China's biggest homemade blockbuster reaps 1.2 billion yuan and is closing in on the box-office champion Avatar. Raymond Zhou believes its off-screen trajectory is almost a rags-to-riches story worthy of Cinderella.
"Tai" in the movie title "Tai Jiong" not only refers to Thailand, where much of the story takes place, but also to "peace of mind", a dictionary-listed definition of the word, explains the actor-director-writer of Lost in Thailand Xu Zheng. What has attracted 32 million people to the movie theater could be the "jiong" part of the title - a new Chinese word that graphically captures an expression of awkwardness and foolishness, tinged with self-mockery. "It is the opposite of "tai", of which I found plenty while on a trip to Thailand," says Xu. "This is a country where the pace of life is slower than China, and people seem to be more secure and happier." Xu portrays a business executive who has to beat his rival to find the largest shareholder of their company and get his seal of authorization. That means billions of yuan in future income.
On his journey, he bumps into an idiot savant, who keeps wrecking his plans.
"A stranger you meet on the road who has a completely different perspective on life may change you forever," Xu believes. "While my character represents an urban lifestyle and the pursuit of wealth, Wang Baoqiang's character embodies the grassroots, optimism and values that are not materialistic at all."
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