How To Make a Serial Killer Movie and Get Away With It in China

Director Lu Chuan’s studio sidesteps censorship issues around story of ‘China’s Jack the Ripper’ by teaming up with the powerful Ministry of Public Security.


Yet another Chinese film studio says it plans to make a film about alleged Chinese serial killer Gao Chengyong, this time by the studio owned by famed director Lu Chuan in collaboration with the country’s Ministry of Public Security.

The Beijing Jindun Film and Television Company, a state-owned subsidiary of the Ministry of Public Security – a powerful Chinese government ministry focussed on Chinese domestic security – announced late last month it will co-produce the film together with director Lu Chuan’s studio.

The news follows an earlier announcement by a new studio formed between Financier Meridian Entertainment and the popular Tianya (天涯) online forum that they would be bringing the story of the country’s own “Jack the Ripper” to the cinema screen.

China Studio To Make Chinese ‘Jack the Ripper’ Movie

Gao Chengyong, 52, a married father of two, was detained in late August after a tip-off at a grocery store in the small city of Baiyin, located in China’s northwest Gansu province. According to local media, Gao admitted to killing 11 women and girls between 1988 and 2002.

While it’s normal for government organizations to provide censorship advice to the State Administration of Press, Publications, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) for films containing content related to their fields, it is less common that they collaborate with studios in making films.

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Films about serial killers like Gao Chengyong would normally face censorship problems over concerns about copycat crimes, excessive violence and any sexual overtones.

Stanley Rosen, a USC political science professor and expert on the Chinese entertainment industry, said he was surprised to hear of the Meridian Entertainment and Tianya co-production, given the history of heavy censorship of films that deal with similar themes.

“In any film about real-life criminals, the bottom line is that the perpetrators not only need to be caught and punished, but the cases should serve as a warning to deter others,” Rosen said.

No further details related to the script, director or cast for the film has been announced but Cao Baoping, whose style has been liked to that of Quentin Tarantino, has been bandied about online online to helm the film by fans of director.

However the director of numerous modern classic Chinese crime films including his latest ‘Cock and Bull’, told local media he wouldn’t be rushing into the project.

“The case needs to be further developed to become a good film,” Cao said. “Investors wanted to make quick money from the sensational case, but you have to put your own feelings, emotions and talent into it to develop the story properly. Rushed works will only be rubbish.”

Additional reporting by Wang Qingyuan.