The screen portrayal of a cancer sufferer whose illegal import of foreign medicines into China spurred national policy changes has become a box-office smash as audiences flock to a rare Chinese film on a hot-button issue. “Dying to Survive” is based on Lu Yong, who was arrested in 2013 after illegally importing a generic cancer drug in a case that sparked public debate about high medical costs. It is being compared to “Dallas Buyers Club”, the critically acclaimed 2013 U.S. film about smuggled HIV treatments, and praised as a breath of fresh air in China’s heavily censored cinema landscape. The public debate eventually saw Lu’s case dismissed and his experience is credited with prompting government steps to make cancer medicines more accessible and affordable. Starring popular comic actor and director Xu Zheng as a character modelled after Lu, the movie uses touches of black comedy to leaven the heavy subject matter and is on course to become one of China’s highest-grossing films. Released July 5, it surpassed even the first-week box office take of “Wolf Warrior 2”, a commando adventure that last year capitalised on rising patriotism to become China’s highest-grossing movie ever and the first non-Hollywood title in the… Read full this story
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