Chinese moviegoers need not wait a decade for new 'Blade Runner'

Blade Runner 2049, starring Ryan Gosling and Ana de Armas, will hit the mainland theaters on Friday. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Many Chinese sci-fi fans watched the 1982 classic Blade Runner at least a decade after the film was released.

Directed by Hollywood filmmaker Ridley Scott, the film is widely seen as a game-changer in the sci-fi genre and has influenced many subsequent films. The film was not released on the Chinese mainland, and a 1992 DVD edition made by the director was an option for curious Chinese viewers.

Now, with the sequel Blade Runner 2049 set to hit mainland theaters on Friday, around three weeks after its release in the United States, local enthusiasts today don’t have to wait again.

Scott is the executive producer and Canadian director Denis Villeneuve directs the sequel.

The cast has Hollywood top actors such as Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling.

Set 30 years after the events shown in the first movie, the sequel follows a new officer of the Los Angeles Police Department who discovers a long-buried secret and embarks on a quest to unravel it.

Hundreds of fans alongside some sci-fi filmmakers and critics got a sneak preview of a 30-minute clip of the sequel in Beijing on Sunday.

Yan Peng, a Beijing-based critic, says most Chinese sci-fi fans list Blade Runner and Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) as two top films.

“Blade Runner was an eyeopener for many Chinese sci-fi fans. Before that we thought of a futuristic world as neat, advanced and fantastic, in which humans are served by robots and lead a decent life,” Yan says. “But the film shows a dark and disappointing future, in which protagonists lead a low life despite their homes being full of high-tech gadgets.”

Wang Hongwei, an associate professor at the Beijing Film Academy, says Blade Runner was a breakthrough in “visualizing a futuristic city”.

“The previous influential sci-fi movies were mostly about aliens or set in the remote unknown. Blade Runner was very fresh,” adds Wang.

For Zhang Peng, founder of the popular technology website Geekpark, the fictional world set in the Blade Runner movies has the possibility of being realized in future.

Other than critics and researchers, the Blade Runner films have also inspired Chinese sci-fi filmmakers.

Director Guo Fan, who is now working on The Wandering Earth, a Chinese sci-fi film adapted from one of China’s top sci-fi authors, Liu Cixin’s novel with the same title, says the Blade Runner films are easier to learn from than other Hollywood sci-fi flicks, such as the Star Wars franchise or Interstellar.

As special effects in China have yet far to reach the standard of Hollywood, it’s not practical for local filmmakers to shoot films themed on outer space, Guo says.

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