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“Daisy” a Film by Andrew Lau Essay (Critical Writing)


In the emergence of co-production in East Asian cinema, Daisy is a sophisticated urban melodrama that seeks to adapt Chinese-Korean style films to a Western audience. There is an abundance of overdramatic elements creating a sense of a Shakespearean tragedy rather than a contemporary action-based melodrama. The plot and cinematography maintain a somber tone that genuinely reflects the dark world of the protagonists but is cleverly contrasted with the sentimental symbolism of a daisy flower. The film seemingly thrives on clichés but maintains a certain level of intrigue and unpredictability that can be seen in East Asian cinema.

Daisy is an effort to produce a classic Hong-Kong action flick within a European setting. In addition, it attempts to implement melodramatic themes which are the backbone of Korean cinema. It can be interpreted as an endeavor by the director and studio to branch out into a territory of mixing cultures while riding on the wave of popularity that East Asian films are having in Western markets. “These films display a collecting ‘Asian aesthetic,’ exotic, erotic, feminine, seductive, decorative, that makes Asian films attractive to American audiences” (Xu, 2008, p. 194).

While Hollywood films have always been popular around the world, a successful East Asian film can now gain traction with Western audiences. The setting of Amsterdam in Daisy was intentional to attract viewers. Westerners perceive it as an exotic film (although with obvious genre-type stereotypes) in a familiar location. Meanwhile, Asian audiences are intrigued by the imagery and way of life in the great European capital. It was an attempt to maximize the film’s market potential and attract a more global audience.

In the era of a capitalist global economy which the film industry has greatly benefited from, the intercultural exchange of ideas and collaboration will continue to expand. Wei mentions that in order for Asian co-productions to succeed within the international market, they must distance away from local perceptions. “The international co-production of films and television programs is not simply about cost-sharing or cultural affinity; rather, as Murdock argues, it is a process of symbolic intervention” (Wei, 2011, p.192). Daisy takes that almost literally by selecting a European setting and culture, with a majority of the characters living the European way of life. The film borrows heavily from the stereotype of a sentimental assassin popularized by several Western action blockbusters several years prior.

The film attempts to take some of the most symbolic elements from both East Asian and Western cinema and combine them in a perplexing plot. Its co-production element between the South Korean and Hong-Kong studios is also evident within the stylistic and genre-based principal photography choices implemented by the director. As East Asian co-productions gain popularity and marketing potential, more experience will be gained within the realm of international collaboration, resulting in the production of films that do not feel as culturally forced as Daisy. Although the film took a unique approach to intercultural co-production, there are certain aspects of cohesiveness that are left to be desired.

References

Wei, T. (2011). In the name of “Asia”: Practices and consequences of recent international film co-productions in East Asia. In V. Lee (Ed.), East Asian Cinemas (pp. 189-200). London, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan.

Xu, G. (2008). Remaking East Asia, outsourcing Hollywood. In L. Hunt & W. Leung (Eds.), East Asian cinemas: Exploring transnational connections on film (pp. 191-202). London, UK: Tauris.

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IvyPanda. 2020. ""Daisy" a Film by Andrew Lau." November 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/daisy-a-film-by-andrew-lau/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) '"Daisy" a Film by Andrew Lau'. 1 November.

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