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China TV extra dies daily as Japan soldier

AFP-JIJI

For one Chinese TV extra, playing with the enemy has proved the secret of his success — one that requires him to die as often as eight times a day.

Shi Zhongpeng, 26, works at the Hengdian film studio in Zhejiang Province where scores of productions are shot every year about the Japanese invasion of China that became part of World War II.

He appeared as a member of the Japanese forces more than 200 times last year, the Qianjiang Evening News reported, sometimes dying on set eight times a day.

The secret to being picked by the casting teams, he said, was to “appear as sleazy as possible,” so he adopts a ferocious look at auditions, while stooping slightly.

His biggest wish, he added, was to change sides and play a soldier of the Eighth Route Army, a communist-led force within the Republic of China’s military before and during the war.

A total of 150 movies or TV dramas were filmed at the Hengdian studio last year, 48 of them about the war with Japan, the report said. Over the year there were 300,000 roles for extras, 60 percent of them as Japanese soldiers.

China’s film industry is subject to strict censorship, leaving only a limited number of subjects directors can focus on.

“There’s a limit on costume stories and spy dramas are not allowed to be aired during prime time,” the report quoted Zhou Weicheng, general manager of Greentown Media, as saying. “What can we shoot other than the anti-Japanese war?”