'Fast and Furious 9' breaks pandemic records but sees poor word-of-mouth in China
Published: May 23, 2021 09:56 PM
The photo taken on May 15, 2021 shows the poster of ‘<em><em>Fast and Furious</em> 9</em>’ in a subway station in Beijing, capital city of China. Photo: CFP

The photo taken on May 15, 2021 shows the poster of ‘Fast and Furious 9’ in a subway station in Beijing, capital city of China. Photo: CFP

While Universal Pictures' action film Fast and Furious 9, which premiered in the Chinese mainland on Friday, enjoyed the highest-grossing opening weekend for a Hollywood movie in China since the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic, the film only managed to score a low 5.6/10 on Chinese review site Douban, where Chinese moviegoers are calling it "the worst in the franchise" for its "outrageous plot." 

According to Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan, Fast and Furious 9 had earned 789 million yuan ($123 million) as of Sunday afternoon, accounting for about 80 percent of the total weekend box office. Its premiere day's box office reached 317 million yuan, more than twice of that of Warner Bros monster film Godzilla vs. Kong (137 million yuan).

As to other new films, Chinese film Love Will Tear Us Apart earned 183 million yuan, followed by the re-screening of Japanese romance Love Letter with 44.79 million yuan and Chinese Cantonese musical White Snake with 2.85 million yuan.

"Fast and Furious 9 is sure to top Godzilla vs. Kong to become the highest-grossing Hollywood blockbuster in China since 2020, but due to its current poor word-of-mouth, it is unlikely to break the 2.67 billion yuan record set by Fast and Furious 8. It might be able to earn about 2 billion yuan in the Chinese mainland," Xiao Fuqiu, a film critic based in Shanghai, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Currently, Fast and Furious 9 has a 5.6/10 score on Douban, the lowest score for any film in the franchise. 

The hashtag "Fast and Furious 9's word-of mouth" has earned 360 million views, with most Chinese moviegoers complaining that the drag racing and fights in the movie were "outrageous" and that the plot was illogical. 

Shi Wenxue, a film critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times on Sunday that the reason why Fast and Furious 9 gained such a low score was mainly due to its illogical plot including the character Han Lue's death and resurrection, which shows that no matter how much danger the protagonist is in, the protagonist will never get hurt.

"The most bizarre part is that a car can be launched into the sky with a rocket attached to it. The series is now closer to the style of Transformers and Star Wars," said Shi.

"The ninth film did not really resonate with audiences, but only piled up scene after scene of drag racing, action and explosions. The protagonist seems to have become a superhero in the Marvel universe, which makes the series of Fast and Furious be more exaggerated and like a science fiction movie. It has lost the true essence of this series," Xiao echoed. 

Fast and Furious 9 opened in eight worldwide markets this weekend, including the Chinese mainland, South Korea, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It will debut in North America on June 25.