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Volume 1, Issue 3
  • ISSN: 2051-7084
  • E-ISSN: 2051-7092



Chinese cinema at the turn of the twenty-first century is replete with metaphors of travel – migration, roaming, exile, diaspora, and more recently, adventure and tourism. This article explores the allegorical uses of mobility and journey in recent New Year’s comedies, as exemplified by Xu Zheng’s 2012 blockbuster release Ren zai jiongtu zhi taijiong/Lost in Thailand, a film that is widely considered to have shaken up China’s domestic film industry. The notion of Thailand in the film as simultaneously a commercial and spiritual destination is crucial to the matter at hand. I argue that the spatial consumption typical of travel films acquires an alternative form here, one that does not fortify but rather undermines the imagination of Chinese power in a foreign land. This form of spatiality is best understood within the generic framework of New Year’s comedy, as well as the larger context of consumer culture and mass entertainment. Inquiring into the mixed tropes of comedy and melodrama, I seek to illustrate how the newly emergent tourist discourse builds upon the organizational principles of holiday-themed films, and how this particular genre and style, at times, can enable apolitical encounters with the society’s collective consciousness, while critiquing the limits and conditions of China’s post-socialist reality from within.


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