Chinese movie-goers have been rushing from screen to screen during the New Year's Day holiday, as several domestic movies were released near the beginning of 2018.
From Youth, which was released half a month ago and topped the box office with one billion yuan ($150 million), to Miracles of the Namiya General Store which came out two days ago, domestic movies have been taking turns at the top of the trends on Chinese social media.
Among the new releases, Legend of the Demon Cat directed by Chen Kaige, one of China's fifth-generation directors, became the one with the most polarized comments online. While many hailed it as the best Chinese film of the year, there are also some calling it another one of Chen's recent "bad productions".
Legend of the Demon Cat is an adaptation of Japanese writer Yoneyama Mineo's novel Samana Kukai. Considering the limit of a cinematic run time , the movie sanded the edges and saved only the core scenario of Chinese poet Bai Juyi and Japanese monk Kukai's investigation on the truth behind the death of Yang Yuhuan, the most beloved concubine of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
Despite the mysteries and suspense enveloping the whole movie, the grand vision of the Tang Dynasty in its heyday is a highlight of the movie and its recreation has impressed both audiences and film critics alike.
Polarized comments: Top-level film or another failed attempt?
However, after its opening, the polarized opinions have become even more popular than the film itself.
Most of the insiders gave a thumb up to the film. Han Han, an influential Chinese writer, film critic and new director, said it is a "top-level" domestic film, while director Lu Chuan said it is "a real visual feast, worth watching for a second and third time in the cinema".
"It would be unjust to smear it while deliberately ignoring the obvious effort of the crew and the outstanding performances of the actors," said Lu.
"It is a confrontation between the adolescent and the adult," said Jiang Fangzhou, one of China's young writers. Xia He, another post-1980s writer, called him "a master who has always devoted himself to exploring reincarnation and destiny".
The film was scored 6.9 on douban.com, a Rotten Tomatoes-like aggregation platform for movies, music and books. Most of those who gave the film the highest five-star rating said it is a highly-symbolic production that probes into truth and lies, love and hate, hypocrisy and sincerity, as well as the darkness and kindness in power and humanity.