Perhaps one of Australia’s most famous cinematic exports would have to be none other than “Mad Max”. The eponymous hero, most famously portrayed by Mel Gibson and more recently Tom Hardy, follows the adventures of a former police officer in a dystopian and later post-apocalyptic world, who travels the wastelands of Australia trying to survive while reluctantly righting wrongs as he stumbles into them. It’s hard to believe that it since grew into a four-movie franchise with a videogame and other tie-in merchandise, as well as critical acclaim to boot. The latest film, “Fury Road” wowed movie audiences last 2015, and while the next sequel is still some time off, those who are in the mood for more wasteland action might be interested in looking at a recently-released movie trailer from China.
I said China, right? That’s because, as the International Business Times tells it, there’s an action movie coming out, not on Chinese cinemas, but as an exclusive on the online streaming service Tencent Video. Produced by New Film Media from Beijing, the film’s title is “Mad Shelia”. As if it doesn’t make things any more obvious, the flick’s a glaring rip-off of the “Mad Max” franchise – and “Shelia” seems like a misspelling of “Sheila”, the famous Australian slang term for a good-looking girl.
And from the looks of the trailer, it’s a comely Chinese actress who is top-billing the whole thing. Online blurbs tell the gist of “Mad Shelia’s” plot: about a girl living in an unspecified post-apocalyptic environment who was abducted by a vicious biker gang, who later toughens up and rides out to exact her vengeance on them. Any “Mad Max” fan worth his salt would recognize the familiar beats there, and the main character’s predicament somewhat mirrors that of the main female lead in “Fury Road”, Imperator Furiosa as played by Charlize Theron.
The film’s promotional poster doesn’t even bother denying anything about what its deal is, with the layout of elements copying that of “Fury Road’s” own poster. As to why this is such a thing right now, it’s because the latest “Mad Max” film wasn’t shown in Chinese theaters last year, supposedly due to surpassing the allotted annual quota the country has for foreign movies. Considering that China has also invested heavily in Hollywood, and the Dalian Wanda Group currently owns the Legendary Entertainment studio (“Jurassic World”), this is somewhat to be expected.
Now that’s not to say that no questions are ever asked about Chinese clones of western films. Disney is taking to court another studio that produced a seeming rip-off of “Cars”, for instance. Anyway if you’ve got certain access, “Mad Shelia” premieres on Tencent Video this November 25.
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