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So Close to Paradise (1999) and The Missing Gun (2002): Hollywood Models and the Production of Film Noir in Chinese Cinema at the Turn of the Twenty-first Century

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image of Journal of American-East Asian Relations

Film noir is new to the cinema of the People’s Republic of China. It was not easy for noir’s dark themes and nihilistic tone to get past the state’s strict censorship; however, at the turn of the twenty-first century, a few noir films were produced. Chinese noir has a strong affinity with American film noir in its representation of social and spatial transformation and exploration of critical issues under strict censorship. This essay presents a close analysis of So Close to Paradise (Wang Xiaoshuai, 1999) and The Missing Gun (Lu Chuan, 2002) and argues that Chinese noir is a creative and localized adaptation of a Hollywood genre. Innovative in their application of noir form and style, these films criticize corruption and class conflict in contemporary China and reflect ordinary people’s feelings of alienation and frustration provoked by the transformation of urban space. This essay also studies the strategies the two films employ, such as ambiguity and genre hybridity, to get past official censors while still maintaining their critical depth and subversive messages.

Affiliations: 1: Illinois State University, Email:


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