The Black Comedy About Cancer That Could Change China

‘Dying to Survive’ reflects on the real struggles of Chinese patients in accessing affordable medication.

A still from ‘Dying to Survive.’

More than three years ago, leukemia patient Lu Yong was detained for smuggling cheaper drugs from India for himself and others. His case captured the Chinese public’s attention, and this week, a black comedy loosely based on his story comes to the big screen.

The film, “Dying to Survive,” is set in the early 2000s, when branded leukemia drugs available in China cost nearly 40,000 yuan ($6,000) while generic alternatives sold for just a few thousand yuan in India.

A still from ‘Dying to Survive.’

The protagonist, Cheng Yong, is a market vendor who peddles a “magical Indian ointment” promising to help men last longer in bed. By chance, a man asks for his help in procuring an Indian drug he needs to treat his leukemia. Cheng then teams up with the patient, a priest, a rebellious young man, and a single mother whose daughter is ill. Xu Zheng, a Shanghainese actor known for his comic chops, plays Cheng.

“Dying to Survive” has already found critical acclaim through preview screenings. On Wednesday, the production company announced that its official cinematic release would be brought forward from Friday to Thursday due to popular demand, as the film has already earned 100 million yuan in preview ticket sales. Continue to read the full article here.


-This is original content by Sixth Tone and has been republished with permission.