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Home  /  Inside China  /  Justified Remake? Liu Dehua and Gong Li meet at last in 'Wo Zhi Nuren Xin' - 'What Women Want'
Justified Remake? Liu Dehua and Gong Li meet at last in 'Wo Zhi Nuren Xin' - 'What Women Want' print version

Liu Dehua (Andy Lau) and Gong Li are the stars of Wo Zhi Nuren Xin, remake of US movie What Women Want, promoting the new trend of remaking Hollywood films in mainland China. How is the movie adpated to Chinese audience and how do the two mega-stars perform in their historical collaboration?

The day in which China remakes Hollywood movies, instead of the familiar opposite flow is already here, this time with a surprising choice of the 2000 Nancy Meyers film, What Women Want, originally starring Mel Gibson, Helen Hunt and Marisa Tomei. What made director Chen Daming (陈大明) choose this remake, is its relevance in the contemporary Chinese society, or a good excuse to unite mega stars Liu Dehua (刘德华, House of the Flying Daggers), known in the west as Andy Lau and Gong Li (巩俐, To Live, Raise the Red Lantern)?

The film tells the story of a slick advertisement manager Sun Zigang (孙子刚), played by Liu Dehua, who after a strange accident gains the skill of hearing women's thoughts, which also allows him to enter the heart of new company manager Li Yilong (李仪龙), played by Gong Li.

The plot and scenes resemble at most part the American version, though some adjustments and modifications were made, adapting to the Chinese crowd, and not less importantly, sewing a new film to fit the new bodies of stars Liu Dehua and Gong Li.

As for the latter motive, though Liu's casting is a financial success, his presence takes the sting out of the story. The transformation Mel Gibson's character made, from a chauvinist manly guy to a sensitive creature was much more dramatic, and eye-catching, than the change that the character of soft, pop-star, Liu undergoes. Though the plot leads him to interesting situations, a prominent change in his style and thinking doesn't take place. His role could fit better a more rusty Chinese actor.

On the other hand, the Chinese version Wo Zhi Nuren Xin (我知女人心) doesn't take the plot as seriously as the American version does. It seems that in Hollywood, even the most fantastic movies attempt to be realistic, trying to provide a serious explanation and a complete solution to every branch of the plot. The question whether people believes the main character  for having his new 'talent' and his lack of honesty are much less stressed in the Chinese version, compared to the Hollywood one, as in China, it seems that both creators and viewers know that this movie is mostly about fun and laughs and not deep morals or logic, and fantasy needs less to be explained. Wo Zhi Nuren Xin is much more of a 'high-class, good life, fashionable party' compared to American What Women Want, where Mel Gibson needs to sweat much more in order to obtain the forgiveness of his new sweetheart.

Almost needless to say, in terms of sexual conducts, the Chinese Wo Zhi Nuren Xin made some adaptations, like not making a dramatic first kiss between the characters of Liu Dehua and Gong Li, as well as screening out a sex scene, in which Mel Gibson and Marisa Tomei rolled underneath the sheets in the original What Women Want.

As for the performance of Liu Dehua and Gong Li, some would say that their attractive presence is enough to make the movie worthwhile and that one shouldn't be picky about their acting, while others would lament about the distance between past great performances of the two compared to this, rather pale, one. Perhaps the problem isn't the fact that Liu Dehua and Gong Li refrain from releasing their talent in Wo Zhi Nuren Xin, but rather that their acting skills were never quite made for these types of fantastic romantic comedies.

At the moment, Liu Dehua stars in two big blockbusters in China, Wo Zhi Nuren Xin and New Shaolin Temple (新少林寺 Xin Shaolinsi), and there's no doubt that the latter will do much better with his actor reputation. Nevertheless, seeing the two stars unite for the first times in their career isn't a thing of no importance. Adding to this the stylish clothes and the womanly touch expressed in the movie, girls are still likely to enjoy this one.


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