in Marx thinking, resulting in the inevitable failure of the communist ideology.

    Luckily the legalists oppossed confucius, oppressed his disciples and combatted the stupid confucianist ideology.
    Their greatest contribution to confucianism was to fusion it with their violence-based, facists state doctrine to make it actually applicable to the real world.

    • Mike Fish

      Hongjian has had a really sad life that he thinks all people are by nature evil. Must have been picked on or abused.

  • …he who goes to bed with sex problem, often wakes up with problem in hand.

    • Tumult

      …or the solution ;)

  • Epics don’t all have to be bad, but they can certainly be uninspired. For every Gladiator, there’s ten 300, or Alexander or something like that.


  • Evangeline

    Just give us a break, for once, at lease we can try to make some great movies just because people here can enjoy it without been forced to be only access to the movies connecting with politics or with the intention to raise people’s national patriotism .

  • bingo

    The superior man is modest in his speech, but exceeds in his actions.

  • Zebadee

    This is a state-sponsored film so the bullshit is gonna pile up thick and fast.

  • Bugged

    awwh man and they booted avatar for this?

  • mx


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  • RC Shuaige

    After reading these blogs I find myself disappointed in Chinese quality of movie criticism. As a foreigner and as a student of Chinese history I look for more and more knowledge of the truthful history of China NOT flying people walking through fire and on tree tops with no truth. It seems that the only quality of Chinese viewers is found in violence and KunFu. I enjoyed Confucius movie but must ask what parts is true or make believe.
    It cannot be denied, Confucius is most influential because he was a teacher, philosopher and writer, a man of ethics, not for his war or political life. The world needs more people like Confucius, Mahatma Gandhi, teachers who improve peoples character, truthful teachers not religious teachers or warriors.

  • 2manyLosers

    Sometimes I would think Confucius is still ahead of us in times, people these days still won’t have half the brain to comprehend what he is really trying to teach.

    Confucius is older than Christ and he deserves respect and he emphasized so much on education and virtue.

    When I look at modern society it makes me rather depressed.

    Confucius also knew there humanity were full of losers such as the China smack ones in here who make lame one line comments.

    It’s rather immature when you read people posting stupid Confucius jokes as if they were even funny.

    Get a life, those jokes are old and they were never funny.

    This world is getting dumber by the day.

    By the way Avatar sucks, advertisers hype it up and Hollywood controls your little pea brain.

  • Confucius may have it’s critics, both factual and political, but the film still looks glorious and the performance of Chow Yun Fat is truly outstanding. I think many people are coming at it with almost ‘too much knowledge’. It will hit a wider audience here in the UK tomorrow (Monday 4th Oct), when Cine-Asia release it on DVD and Blu-ray – I think that there will be a lot of people that will appreciate the quality and the introduction to one of history’s greats

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