“Transformers 4” Drives Debate about Chinese Cast and Product Placement

Transformers: Age of Extinction, also known as Transformers 4 <變形金剛4>, held an early screening in Beijing on June 23. Slated to open worldwide on June 27, Transformers 4 is expected to yield an optimistic box office run, though the film’s forced Chinese elements have sparked debate among viewers.

In order to cater to the Chinese market, Transformers 4 features appearances from well-known Chinese artistes like actress Li Bingbing (李冰冰) and singer/actor Han Geng (韓庚). To the surprise of many, Bingbing is not merely a useless bystander in the film. She appears in many scenes, some of which involve her riding a motorcycle or holding her own in a violent fight.

However, Han Geng has only one line in the entire film, and a similar fate befell boxing champion Zou Shiming (鄒市明), who gets to show off his boxing moves for only a few seconds. Other Chinese actors, such as The Bund <上海灘> actor Ray Lui (呂良偉) and thespian actor Wu Gang (巫剛), were merely iconic faces lost in the crowd.

The obvious product placement in Transformers 4 also led to much discussion among viewers, some of whom called the film a “long and tedious commercial.” Despite the extravagant price ticket for an in-movie commercial, Transformers 4 includes advertisements for all categories of Chinese brands, from egg white powder and mineral spring water to cars and jewels.

Prior to the release of Transformers 4, debate arose about an alleged scene advertising spicy duck neck, sold by a Chinese fast food chain. Though it was revealed that the duck neck had only a brief appearance in a refrigerator, reporters later uncovered the news that many commercial brands had requested special camera angles or dialogue that would highlight their product.

Transformers 4 was partly filmed in Chongqing, Hong Kong, and Beijing. Apart from shots of the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube, the movie also features a dragon-shaped hotel owned by Pangu Investment Company, which was recently involved in a dispute with Paramount Pictures due to an alleged breach in contract. Pangu asked that any scenes capturing its distinctively shaped building be cut from the film before its premiere.

Three days after its initial complaint, a Pangu representative explained that a lack of direct communication with Paramount Pictures had led to a misunderstanding. The representative denied that Pangu was stirring up hype for the film and added that, out of respect for director Michael Bay and love for the Transformers franchise, the company had already retracted its application to halt the airing of Transformers 4 in mainland China.

Source: Sina.com

This article is written by Joanna for JayneStars.com.

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  1. can they stop the Transformer sequels already? Each sequel is getting worse and worse…

      1. agree with Vel. People still pay to go see it so it would be stupid to stop making it.

    1. The movie sells. It doesn’t matter if the story (if there’s any) sucks. Look at Resident Evil…all of them top 200 million in revenue. They won’t stop making it as long as $$$ is coming in. You would have to be an idiot to stop making such a marketable series.

  2. I dont mind the chinese influence, just the fact that Mark Wahlberg is the star is what annoys me about it.

    1. Wahlberg was a thug. One of the many things he did include permanently blinding a Vietnamese guy.

    2. Seriously? I would take Mark over that over dramatic Shia Labeouf.

      1. It’s very well documented on video footage and in the court of law that Mark Wahlberg is a life-long racist, dating back to his youth. It’s ironic how he plays a main character situated in Asia.

      2. Hmm I didn’t know he’s a racist…. I have only seen him in the movie Ted, and I thought he was alright. Maybe he’s a changed man? I don’t know, I don’t follow him at all .

    3. And this Mark Wahlberg said in a China movie promotion event together with co-star Li Bingbing that he wish the next sequel will have him and Bingbing becoming lover and adding in a romance line.

      WTF false statement for a racist if true.

    4. Shia acting was good in transformer. I prefer Shia. But I will watch Mark’s performance in Transformers 4.

  3. to be honest, michael bay just abuse the mainland movie stars for commercial purpose not that he really want them in their movies,its a shame for han geng to have one line to speak in the whole movie,he downgrate himself in order to become a wannabe hollywood kelefeh,lol.

    1. I can’t stand Michael Bay. He tries way to hard for his movie to stand out. The only movie I like from him is Armageddon… ONLY because I thought Liv Tyler and Ben Affleck were the best looking couple I have ever seen on screen.

    2. i know! i was expecting hang geng to have a larger role or a few scenes at least ><

  4. who cares honestly about the asian celebrities I watch transformers because of autobots and decepticon. lol

    1. hahaha me too. I watch Transformers for the autobots and decepticons.

    2. yea, I dun even care about which Chinese actor in the movie or any Hollywood actor..we just wanna watch transformers with its robots & cars…

      if you guys wanna watch actors with given a lot of lines, go watch love story movies..so many dumbasses here not knowing what transformers is all about or what it should be..

  5. I have never seen any of Transformers and I don’t think I will. The only Michael Bay’s films I’ve watched was Pearl Harbor. I wouldn’t say it was amazing but so far, it’s ok for re-watching Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale.

  6. Casting China stars is to appeal for the China market

  7. I don’t really understand why so many Chinese actors/actresses are willing to play such minor roles in these Hollywood movies… It only helps boosts the popularity and sales of the movie in China, not the actor/actress in Hollywood. The average person in the United States at least won’t even know or remember who they are. The only roles they get are usually stereotypical anyway…representation of Asian Americans in Hollywood/American media is already low itself.

    1. I think the actors were trying to build the trust of the directors, who would in turn recommend them to other directors. Hollywood demands really good actors in order to be recognizable. I mean stilted English or sub-par delivery of lines isn’t going to get you larger roles. The competition in the US market is pretty hard. I mean classical trained English actors, actors that know multiple languages, and actors that can perfect accents are always going to outshine actors that are beginning to learn English and mediocre actors like Mark that lack range.
      If Li Bing Bing and Fan Bing Bing did not have their market backing them up I think it would be pretty darn hard for them to even appear as an extra.
      For now I seems that Asian actors have to start at the bottom and work their way up. Unfortunately there are no exceptional actors that great at acting and speak English without difficulty. Daniel Wu and Lee Wang Hom are the only ones that speak English unstrained but again their acting is pretty mediocre.

    2. I agree with you! Just to hv that Hollywood movie in their resume, they don’t mind being reduced to nothing more than “kelefehs”. So pathetic!

      1. Simon Yam and Terence Yin didn’t further their careers in Hollywood by taking bit parts as villains in Lara Croft.
        I greatly respect Takeshi Kaneshiro who wasn’t enticed by Hollywood because “only limited and stereotypical roles are offered to Asian actors.”

  8. Well, Li Bing Bing is the only female Chinese actress among her fellow Chinese actors. Perhaps she might’ve sacrificed a little to get that extra minutes… who knows, it’s the entertainment industry after all.

  9. Fan Bing Bing is smart. She said in China, she’s the boss… but if she advance into the Hollywood, she’s nobody there. Might as well stay in her homeland and get all the loves from the country that has the highest population anyways.

  10. It seems unfortunate that some East Asian actors & actresses can’t find the wisdom in being the head (big star) of a chicken (East Asian film industry) rather than the tail (a kelefe) of a cow (Hollywood) where they are shat upon constantly.
    You don’t see Aaron Kwok or even Andy Lau wasting their time trying to ‘break’ into the veritable great (white-only) wall of Hollywood. Not even John Woo could break it as a director.

    1. Ang Lee broke the “white-wall” and he got two Oscars for it though

      1. Two Oscars? I only know he won one for Brokeback Mountain. What is the other one? Life of Pi?

      2. I’m unsure if you’re trying to be ironic..
        Who was Ang Lee prior to Hollywood & was he popular in Asia? The answer to the last question is ‘Hardly’. He ‘broke through’ because he conformed to what was expected of him in Hollywood. He didn’t bring new anything or break any grounds. Hence, I think he’s more a token East Asian director in Hollywood.

        On the other hand, John Woo copped so much interference from the Hollywood bigwigs that his films were thoroughly mongrelized. Not much of his renowned style of directing & artistic flair were left in the few disastrous Hollywood bloats that he was foolish enough to attach his name to.

        Where East Asian male actors are concerned, they’re so emasculated in Hollywood films that even Westerners find it a phenomenon that the rest of Asia allows that. Take for example, Chow Yun Fatt who went West to act in the ‘historical’ biopic, Anna & the King back in the 90s. He was literally reduced to a leering, fawning idiot of a Thai King, casting starry-eyed looks at the white female English teacher played by Jodie Foster. Single-handedly, Hollywood had besmirched a respected & much loved historical monarch & pretty much sunk the career of a once highly popular HK actor. Needless to say, the film was a dramatic flop.

        Don’t even get me started on the way they f–ked up Stephen Chow’s epic comedies. Best part is, they were NOT even meant for Westerner/Hollywood audience. That didn’t stop the butchery (aka massive editing & snipping to ‘suit’ a Western audience until all witty nuances were gone) when a certain Hollywood media company attained ‘rights’ to show those films in the US.

      3. “I’m unsure if you’re trying to be ironic..
        Who was Ang Lee prior to Hollywood & was he popular in Asia? The answer to the last question is ‘Hardly’. He ‘broke through’ because he conformed to what was expected of him in Hollywood. He didn’t bring new anything or break any grounds. Hence, I think he’s more a token East Asian director in Hollywood.”

        I disagree. He made his name with the groundbreaking Wedding Banquet and made some very good Chinese movies. His take on Sense & Sensibility was good and he inputed his own interpretation in it. Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was the one that made him very well known in western world though I hated it. Brokeback Mountain was in a way showing a story Hollywood didn’t dare to do yet but he did. But his best, most sublime and beautiful effort was Life Of Pi and he won the oscar for best director a 2nd time, a surprise for everyone including himself but he absolutely deserved it. Life Of Pi for me was that year’s best movie and his interpretation was beautiful to look at and heart wrenching to watch. He broke that so called white-wall. I don’t see how he can do anything different in Hollywood. He managed to stay true to himself. He made movies he wanted to make the way he wanted to make it.

        John Woo also managed to sneak in his trademarks. Of course they had to play the hollywood game but they did it without compromising much of their style. You watch their films and you know it is John Woo or Ang Lee, etc.

        As for the actors, I agree.

      4. Funn, Ang Lee was not well-known at all in Asia prior to his Hollywood movies. Ang Lee is infamous for his ethnic self-exploitation pre-Hollywood flicks, which, consistently played up certain stereotypes of East Asians by Westerners for a Western audience even though those movies were made in & seemingly marketed for Asia.
        His pre-Hollywood flicks like ‘Eat Drink Man Woman’ and ‘The Wedding’ are good examples. Frankly, I am not surprised that he ‘ascended’ into Hollywood after that because his pre-Hollywood collaborator was a Jewish bigshot by the name of James Schamus, whom I suspect had a lot more input into most of Ang Lee’s scripts.

        Zhang Yimou is a better, more rounded & prolific director, yet, Hollywood still keeps him at arm’s length. That should prove to all that Hollywood is a big political machine, that is not as geopolitical-free, meritorious & race-blind as people in Asia thinks it is. That is why I think this trend of marginalizing East Asian film talents, hypersexualizing Asian actresses whilst emasculating Asian actors will continue even if Asian money, like in this Transformers movie, were poured into it during its making.

        The funny thing is, Transformers is an East Asian (Read: Japanese) creation.

      5. Good arguments delivered by you guys!

        Anyway, put aside all those Ang Lee’s ocsars topics, don’t you guys find that majority of hollywood movies are actually predictable and not creative at all? The same thing is repeatedly used over and over again, yet they could make big bucks out of it.

        The same thing applies to other countries’ movies even though they couldn’t make big money like hollywood does.

      6. “don’t you guys find that majority of hollywood movies are actually predictable and not creative at all?”

        Same goes for everywhere. Look at transformers 4. You know how it will be and yet so many watch. Why? Because people want to be entertained. Bollywood films, same thing and yet audiences enthralled by the song and dance routine because daily life is so dreary they need some fantasy to escape to. Which is why fantasy films make money but reality gritty shows lesser.

      7. Funn Lim,

        I know they want to be entertained, but don’t they feel bored watching the same thing over and over again??? I really don’t understand how could they be entertained after being fed by the same thing again and again.

      8. India for example, life is so miserable, they idolise their actors in good vs evil story where good always triumph with some song and dance in between.

  11. Just saw the movie.. Such a long movie. LBB has a sizeable role and did lots of things. I thought she was rather cool and had some great scenes. But the lead has always been the transformers. First time at my place saw my cinema with long queue thanks to this movie. Seriously no one cares about the actors. But the role in here is better than for the other one in x men.

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