Bulletproof Monk kidnapped by Pirates: Oeming comments on illegal DVDs

[Bulletproof Monk's Chow Yun-Fat]Comics in Hollywood have a lot to live up to in 2003. 2002 was a banner year for comics on the big screen with the massive financial success of the "Spider-Man" movie and the critical success of "Road To Perdition," among the many accomplishments. This year sees a large variety of comics jumping to the big screen, including the Marvel characters "Hulk" and "Daredevil." Another set to hit the big screen this Spring is "Bulletproof Monk," based on a three issue series published by Image Comics by writers Brett Lewis and RA Jones, with art by Michael Avon Oeming. Produced by John Woo and starring Chow Yun-Fat and Seann William Scott, anticipation is running high for the film not just based on reaction to the films trailer, but the film has landed on the streets of China in the hands in the form of bootleg DVDs a full three months before it's set to see release in the states.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, pirated DVDs of the MGM film have surfaced in Hong Kong and throughout Malaysia in what is considered one of the worst security breaches of a film's copyright. According to sources, the DVD contains a video taped recording of the film while screened in the United States. As you'd expect, the recording is of horrible quality, with theater patron heads blocking the screen and the sound of laughter and other theater noise permeating throughout.

"Well, that' pretty common, in fact, so common it has ruined the Hong Kong film market," series artist Michael Avon Oeming explained to CBR News on Tuesday. "Ever wonder why there are no good Martial Arts flicks coming from Hong Kong anymore?"

The practice of bootlegged films in China is rampant, affecting the Asian film industry in dramatic ways.

"Back in the late '80s and early '90s, we had legendary films like 'Fist of Legend,' 'Once Upon a Time in China' and 'Iron Monkey.' Not anymore, though," said Oeming. "The reason is the Triad gangs have taken over the film industry and no one wants to work with them. If you release a film in Hong Kong, they will pirate DVDs while the movie is out, so most of the money never makes it back to the company who made it. The film can be hugely popular, but make no money.

"On top of that, the Triads threaten producers, directors and actors, some have even been killed for not cooperating. The situation is so bad that reporters cant even write about it, and only Jackie Chan has had enough muscle to demonstrate.

"So, in other words, its no shock. I cant complain much, because I've bought pirated DVDs too, but I buy them because I cant get them here, and wouldn't buy one while its out in the theater and I know I can get the film."

"Bulletproof Monk" hits movie screens in the United States on April 16th.

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