Could one piqued police officer have derailed “M:I3” in China?
Buzz is that a single member of Shanghai’s finest, after seeing the pic in a private screening, raised alarm bells to his superiors over the pic’s finale, in which noisy crimes are committed in the capital — all unnoticed by the city’s police force.
He has a point. Not a single uniform of the Chinese law enforcement authorities appears onscreen after an early rooftop scene.
But who would have thought that an error of omission, rather than one of commission, could have such consequences for the delicate bit of international diplomacy that resulted in the U.S.-Chinese co-production?
Last week saw plenty of evidence that film content remains a diplomatically precarious issue in the region.
Thailand and Cambodia came close to an international incident over the Thai movie “Ghost Game.” Ostensibly a generic horror film, its portrayal of events in a jail was too similar to that of real horrors in the Khmer Rouge’s notorious Toul Sieng prison. Like “M:I3,” “Ghost Game” had obtained the permits it needed, but the deaths of 2 million Cambodians under the Khmer are not easily forgotten.
In Sri Lanka, helmer Asoka Handagama was asked to return the release certificate for his “Letter of Fire.” Pic was previously screened in two foreign fest, but culture minister Mahinda Yapa Abeywardana deemed it unsuitable for general release, as it involves nudity and a 12-year-old murderer.
Meanwhile, distribs are furious that the “M:I3” delay and the new release blackout in China are gifts to video pirates.
As for the pic’s China release, it sounds like a mission for the editors.