What Chinese viewers think of *The Last Jedi*

For China’s small but enthusiastic subculture of Star Wars fans, the latest film was a visual feast hampered by a protracted plot and uninspired characters. On popular review website Douban, the new film is rated a fairly weak 7.3, based on over 43,000 reviews. The most upvoted review complains that “the whole film really insults the IQ of its audience,” and demands to know how the universe could possibly be ruled by such an incompetent Galactic Empire. “In Star Wars, it seems only Darth Vader had a brain — it’s such a shame he’s already dead,” the reviewer concludes.


Other factors, according to Chen, include Chinese audiences’ preference for physically attractive protagonists and stories rooted in reality. He points out that, for example, superhero films from Marvel — a Disney cash cow that has enjoyed great success in China — feature recognizable settings, such as New York and even China, and are filled with larger-than-life leads who meet the public’s aesthetic standards. The Star Wars characters, meanwhile, look ordinary by comparison.

“These actors aren’t very beautiful, which may deter a lot of Chinese from seeing the recent films,” said Chen. “We fans often joke that if Finn were played by Will Smith, Chinese people might be more inclined to watch it — because he’s very handsome.”

Here is more from Sixth Tone.


I snuck in for the last half hour, which wasn't too bad.

But my question is: why isn't Oscar Isaac the main star of this series? He looks like if Al Pacino had been cast as Han Solo in 1977 and he's a quality actor with some star power. He even has Intersectionality Pokemon Points as some kind of Middle Eastern Latino.

So why do all these various duds have more important roles than Isaac does?

Well, the Asian character Rose was thrown-in precisely to make the movie more palatable to Chinese audiences. Pay attention, and you will see this at work in many blockbusters, many of which are partly financed by the Chinese.

I believe the actor who plays Rose is Vietnamese. To Americans, that might be "potato, potaahto", but I'm sure the Chinese would notice.

She’s also frumpy. Why would Chinese people be inclined to pay to see a frumpy Vietnamese lady?

Did you just fat shame this young lady?

Well.... someone needs to.

Horrible actress. Boring character.

Boring character, yes. Until the actress is given something to work with, I'll reserve judgment on her talent.

She's downright ugly though, wouldn't they prefer an attractive Asian actress? Check out her sister, she is very attractive and she should have gotten the role.

"But my question is: why isn’t Oscar Isaac the main star of this series? He looks like if Al Pacino had been cast as Han Solo in 1977"

Apparently Lucas was able to make do with Harrison Ford back in the day.

It seems like Isaac's ended up being considered as a bit of interesting character actor.

Plus, as far as the story structure of the new Star Warses is concerned, 30-something men don't seem on the cards for story focus. It's not like that doesn't work for modern movies or anything (Guardians of the Galaxy), so possibly just not what Disney are going for.

Off topic, I was surprised that it seems like the lead actors in the new movies actually have slightly older ages on average than their 70s equivalents. But doesn't really feel so much like they do, or that the movies are about characters who are growing up.

Isaac's most it's-all-about-me role to date has been A Most Violent Year.

China has no SJW culture and Star Wars have been overrun by SJWs, amazingly they don’t like it. Weird.

Kathleen Kennedy may not last. Bummer.

Obviously this latest film portrays a more egalitarian universe, a universe that reflects an uglier, dumber and more egalitarian America since Star Wars Episode IV was made in 1977.

Evidently, they have a much better sytem in place (do you remember a time when the right wing did not take their cues from Mao's heirs?).
Also evidently, Star Wars had a much bigger "IQ" back in, say, the prequels. An the Empire was much more intelligent when Lord Vader allowed the Death Star plans escape between his fingers because apprently he never heard of droids.

Watch rogue one and you know that Vader was a bit time pressed. On top of that in the confusion of a ship boarding you don't always control every minute detail.

I think Sord is referring to episode IV when the gunners on the star destroyer let the escape pod go because there was no sign of life on it. Uh oh....

The Chinese have a derisive term for social justice warriors: Baizuo.

The despised "White Left". Elegant term, captures so much.

Also 'bugmen'. A nation ostensibly ruled by a communist party is making fun of american leftists for being too extreme.

If you filled the cast with white, good looking men, the movie would still suck. PSST. It's not the women and diversity that is the problem.

True, but the people who make diversity a priority also make the crappiest movies. Correlation isn't causation, but noticing it is a good way to save $15.

Balderdash. X-Men, though having some rough days, is inherently diverse and has some really good stories. Hunger Games, although centered on a white woman, has a diverse set of characters.

In most stories, there is little reason why a character HAS to be white, or any particular ethnicity. Unless the ethnicity is explicitly tied to the character's story, anyone could be cast in anything. Black Panther is set in an African nation so it will of course have a mostly-black cast.

In the end, it doesn't really matter about WHO is in it. It matters if the story is compelling. It's all about the stories.

While not disagreeing with your point in general, The Hunger Games had what, a white female protagonist, her white male friend, her white male partner, a white male villain, a white male coach, a white female in silly costumes... I mean, I know there were people in it who weren't white, but I couldn't tell you what any of them actually did in the movie.

The Hunger Games is pretty dire, but at least they tried to cast people who either look and act like movie stars (Jennifer Lawrence), who aren't movie stars but who at least look like they could be (her two beaus and Lenny Kravitz), or who don't look like much like movie stars anymore but are really good screen actors (Woody Harrelson and Stanley Tucci).

Recognizable settings make even superhero movies realistic.
Or, the original Star Wars, which was filmed on location, was much more believable than the sequel trilogy, which was filmed in front of a green screen.

I always thought the realistic setting is what made 1984 so possible.

But the plot just sucks, there isn't any way around it, and it an insult to the viewers intelligence. The critics who like it are playing up this nonsense "fighting for the soul of star wars" angle but the movie makes no sense.

Go to the casino planet and find this specific man! ... Or else any rando out the jail will do!

I know I'll crash our last ship into our pursuers to buy the shuttles time, why didn't I think of that in the first place!

Oh my god it's the giant cannon based on Death Star tech! That was hidden on the right side of their flag ship, the only piece of the fleet not destroyed, dastardly!

Here comes Rey in the Falcon! But I thought she was in Snoke's escape ship? Who cares!

The plot and writing is just bad. Didn't Rogue One show how easy it is to make a good Star Wars movie?

You plagiarized this

I don't know whether this post is plagiarized, but the point is valid. The plot of this movie is very poor.

Quite right, and generally, he Star Wars franchise is the equivalent of a dolphin bringing you little prices of garbage it keeps hidden underneath a rock.

Disagree, the original trilogy were good stories with dynamic characters and mostly sensible plot lines

The plots of the new movies are bad because the focus isn't on telling a good story but rather on SJW-style inclusiveness, toy selling, establishing a broad and shallow appeal, and finally cheap "fanservice" to placate the actual core fans.

They're entertaining movies, but shitty star wars films.

Also, as a thought experiment, imagine 3 reasonable plot lines the next movie could possibly have, using the characters available. Leia will have to be croaked off screen, probably in the opening credits. The main bad guy will have to be... the Force itself? Or will it be the First Order with a new Superweapon (mind control ray?) that a small ship full of guerrilla resistance fighters take down? Or will there not be a superweapon, and it's a story about forming The Recalcitrance to topple the First Order.

The Force Awakens was an ok movie except for the fact it provided no direction for the next film. The Last Jedi burned all directions down to the ground.

"The most upvoted review complains that “the whole film really insults the IQ of its audience,” and demands to know how the universe could possibly be ruled by such an incompetent Galactic Empire." Is the reference to the U.S.?

Moreso a reference to the id of a disgruntled civilization that consistently believes it is centre of the earth, history and heaven.

So it's about both the US and China?

Well, one of them is a 3 millennia+ civilization of amazing sophistication that's 1/5th of the planet in population, the other is some persecuted religious nuts from Europe (plus assorted people from all over the work coming for the money) that took a large piece of land from indigenous people and created the most prudish, self-righteous, and ignorant state on the planet, where 60% still believe in ...angels, and are having a moron from President for the 3rd time since 2001. So...

Presumably not, if this was written on a chinese language forum for the consumption of chinese people.

Probably talking about the stupid plot holes caused by objectively terrible leadership in the new stories and the frustrating ambiguity about how defeated the empire is/was and how powerful the new order is.

Hollywood is dumbing down its content to appeal to falling average IQ around the globe (and in the USA). China is not entertained.

I think the average IQ is rising abroad. It's only here in the US where it's falling.

Made a quick Google search. The largest audience group in the US is 18-24 year olds. In China is 21-30. We change very fast at that age. The movie that makes cry an 18 yo will put him to sleep 5 years later.

Also, poverty in China. People that pays for the movies are the intelligent and affluent. In the US almost anyone can go to the movies, the whole IQ bell curve. The proper comparison would be median Chinese (for whom movies are a luxury) vs median American, not rich Chinese vs median American.

Finally, I've seen a lot of frustration in rich and young Chinese. Their parents told them America or Europe were better based on their aspirational expectations. The children discover the real America and find how lowbrow it is, on average.

Ironically, there's nothing more lowbrow that taking Star Wars seriously. It's a children movie, don't overthink.

"Ironically, there’s nothing more lowbrow that taking Star Wars seriously. It’s a children movie, don’t overthink."

Oh no you di-int! Even faerie stories have a certain logic to them. If they say the name Beetlejuice three times, the spirit will appear. The carriage, made from a pumpkin, will return to a pumpkin at midnight. The rules are established, and the rules get followed. This movie had a serious lack of logic, making it unsatisfying for adults and children.

If you think that you can just give children garbage, you have very low expectations of children. I mean, they may be happy with it, but that's only because they don't have the experience to know that things can be better. They can also appreciate good and deep stories, too.

Logic fails? Plotholes?

Take Marvel universe movies. They're entertaining and plotholes are the topic of conversation after the credits end. They're something people love to hate.. If they weren't there, the product would be less good. They make fans fell intelligent and spark conversations......in this kind of big budget movies I wonder if plotholes are accidental or by design.

I suppose it is nice to make the new world of Star Wars more diverse but do those characters also have to be so boring. Laura Dern has talent but she is miscast while the character is poorly conceived and written. Finn seems more like a token black guy because his character is so shallow.

Luke is what? A once-promising Jedi who is now a boring hermit (who burns books?). No wonder Mark Hamill is in so little demand as an actor. Less interesting than an old high school jock who has spent the last thirty years on a bar stool.

The Rey character lacks emotions and charisma. Her interaction with other characters lacks any chemistry. Two strangers at a bus stop have more interesting encounters then Luke and Rey.

Adam Driver is an awful actor. Kylo Ren is a character without a story to tell.

Carrie Fisher, perhaps due to drug use or the effect of drugs to treat her bipolar condition, is so lacking in emotion or energy that her role falls flat.

Poe Dameron, or the actor who portrays him, is an amazingly stupid character. If the character, or the actor, was much younger you could understand the mistakes and risks he takes, but as a more mature character, his actions look foolish and stupid. Did they want to make this guy look so stupid? Why?

The first Star Wars had pace, energy, humor, human interaction. It was a series of cliffhangers,

This is not an awful movie. Visuals are nice. But hardly a great movie.

Luke's story of going into isolation makes no sense either. He spent the full Return of the Jedi believing he could save his tainted father, and succeeding after a fashion. So when is much younger in training nephew also appears tainted he decides to spend a movie saving him right?!

No he decides to murder him in his sleep, but fails then feels bad about it and so goes into hiding.

I'm doing my best to look at The Last Jedi as a standalone movie. Forgetting his previous arcs, the fact he left a map so he could be found, etc. He said the Jedi must die, torched the temple with Yoda's blessing (???), and in the very end triumphantly declared the Jedi would live on, with nothing in between to change his mind. Within the context of the movie, Luke is incomprehensible.

I actually started to like Darth Emo and Rey, although my third favorite character(s) were the weapons merchants that helped both sides blow each other up, trying to make a buck while hoping to be left alone. Rey is probably the most sensible character, since she's looking for knowledge and tradition. The tradition vs kill-the-past motif has me rooting for please pick one and explore its repercussions.

"The Rey character lacks emotions and charisma. "

Really? I saw the first of the new movies among a group that included: an elderly parent who offered everyone earplugs as we entered the theater, to someone whose last experience with Star Wars was in 1983 and who couldn't remember if Yoda was dead (and was he a muppet, or a very old guy?) - to someone who played with the original toys as they came out with the movies, and knows the universe cold without being a fanboy, to a millennial who devoured dozens of Star Wars novels as a child. While the latter's interest in the movie was slight, having long ago voyaged in the SW book universe into actual new directions - everyone, even he, agreed that the young woman who played Rey had a striking ability to carry a movie.

Re Mark Hamill: actor or no, his absence from the screen all these years worked in his favor. For one thing, if he had remained in Hollywood, he would by now have gotten a new weird face. Instead, he looked a convincing, normal old guy.

Ok Hamill looks like an old guy. Great acting I guess

The Rey character is boring. Who does she bond with? Her acting is flat. Mostly boring. Just start blowing up things, go into game mode again so that we have interesting visuals in between a weak story

Yay voice acting, I guess

I agree with a few things you said. It's not an awful movie, but definitely not great. Character development suffers because they are stuffing too many people into main character position. That whole Canto Bight mission was there to give John Boyega something to do, since his actual relevance to the story as written was thin at this point, and to give the Rose character something to do.

I also think that between Abrams, Kennedy and Johnson, they have done a poor job at getting creative with the politics of the galaxy. Mirroring the Empire with the First Order was just lazy and I think the whole story suffers for it. But then, the whole story hasn't even been written or plotted in any cohesive manner and it shows.

I think Rey was poorly written and is definitely a Mary Sue. I like Kylo Ren and Adam Driver was the best thing about this movie, for me. But Kylo Ren too needs more development. I didn't buy their "connection". To me, that felt forced. He may have been intrigued by her, but she was being mind-raped by him when they met and barely spoke. There is no reason for her to as deeply into him as it came on to be.

What they did was make Luke into a caricature of Mace Windu. There is no reason why Luke would have a "kill before he gets us" mentality. He wasn't deeply indoctrinated into the Jedi religion and methods like Window, Kenobi or Yoda were. He was one in a million and getting the most basic of training at the time. Yes, he got more training but it's not the same as being raised in the Jedi tradition. Of all the characters, his makes the least sense. I can buy a "lost faith" theme but I don't think his religion was that deep to begin with and there was no reason to think that Luke went there.

"I think Rey was poorly written and is definitely a Mary Sue. "


I think singling out Rey is unfair and somewhat reactionary. Given the constraints of The Force Awakens, she was done ok. Now Vice Admiral Gender Studies, complete with a high society gown and purple hair... refusing to address the crew's rapidly dropping numbers and morale, pulling rank rather than explaining herself (obvious power trip), implementing a retarded plan (retreat to a nearby planet to radio some possible friends, because the rebel flagship doesn't have a radio apparently) - if Star Wars wanted to be a feminist film, they should have made this character a man and also a traitor, and everything would make so much more sense.

I'm taking Vice Admiral Gender Studies personally, because she wasted 30 minutes of my life. If she was a traitor, she could have at least been a considerate one and cut out the casino subplot.

It's sort of amazing that the franchise has lasted this long considering that, according to it's own fans, only the first two films are any good. (A New Hope and Empire Strikes Back).

Yeah the Comic Book Guys ("worst...episode...ever!") who obsess over it actually like to sound smart trashing it. But they go to every one of them.

From the accountant's point of view, someone who sees the movie 3 times instead of 4 is identical to someone who never saw the movie at all.

Fandoms can be (usually are) toxic, but they're also there to help define the nature of the creation. If I'm watching Godfather 6, and there's a song-and-dance number about how dogs chase cats, ain't that silly... something very Not Godfather is going on. Even if it's a very catchy tune.

There've been a couple of different and all valid takes on what it means to be Star Wars. A gritty sci-fi where essentially cavemen have discovered and maintained operational high-tech factories without understanding how they work. A heroic journey space opera. Someone saying "I have a bad feeling about this". At this point, it seems that branding is the only valid one.

There's fans and there's customers.

Return of the Jedi is good and Rogue One made a New Hope better in my opinion. Rogue on reset my expectations only to be crushed again...

Rogue One was excellent. Nearly as good as the original 3 movies. Also, I was glad to see a decent female lead in the movie. I think Rey is a poorly written character in the first movie of the new series; the only one I've watched. And was dismayed that a lot of the criticism of Rey was put down as sexism.

Rey is a much better character in TLJ. She's still a Mary Sue, but one capable of emotions. I like that she's trying to learn from and preserve tradition.

Yeah the acting improved a good deal from TFA to TLJ, especially Ridley and Driver. And Hamill was much better than he was in the original trilogy, he's aged into being solid when he used to be pretty bad.

I thought the general consensus was that the Return of the Jedi was very good also. There's the common complaint that replacing the Wookie's with the Ewoks was a little ridiculous and commercially crass, but it didn't much mar an otherwise well constructed movie.

It's pretty clear that the general consensus (fans and otherwise) is that the second set of 3 movies were of lower quality; story, acting, directing, etc.

Crass commercialism there, and also the low-tech traps being so effective was also grating. The more a movie does right, the more it can get away with and still look good in balance. Much liek tpyos, smlal mitsakes aer ok as lnog as you can see teh pinot of ti all. Teh mroe fulff and filelr yuo add, teh hadrer it bregomrxnes.

And Return of the Jedi had a very strong and convincing redemption arc, fit in well with the rest of the movies - RotJ was not perfect but it did some things amazingly well.

Yeah, I thought RotJ was good, although having known plenty of Star Wars fans, many of them seem to hate Ewoks to a fanatical extent.
Also, most of them seem to think George Lucas is a shit director. Another irony.

A lot of people dislike Return of the Jedi, but it's very MST3K worthy!


Only the first 2-4 seasons of Game of Thrones are good.

The last few have been downright awful and a complete mess.

Yet ratings are high and spinoffs on the way.

The lesson is to start strong. It doesn't matter how you finish.

I'm pretty sure all the wrong lessons are going to be learned from this movie. Star Wars is a cash cow that could have given for decades yet, and I'm pretty sure it'll start getting depleted in, oh, 2 years. After all, this movie turned a big profit (ignoring mixed/bad reviews, significant ticket and interest dropoff), why change?

Can I say an heresy here? Star Wars IV, V and VI are excellent, sure. Star Wars I is quite good too, despite Jar-Jar. Star Wars II and III are not that bad either. Star Wars VII and VIII are absolute pieces of sh..., and so is "Rogue One".

I'm not sure that's really heresy.

"Star Wars IV, V and VI are excellent, sure" I agree.

"Star Wars I is quite good too, despite Jar-Jar. " I agree

"Star Wars II and III are not that bad either. " I agree. They certainly suffer in comparison to the first 4, but taken on their own, they're decent movies.

" Star Wars VII and VIII are absolute pieces of sh…," I think that's a little harsh. I haven't seen VIII, but I'd classify VII as mediocre. If it weren't related to the Star Wars franchise at all, I wouldn't think it horrible. Just not very good.

"and so is “Rogue One”." This is the only comment, I strongly disagree with.

I consider the Phantom Menace to be the single worst film ever made. Nothing comes close because it lacks even unintentional humor.

It's kind of strange that the black and the Asian characters are so ordinary looking and the White ones are very good looking (Daisy Ridley and Oscar Isaac). Passive-aggressive racism? I'm kidding, but not entirely.

It's a gross generalization, but Chinese are kind of shallow when it comes to film. They only want to see very beautiful actors/actresses and, honestly, despite the Will Smith comment, they only want to see white people. Even Chinese actresses generally have to have white skin. My house has Chinese tv shows on at all times of the day and I ONLY see beautiful and very white Chinese people. There are a few movie star exceptions, like say Gong Li, but the vast majority are very light-skinned.

Second, Star Wars is incredibly popular for nostalgic/historical reasons. If "Last Jedi" was not a Star Wars movie, it would not be that successful.

If TLJ was a movie to stand on its own, it would be better but not much. Not enough character development, too much going on.

Yeah, I guess we agree on almost everything, it is mostly my excessive way of stating things that obscures it.
I also place "Rogue One" actually higher that VII and VIII.

But I see the same fundamental shortcoming in it than in VII and VIII: I don't see any bond developing between the characters. In Star Wars IV, the relation between Obi-Wan, Luke, and Han develops in a very interesting way during the first half of the movie, and then it is the relation between, Luke, Han and Leila. In the I, I like the relation between Obi-Wan and Qui-Gong, perturbed by the arrival of Anakin of whom Obi-Wan is clearly a little Jealous.
In the new episodes, characters are static representative of groups, and they or their relation does not really evolve during the movies.

If anyone cares, Chen Tao is a young male complaining John Boyega is not as handsome as Will Smith. IStop for a moment ranting against SJW and reread Mr. Chen words.He's projecting some personal desire into the whole Chinese movie-watching population. What fraction of heterosexual males care about how handsome the male protagonist is?

.{ ...Chen. “We fans often joke that if Finn were played by Will Smith, Chinese people might be more inclined to watch it — because he’s very handsome.” }

Kinda of funny perhaps, but if Will Smith were handsome, then Harrison Ford would be ugly. ROFL. This "Chen" thinks that he can represent the views of the Chinese population, or is SJW cult starting to brainwash Chinese media as it has been doing to the West?

What really insults the Chinese viewers' IQ is that most Hollywood movies nowadays have Black actors acting as the decisive chief scientists, fast-thinking computer wizards, the most educated & smartest lawyers/doctors, and the hottest, the most romantic, prudent & responsible ones as well.

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