HONG KONG - China is lifting a ban on the works of Jaycee Chan, Kai Ko and other celebrity drug offenders, after director Chen Kaige appealed to the authorities to keep Chan's scenes in the new action film Monk Comes Down The Mountain, said Apple Daily.
In a clean-up of show business, Chinese broadcast regulators issued orders in September last year for movie and television companies to stop showing the works of stars who had used drugs or visited prostitutes.
Films that were in production before their stars were arrested had to be reshot or cut, and investors incurred losses.
But Monk - directed by Chen and starring Aaron Kwok, Chang Chen, Chiling Lin, Van Ness Wu and Chan - has been cleared for a July 3 release in China, after Chen's repeated efforts to plead Chan's case, said Apple Daily. Effectively, the ban is being withdrawn less than a year after Chan's drug arrest in August last year.
Ko, who was arrested with Chan for marijuana use, will also not be edited out of the romance Tiny Times 4.0, which opens on July 9, said the report.
The daily quoted a source close to Chen as saying: "The director was negotiating with the Beijing film board all along, arguing that Chan is involved in a lot of the movie's major scenes, and that editing would be quite difficult, much less reshooting."
The source said Chen had prepared for the worst, which included having a special-effects company erase Chan from Monk digitally.
But Chen persuaded the authorities "to make an effort for Chinese cinema", in the face of strong competition from recent Hollywood movies, the source added. This year, Fast & Furious 7 became the most successful movie at the Chinese box office, with earnings of about US$391 million (S$532 million).
Actors including Roy Cheung and Huang Haibo were arrested in drug or prostitution raids last year. The ban will be lifted on their works, but not those of rapper Edison Chen, who was involved in a 2008 sex photo scandal, said the report.
The withdrawal of the ban is too late for at least one movie, though. The fantasy Monster Hunt, originally starring Ko, has been reshot with Jing Boran in Ko's role, said Apple Daily. Ko's scenes will not be reinstated in the movie, set to be released on July 16.
This article by The Straits Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.