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4.0 out of 5 stars Iron Man 3 + Chinese Scenes Review, July 25, 2013
This review is from: Iron Man 3 (Two-Disc Blu-ray / DVD + Digital Copy) (Blu-ray)
Living in China has it's perks.

Cinema tickets are dirt cheap, for one. The movies stay in theatres longer. China is the fastest growing movie market, and many big Hollywood films (Looper, Iron Man 3, World War Z, Transformers 4) are catering to China to capitalize investment, leading to cool bonus features, premieres, and early releases.

There are downsides, though.

On a good year, 15 blockbusters will come out (The only 2013 Hollywood films to come to China so far are: Oz: The Great and Powerful, Jack the Giant Slayer, Oblivion, Iron Man 3, The Croods, Man of Steel, and Star Trek Into Darkness. UPDATE: After Earth, White House Down, Fast and Furious 6, and Pacific Rim have come too). They will ALL have Chinese subtitles. None of them (except for the aforementioned China-Hollywood partnerships) will be released on time, leaving viewers like me waiting as long as a month to see a film. I had to go to Hong Kong to see The Hobbit in theatres. And worst, to watch a film with a Chinese audience is destroy the sacred ritual of movie watching, and open up to a barrage of jabbering, phone calls, and Chinese ads before the movie.

But I'm not complaining. Well, I kind of am. But this system means that only the biggest films come into China, sparing us from the chaff and Adam Sandler comedies. Who wouldn't want that?


So that's a run down of foreign cinema in China, told from a first-hand basis. Lets get down to Iron Man 3.
The film, directed by Shane Black of Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang fame, got a lot of buzz for having roughly 5 minutes of extra, only-seen-in-China bonus features. It was rumoured to star veteran character actor WANG XUEQI and superstar FAN BINGBING (A very popular Chinese actress and model. Think the Chinese Angelina Jolie. I actually had the pleasure of bumping into her one night as she was swarmed around by jubilant fans while visiting the Canton Tower. True story!)


So what of the extra footage? Well, to put it simply - mildly, was TERRIBLE. The scenes had a knack for completely and utterly destroying all tension in the film. They were conveniently placed around action scenes or strategic emotional moments to just let the tension fall from the movie. Don't get me wrong; the bonus scenes did not ruin the film, which I greatly enjoyed, and found it fun, action-packed, emotional, and, at times, hilarious. Review and overview of the scenes below, but first, you'll have to forgive me - my Chinese is not fluent, but I get around. So don't expect fancy translations. Also, I have never seen the foreign theatrical version, so if you people NOT in China have seen a scene here, let me know in the comments.

SCENE 1: At the party in 1990, Tony Stark is introduced to a Dr. Wu (Wang Xueqi), by Dr. Yinsen (see Iron Man). He is told Wu is one of the foremost authorities on advanced surgery: something that will come up later on in the film. Wu talks to Tony in straight Chinese. Tony does not understand, but laughs and says, "I like your style" and invites him to "Party sometime". This is the best of the bonus scenes, and the only time Downey Jr. has contact with any of the Chinese actors.

SCENE 2: Dr. Wu is seen back in China, years later. TV screens in the background show Iron Man in Beijing, school-children clapping, and Wu shaking hands with the metal-suited billionaire before he blasts off into the sky. He then gets on the phone with someone who is suspected to be JARVIS (Tony's robot helper), where he talks for several minutes. I have no idea what he was saying, but it was dull, unnecessary, and basically served as filler while they stuck in product placement. I later learned he is looking to contact Stark, urgently.
Smack dab in the most obvious place on the screen is the word "ZOOMLION" - the name of a construction company.

SCENE 3: An unmemorable continuation of the above. Wu continues to talk on the phone. He is careful, reserved, as if talking to someone important.

SCENE 4: This scene takes place after the climax. Fan Bingbing is seen walking down a hospital corridor wearing an unconvincing nurse's outfit, but looking gorgeous, carrying some papers. She opens the door to Dr. Wu's office, and OHMIGOD, what in the name of the great green goblin? He's pouring himself a drink. Of a cheap, common soymilk drink, available in every hole-in-the-wall shop. This is the most shameless product placement I have _ever_ seen.

SCENE 5: The two characters - Wu, and his assistant, prepare for their operation on Tony Stark. They wash their hands, stare at themselves in mirrors, and put on surgical gloves. This is so melodramatic and overdone it looks like a cheap Chinese soap opera. I wanted to throw something at the damn screen. They talk about how dangerous it is, and what is at stake. They realize they are risking the life of the world's most powerful superhero.

SCENE 6: Tony Stark is seen under the knife as Dr. Wu operates on him. Acupuncture needles are seen in his arms, and Wu removes a tiny piece of shrapnel from his chest with forceps, then drops it as it is sucked up by an electromagnet, where several other pieces of shrapnel are seen.

SCENE 7: Wu is seen on another phone call, where he is glad to know that the mission worked out all right.

All the scenes comprise perhaps 4-5 minutes.

BONUS: The two actors get placement in the credits.
MEGA-DISAPPOINTMENT: For some unfathomable reason, there is NO post-credit scene with Mark Ruffalo. I stayed until the screen went black. Nothing, nada, 没有!

Conclusion: There is literally _nothing_ to miss in the Chinese scenes, which feature wooden acting, poor plot and dialogue, and shameless product placement. They do not contribute to the film in anyway, but they do not detract from it, as evinced by Iron Man 3's billion dollar payout.


What did I think of the film itself? I liked it very much! Shane Black directs with style, the action is fast-paced, explosive, and engaging, the screenplay is sharp and witty, and filled with twists, Robert Downey Jr. IS _the Bomb_, Ben Kingsley steals the scenes, the plot is action-packed, surprisingly emotional, and with a satisfying conclusion. The score by Brian Tyler is completely fantastic - reminding one of the James Bond theme. My favorite movie soundtrack of the year, tied with Hans Zimmer's operatic Man of Steel score.

I predicted this would be a money-making success from the very beginning. It's nothing serious, nothing weighty - just Marvel firing on all cylinders, and the result is an entertaining summer blockbuster. It _does_ have problems - that Mandarin Twist is now infamous and makes a sizeable portion of the audience feel cheated, and there are numerous plot holes (In one scene, one of the Extremis soldiers heats up his hand to metal-melting temperate...with his WATCH on!)

But I chose to play along with the twists, and was swept away with the ride.

And what a ride it is!

4.1 Stars! Highly Recommended!


I hope you enjoyed my review on the Chinese scenes in Iron Man 3. If you missed them, there is really no need to worry. But if you really DO want to see them, Marvel is releasing a One Shot (short film) called The Prologue that will feature these China only scenes.

Cheers from China!
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