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Chinese Science Fiction Filmography (1958 – 2016)

As the Great Leap Forward were in its inception phase the first science fiction film, now available to watch, was released in China. The Ming Tombs Reservoir (Jin Shan/金山, 十三陵水库畅想曲) seemed like a suitable movie to start off the Great Leap Forward campaign with its utopian imagining – in the last 20 minutes of the film – of a communist society 20 years in to the future (1978). But the starting date for this filmography, and Chinese science fiction film in general, might as well have been 20 years earlier, in 1938, when Yang Xiaozhong (杨小仲) directed the film Visiting Shanghai After Sixty Years (六十年后的上海滩) with the famous comedy couple Han Langen (韩兰根) and Liu Jiqun (刘继群). Sadly this film, and also Yangs Exchange (化身人猿) from 1939, are no longer watchable since the films has been proclaimed lost by the China Film Archive (中国电影资料室). To my knowledge there are no earlier science fiction films from China but at one point in history there might have been though the wars and turmoil of pre-1949 China didn’t make it easy for nitrocellulose films to be kept in good condition.

Even though we are faced with some small hindrance when setting a date for the birth of science fiction film in China we are facing an even bigger obstacle when it comes to defining what science fiction really is. According to me science fiction film is a film which uses some form of idea, invention, geographical discovery to convey an image of an alternative society different from the one were living in now. So the appearance of futuristic technical gimmicks and/or inventions in the film is not necessary for defining a film as science fiction. On the contrary, some of the films I’ve watched has not gotten in to the list much because the science fiction elements in the movie is merely a way to get the story going and in the end they’re absent of context and doesn’t bring any further narrative development of the impact that scifi-gimmick might have had.

Take for example Bugs (食人虫, Yan Jia/严嘉), a catastrophe film from 2015 which begins with a foreign scientist trying to develop a protein, in order to end starvation in the world, by experimenting with insects. Instead of relief for starving people he creates a giant bug which sends out smaller bugs that eat human beings and then returns to its host to feed it. The entire movie, except for the first minute or two, is about escaping these bugs and then killing the big bug. It’s lack of motivating the science in the film and being consistent with it, made me choose not to have the film in my list. It’s pretty much the same when it comes to the rom-com film Oh My God (从天儿降, Wei Nan/魏楠, Wei Min/魏民, 2015) but here I reasoned differently mostly because the film has been advertised as a scifi-comedy whenever I read something about it. Therefore Oh My God is on the list.

Yes, the genre labeling for the films in the list might be a bit arbitrary and inconsistent at times but that’s also why I’m writing this blog post so that other people can have the chance to have a second opinion on the selection of films. At the end of the list I will add all those films which has been labeled as science fiction but which I personally didn’t consider to fulfill the requirements of falling under that category.

The reason that I haven’t got all science fiction films from 2016 in this filmography is because I haven’t watched all films from 2016 and therefore those films have not been validated. A bit of hubris from my side but It at least gives me the illusion of having some form of control. Worth mentioning is that the delimitation of this filmography is set up in such a way that only films from Mainland China (中国大陆) are included. I have also decided not to have short films (微电影) in the list.

For a more detailed account of the history of Chinese science fiction film and a closer analysis of the content of the films you’re welcome to read my master thesis on academia.edu.

“There is only one definition of science fiction that seems to make sense: ‘Science fiction is anything published as science fiction.'”
Norman Spinrad

 

Filmography[1]

1.Title 2. Production company 3. Country 4. Year 5. Director
1. 十三陵水库畅想曲 /

Ballad of the Ming Tombs Reservoir

Beijing Film Studio China (no subs) 1958 Jin Shan
2. 珊瑚岛上的死光 /

Death Ray on Coral Island

Shanghai Film Studio China (no subs) 1980 Zhang Fengmei
3. 潜影 /

Shadow of a Ghost

Guangxi Film Studio China (no subs) 1981 Guo Baochang,

Huang Ling,

Jiang Weimin

4. 错位 /

Dislocation

Xian Film Studio China (no subs) 1986 Huang Jianxin
5. 男人的世界 /

A Mans World

Guangxi Film Studio China (no subs) 1987 Wang Weiyi
6. 合成人 /

The Synthetic Man

Changchun Film Studio China (no subs) 1988 Wang Yabiao,

Yin Aiqun

7. 霹雳贝贝 /

Wonder Boy

China Childrens Film Studio China (no subs) 1988 Song Chong,

Weng Luming

8. 凶宅美人头 /

Headless Beauty in a Haunted House

Xian Film Studio China (no subs) 1989 Liu Yichuan,

Hu Qingshi

9. 魔表 /

Magic Armwatch

China Children’s Film Studio China (no subs) 1990 Xu Geng
10. 大气层消失 /

The Ozon Layer Vanishes

China Children’s Film Studio China (no subs) 1990 Feng Xiaoning
11. 荧屏奇遇 /

An Adventure in Time

China Children’s Film Studio China (no subs) 1991 Lu Gang
12. 隐身博士 /

Invisible Doctor

Xian Film Studio China (no subs) 1991 Zhang Zien
13. 毒吻 /

Deadly Kiss

Xian Film Studio China (no subs) 1992 Chen Xinzhong
14. 再生勇士 /

Reborn Hero

Shanghai Film Studio China (Chinese subs) 1995 Zhang Jianya
15. 疯狂的兔子 /

Crazy Rabbit

China Children’s Film Studio China (no subs) 1997 Cui Xiaoqin,

Meng Weibing

16. 危险智能 /

Dangerous Knowledge

China Children’s Film Studio,

China Film Group

China (English subs) 2003 Yu Xiaobing
17. 超能少年之列维塔任务 /

Ace Mission

Shanghai Media Group China (Chinese subs) 2009 Feng Danian
18. 天生幻想狂 /

I Love Fantasy

Beijing guangying bainian

wenhua chuanbo youxian

gongsi

China (Chinese subs) 2009 Bao Li
19. 火星没事 /

Mars Baby

China Film Group China (Chinese subs) 2009 Liu Yiwei
20. 超蛙战士之初露锋芒 /

Animen: Triton Forces[2]

Shanghai Hippo Animation Company China (English subs and dialogue) 2010 Xu Ke
21. 铠甲勇士之帝皇侠 /

Armor Hero Emperor

Pearl River Film Studio China (Chinese subs) 2010 Zheng Guowei
22. 异空危情 /

Virtual Recall

Wenzhou Aobang Culture Communication China (English subs) 2010 Zhang Haijing
23. 李献计历险记 /

Lee’s Adventure

Dessen International Media China (English subs) 2011 Guo Fan
24. 飞天 /

Shen Zhou 11

August First Film Studio China (English subs) 2011 Wang Jia,

Shen Dong

25. 塞尔号2: 雷伊与迈尔斯 /

Seer II

EE Media China (Chinese subs) 2012 Wang Zhangsuo
26. 无间罪: 僵尸重生 /

Zombies Reborn

Moyu Chunqiu Cultural Media Company, Hangzhou Guoying Culture and Creation Company China (English subs) 2012 Xia Yong
27. 超蛙战士之威武教官 /

Animen II

 Shanghai Hippo Animation Company China (English subs) 2012  Xu Ke
28. 来历不明 /

Unidentified

Bright Vision Films China (English subs) 2013 Chen Chutong

 

29. 十万个冷笑话 /

Ten Thousand Bad Jokes

Toon Max Media, Wanda Media China (English subs) 2014 Li Shujie, Lu Hengyu
30. 一万年以后 /

10.000 Years Later

Yili Film Studio China (English subs) 2015 Yi Li
31. 从天儿降 /

Oh My God

Starlit, China Film Group Corporation China (English subs) 2015 Wei Nan, Wei Min
32. 不可思异 /

Impossible

Star Union Skykee, Guangdong Pearl River Film Group Corporation China (English subs) 2015 Sun Zhou
33. 蒸发太平洋 /

Lost in the Pacific

China (Chinese subs), version with English dialogue does exist. 2016 Zhouwen Wubei

 


Films not included:

Bugs / 食人虫 (Yan Jia/严嘉, 2015): See comments higher up.

Parapax (Yin Xiang/胤祥, 2007) : A film which is more close to a thought experiment than a film. The movie tells the story of a woman who takes the role of three different women in three different lives/universe. The movie even comments on itself and speculates if it is a science fiction film. I myself don’t regard it as scifi maybe more of a Dogme 95 film.

Peking Monster / 北海怪兽 (Peng Lei/彭磊, 2006): The young Ta Nan (塔南) becomes the victim of a alien who has come to earth and study human behaviour. The alien gets inside Ta Nans head and the scientist Li Jiaqi (李家奇) helps him to get rid of the brain intruder. Knowing that the an alien invasion is imminent Li and Ta takes help from a monster who dwells under Beijing. The movie is made on a low-budget, fiilmed with a DV-camera and also some stop-motion with clay.

Red and White / 红与白 (Lu Xiaoya/陆小雅, 1987): At the Chinese movie site this films is labelled as science fiction but there’s nothing to the story or set design that sets this film out as science fiction. It’s about an hospital and their employees dealing with an ethical issue.

 

[1] Films listed in this filmography is attached with a hyperlink that allows you to access the source of the link and watch the film that you clicked on. Many of the films are from Youtube but some are also from Chinese streaming sites. Some of these Chinese sites will at times not allow you to access their sites. The reason for this differs but I hope you can enjoy all of them.

[2] This movie can also be found on Netflix (US).

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