China’s Hottest New Director, Han Han Accused of Plagiarism

"The Continent," directed by Chinese racer

Han Han, the Chinese celebrity blogger and car racer, has been blasted by charges of plagiarism only days after his film directorial debut “The Continent” passed $100 million at the box office.

“The exposure of ingenious fraud Han Han will be the biggest scandal of the Chinese literary world,” said Tsingua University professor Xiao Ying, writing in the state-controlled China Youth Daily.

“The Continent” is a contemporary aspirational tale structured as a road movie featuring two young men form eastern China. Released at the end of July it has grossed $100.1 million in 25 at the box office, making it one of the biggest Chinese films of the year.

Xiao accused Han Han of using ghost writers to produce the screenplay. And he itemized a list of Hollywood and Chinese movies including “Thelma & Louise,” “Easy Rider” and “Love Is Not Blind” that it ripped off.

Xiao described Han Han as “fuelling media hype of vulgar entertainment” and peddling “a brand name of anti-intellectualism that has poisoned Chinese culture and must be cleansed.”

His accusations have sparked a wave of Internet and social media debate. Han Han, who in 15 years of blogging has appeared as a voice of China’s youth, sometimes pro-reform, other times anti-revolutionary, has some 40 million followers online.

Other reviewers have suggested that the film borrows too heavily from the canon of Jia Zhangke with references and plot structures derived from “The World,” “Still Life,” “Unknown Pleasures” and the still unreleased “A Touch of Sin.”

However, the China Youth Daily later also published another story which described Xiao’s accusations as “groundless” and “possibly libellous.”

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