Yesterday I referred to Mei Lanfang ("Forever Enthralled") as China's first non-Party biopic, at the very least, its certainly the first ever multimillion dollar major biopic movie. While there have been a number of biographical tv shows, they typically focus on Party members (popular subjects are Chairman Mao, Zhou Enlai, Lei Feng, etc). Even now, two of the nightly tv shows on Chinese tv are a popular series about Bruce Lee (who many Chinese barely know anything about) and one about Liu Shaoqi.
Is it fair to talk about China's love of biographical shows about Party members? Aren't a large number of US biopics about politicians as well? If its not about politicians, its typically about actors/actresses or musicians who've lived the sex, drugs, rock n' roll lifestyle to the extreme and thus make interesting subjects. However, China didn't really have "celebrities" per se before 30 years ago and too many of the ones that do exist lead very boring lives (at least by comparison to US standards). Can you imagine a Yao Ming biopic? Or Gong Li?
So if Mei Lanfang was China's first major biopic, who will be the second? I think a decent biopic could be made about Wang Zhizhi, especially his battle to go to the NBA and then his years left in the cold as a "traitor". It would be made a lot better if he develops a drug habit or fades away into obscurity (or gets into another road rage incident). But my top candidate? Wang Fei!
It has everything! Cultural Revolution repression, a family's move from Beijing to Hong Kong, a difficult road to stardom, a sudden rise, an attempt to take over the mainland after HK success, her successful return to Beijing and falling in love with a Beijing boy, and finally her 2 horrible romantic betrayals before finally finding true love.
This would make a hell of a movie, I'm starting work on the script now, expect it out around 2020 or so...