Chinese romantic fantasy film ‘The Curse of Turandot’ wins worst movie of 2021
Published: Nov 21, 2021 06:18 PM
Promotional material of The Curse of Turandot Photo: Maoyan

Promotional material of The Curse of Turandot Photo: Maoyan

Chinese romantic fantasy film The Curse of Turandot has earned the “honor” of being the worst movie of 2021 after the hashtag for the worst movie of the year began trending on Chinese social media on Sunday.

The Curse of Turandot has a flashy list of famous people attached including director Zheng Xiaolong, who once directed the hit Chinese ancient costume drama Empresses in the Palace, reliable actors Jiang Wen and Hu Jun, actress Guan Xiaotong and foreign actors Dylan Sprouse and Sophie Marceau. 

Released in the Chinese mainland on October 15, the film only grossed 18.90 million yuan ($ 2.95 million), according to Chinese ticketing platform Maoyan. 

Media reported that the film’s screen share reached 20.7 percent on its premiere day, only slightly lower than that of The Battle at Lake Changjin. However, this quickly fell to 9.6 percent due to poor word of mouth. 

The film only has 3.2/10 score on Chinese media review platform Douban.

Many Chinese moviegoers complained that the actors are just playing themselves without any spiritual communications. 

Though the film draws inspiration from the well-known opera Turandot, it comes up with a nearly new story based on a Chinese novel name Sansezhuo (three-colored bracelet). 

Some film observers commented that the biggest problem for the film is that Zheng films it the same way as a TV drama, which led to a chaotic story narrative.

Shi Wenxue, a film critic based in Beijing, told the Global Times that the poor performance of The Curse of Turandot is mainly because the story’s core did not really respect the Chinese audience but tried to “please” moviegoers by using some Eastern elements.

“The film’s biggest bug is that the story is not a good story or an Eastern story. The production team just tried to add many Eastern elements to please Chinese audiences without having true soul, just like Disney’s Mulan,” he said.  

He pointed out that Chinese and foreign co-produced movies usually prefer fantasy themes as they tend to be easier to understand for both Eastern and Western audiences. However, the story of The Curse of Turandot itself is a bit too naive and lacks conviction.

Besides The Curse of Turandot, some Chinese netizens also listed reputed Hong Kong director Ann Hui’s film Love After Love, starring Ma Sichun and Eddie Peng, as the worst film of the year for its poor adaptation of Eileen Chang’s story Aloeswood Incense: The First Brazier.