February 17, 2006


Hu Ge's BLOODY CASE THAT STARTED FROM A STEAMED BUN, his tremendously popular online video parody of Chen Kaige's THE PROMISE, has done something THE PROMISE has not: entertained millions of Chinese people. But it's also managed to send Chen into a whirling frenzy, threatening lawsuits and hiring lawyers.

At a press conference in Berlin, Chen said, ""We have decided to sue the filmmaker, Hu Ge, for damaging the copyright of THE PROMISE. I can't imagine a man could be so impudent."

Hu Ge has publicly apologized to Chen Kaige but Chen has hired a lawyer who made the following statement:

"What matters is that Hu Ge repeatedly claimed in public that he didn't infringe on the copyright and Chen has no reason to sue him. This made my clients upset and they decided to protect their rights by law."

This rationale is from a very complicated piece of legal theory known as "So There!" law. Hu Ge claims he can't be sued. So Chen Kaige sues him and now Hu Ge is wrong. So There! The case hasn't gone to court yet, or been officially filed, but folks are saying it's a publicity stunt by a once-great director who has seen his reputation and career slipping away.

This isn't the first time Chen has freaked out in public. According to a sharp-eyed reader, back in 2005 at a pre-release press conference a reporter asked Chen:

"You said that your movie is related to your dignity, so what will happen if THE PROMISE bombs?"

Chen responded by bawling out the reporter who ran from the room. He also ducked out of his scheduled interviews after the Golden Globe when THE PROMISE failed to win anything.

Chen may hold the legal high ground (and according to Chinese law he'll probably win the suit) and he may also have won legal power points for his aggressive "So There!" prosecution, but Hu Ge is coming out of this a winner. He's been offered a job by a Guangdong TV station who want him to make more short films and public support is overwhelmingly on his side. Chinese internet portal Netease just conducted a poll and while 843 people supported Chen, 14,760 supported Hu Ge.

Even Chen Kaige's wives aren't in his corner on this one. His current wife, Chen Hong, has said that the parody is no big deal because it had no commercial motive and his former wife has posted on her blog, "He is too petty-minded to tolerate a little bun."

The media seems to be firmly on Hu Ge's side, claiming that at least his movie made them laugh whereas Chen's film just wasted their money. But their BS antennas were twitching like crazy and Wang Xiaoyu writing for Southern Metropolis Daily hit the target dead on with this comment:

"As Chen Hong said, Hu Ge's video clip has no commercial motive.  But the deceptive thing was that Chen Kaige was able to manipulate it for commercial publicity.  The current heated debate about the law is just a cover, because the identity of the final victor is immaterial.  Nobody loses: the plaintiff gets the "eyeball effect" and the defendant gets the support of the majority of netizens.  Everybody gets what they need."

(Many thanks to EastSouthWestNorth)

February 17, 2006 at 07:14 AM in News | Permalink


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