The Bloody Case That Started From A Steamed Bun (by Roland Soong)

The fact that the movie The Promise (无极) directed by Chen Kaige cost gadzillions to produce has made it the target for many Internet jokes and spoofs.  Here are a couple of photographs that were used to make you wonder if Chen was being paid to promote the Beijing 2008 mascots.

This particular post is about a video spoof on the movie.  The video clip runs for 20 minutes, and consists mostly of splicing and dubbing over scenes from The Promise.  As such, this requires knowledge about the movie itself before the subtler points in the spoof can be appreciated.

I downloaded my copy from this link, where a Real Media file is compressed in .rar format.  If this link does not work, you can always Google the title '一个馒头引发的血案' and find many other sites.  You can also watch it online at Massage MilkThere is even an official site at but the site does not contain any downloadable material so that they cannot be accused directly of intellectual property rights violation.

Here is the translation of a Chongqing newspaper report via the 从晴朗的一天出发 blog.

Recently, a short film titled "The Bloody Case That Started From A Steam Bun" is red hot on the Internet.  The short film was based upon the hit movie The Promise, and it is humorous and funny.  This reporter found the short film on one of the hottest entertainment forums in China.  The author is is stated as Hu Ge (胡戈).  After searching for the title, it was found that many forums and even bloggers are providing online viewing and downloads.  The short film runs for about 20 minutes.  It is basically editing sections from The Promise.

The short film begins with the words: "Everything that you see from here on is for my personal entertainment.  The contents are totally ficitonal and done randomly and haphazardly."  And then it used the CCTV program <<The Law On Line>> to develop this story.  The production of the visual images was acceptable, and the dubbed speeches were appropriate to the characters.  Thus, it would seem that the producer spent quite a bit of effort on this.  Here is a section of the script:

(Image: The television program host is speaking in front of a microphone)  (Voice over) On a certain day in a certain month in 2005 in a certain city, there was a mysterious murder.  A masked horse rider killed Mr. Wang, the general manager of Ring Entertainment City, in front of the public under broad daylight.  At the time, a reporter was there and recorded the whole scene.

(Image: The King (=Wang) is chasing after the Queen.  The masked rider kills the King).  (Voice over)  The situation was very complicated.  The woman in the video is Manager Wang's wife.  She is a famous model in Ring Entertainment City, and her ordinary job is to continuously take off and put off her clothes.  (Image: The Queen played by Cecilia Cheung is shown taking off her clothes, putting them on, taking them off, putting them on).

(Voice over)  At the time, the two were standing on the roof for unexplained reasons.  (Image: The King and the Queen are standing on the roof top).

(Comment)  According to informed sources, the two have not received their wages for more than two months.  Therefore, they climbed to the top of the roof and threatened to jump unless they receive their wages.  But later on, the two had an argument about an emotional matter.  (Image: The King is chasing the Queen with a sword on the roof top).


Afterwards, the reporter interviewed a respected lawyer Mr. Zhao in Chongqing.  According to Mr. Zhao, there are many netizens creating their own work and posting them on the Internet.  But in the case of "The Bloody Case That Started From A Steam Bun", which made change to the original work in The Promise, it is a violation.  "This action destroys the original integrity of the work, which is the basis of the right.  But, the Internet is somewhat special because it is often impossible to locate the original authors of some of the Internet works.  Furthermore, these works are mostly not for profit.  Therefore, most people whose rights were violated will not seek legal redress.  The principals may only take action if a website uses it as advertisement, or if the work contains personal attacks.

(China Daily)  Parody can help people ease work pressure.  By Huang Qing.  July 22, 2006.

From prime time TV programmes to mobile phone messages, from online chats to night parties, it is hard nowadays not to watch, read or hear what is called "egao."

The two characters "e" meaning evil and "gao" meaning "work" combine to describe a subculture that is characterized by humour, revelry, subversion, grass-root spontaneity, defiance of authority, mass participation and multi-media high-tech.

My efforts to find a succinct definition of egao in Chinese dictionaries failed. In fact Chinese dictionaries do not have such an entry since "egao" is new, too new to be recognized and listed.

However, in this era of online searches, when one cannot find an answer the traditional way, Internet is always able to offer something. I googled and found the following: Egao is a popular subculture that deconstructs serious themes to entertain people with comedy effects.

The expression is said to have come from the Japanese word "kuso," an Internet subculture that advocates enjoying any online game no matter how poor it is.

However, cases closely resembling egao existed long before the expression became known early this year.

Thanks to "The bloody case that started from a steamed bun," an Internet parody of the mega-budget film "The Promise" by well-known director Chen Kaige, its creator Hu Ge immediately became a luminary for his egao early this year.

It is no surprise that "The Promise" did not deliver satisfaction to viewers as promised by its promotional campaign. It is also no surprise that Hu Ge gained huge support when Chen Kaige wanted to sue him for piracy.

Hu Ge vs Chen Kaige has become a classic egao case seen by some as a fight between an ant and an elephant, an act of nobody making fun of somebody this time a film big shot with a high-profile screen work.

Hu has become so successful that, when his latest egao work "Suppressing bandits in Wulong Mountains" was made public, the website that first offered his show crashed under the weight of the hits.

In many people's eyes, Hu has become a symbol as well as a master of egao. His special website may someday attract investors.

Naturally, egao has been widely followed, as it entertains many people.

The latest example is the remarks of popular TV soccer presenter Huang Jianxiang.

During the Italy-Australia match of the just concluded World Cup, Huang's biased, emotional outbursts not only caused an uproar among Chinese viewers and netizens but also produced a number of short Internet audio and video egao pieces. His comments have also been made into funny mobile phone rings.

Huang was criticized by many for his "hysterical" performance in favour of Italy. But his comments-turned-egao now have a huge fan following.

His emotional outburst is said to have come from professional pressure. Likewise, many urban Chinese now suffer from work pressures. Jobs are more challenging than ever before and overtime is often the order of the day.

Under pressure, people need ways to let off steam and egao meets the needs. Its appearance has been showered with youthful blessing. It has rapidly become an important ingredient of popular culture.

Interesting quotes are out there to explain egao phenomenon:

"Egao is people deconstruct burning satire.

"Egao is an art criticism loved by people.

"Egao is people's ordinary, yet interesting, spiritual pursuit."

There are more quotes passing around.

Since entertainment has almost grown to be the mainstay of modern culture, egao has drawn wide attention and is now a form of collective indulging.

While many enjoy egao, others criticise it, saying that actions should be taken to stop it, or our culture will be wiped out.

The opposing alarm has not been well received, and the controversy continues.

Popular culture should not be vulgarized nor should it use any claptrap simply to please the public, according to Lin Shaohua, a university professor.

Egao does not translate into modern behaviour. If entertainment becomes absolutely ridiculous, cultural heritage will be thrown into a sorry plight, he said.

I sympathize with professor Lin and understand his worries. Personally, egao is not my cup of tea. However egao has its place in our society since there are not many ways that can help people let offs steam.

The argument that egao will eventually destroy our culture and heritage is a false alarm.

Chinese culture and heritage have withstood severe tests in history and this civilization remains one of the few existing old civilizations in the world.

However, to overestimate egao's role in modern society is also meaningless. Saying that egao can help fend off tragedies, that egao is a cure for our professional pressures, is naive, at best.

Our old culture is sure to accommodate egao. But one should not expect egao to become top entertainment form in this land and it is highly unlikely that the whole nation will be egao fans.

Related LinkTrying to understand 恶搞文化 spoofing culture in Virtual China.  Lyn Jeffery,

(Sinofile)  E Gao Ergo Parody.  By Jane Macartney.  August 16, 2006.

It seems a little too good to be true. From China to be able to amble around the Internet glimpsing videos of pretty much anything via YouTube. There's that glimpse of George W. Bush giving Angela Merkel a quick shoulder rub, or a view of the most famous head butt in modern sporting history and time to pore over clips of Asia's leading heartthrob, the bespectacled Korean star Bae Yung Joon.

Yes, it looks as if those days are numbered. And this young man, Hu Ge, and his passion for parody may have played a role.

Here's a link to his hilarious spoof that sends up "The Promise", the latest from renowned film director Chen Kaige and the most expensive film ever made in China. Here's Mr Chen doing what he does best.

ut spoofing, or e gao in Chinese, has become something of a phenomenon in China. It has provoked widespread debate and this thoughtful piece in the China Daily. Plus a look at spoofing in China.

Yesterday, it was time for me to write a piece on the plans of those mandarins who are custodians of the spiritual health of the Chinese people.

And here it is...

China has bad news for vloggers. Under new regulations proposed by China’s censors as part of Beijing’s race to keep control of Chinese cyberspace, anyone wanting to post short videos on the Internet will need approval.

Targets of the latest move by the powerful State Administration for Radio Film and Television to regulate Internet content are online spoofs of films, celebrities and Communist Party icons.

It was only a matter of time before the censors moved against online video with the aim of preventing Chinese from using the hugely popular YouTube site that enables anyone in the world to upload and share their own videos and is the 18th most popular site in the world.

The new regulations, which have yet to be formally approved, have been under study for six months by SARFT officials as they government tries to keep pace with the rapid innovations on the Internet and the freedoms available to share information.

In February, "Murder Over a Steamed Bun", a 20-minute film sending up CHina’s most expensive film, the costume drama "The Promise", and mocking the stonefaced news reading of state television presenters, brought instant fame to young Internet prankster Hu Ge. Chen Kaige, the director and the doyen of Chinese contemporary film makers, threatened legal action.

Would-be vloggers, or video loggers, will only be allowed to post their content on sites designated by the authorities and will first have to seek permission from the managers of those sites. They will be banned from posting content that humiliates, libels or infringes the legal rights of others, the regulations state.

Also forbidden is the posting of content from foreign television channels – thus closing off a loophole that would allow Chinese to bypass the censors to post news items or shows at odds with the views of the censors.

One Internet expert with close ties to SARFT, but who declined to be identified, said: “My colleagues and I think that this will be useless. How do you control this?”

Hu Ge, China’s most renowned video prankster, told The Times: “Individuals will still be able to make a ‘flash’. It will just be more difficult to share it with others. But there are so many Chinese ‘YouTubes’ at the moment that I guess the authorities will find it difficult to manage.” He said he would share his work via instant messaging.

The new law would bolster a regulation issued in 2004 requiring the censor's approval for the distribution of all audio-visual material on the Internet, mobile phones, television and other media.

Liu Jianhui, a censorship official at SARFT, said: “SARFT has established a quite advanced Internet audio-visual monitoring centre and plans to set up monitoring centres in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong. Connected with each province, a timely, effective monitoring system will be formed."

Despite existing regulations, a rash of unapproved video spoofs parodying popular culture and targeting iconic Chinese figures have emerged online in recent months, often created by hobbyists and some becoming hugely popular.

In July, the short film, "China Wins the World Cup!", parodied film star Jackie Chan, China’s underperforming national football side and TV announcer Huang Jianxiang's overzealous rant in praise of Italy's victory over Australia in a World Cup knock-out match.

China has several home-made sites similar to YouTube, including, and which are the main media for Chinese to post their video clips. It was unclear whether these sites would receive approval in the latest step in China’s Internet crackdown.

Just for fun, and to make this posting a little more alluring, here's a still from "The Promise."