Scenes with Chow cut in latest "Pirates" movie shown in China

Censors have cut scenes of Chow Yun-Fat as a bald, scarred pirate in the new "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie, saying they insult China's people, the main state news agency said Friday.

Xinhua said Chow's time on the screen in "Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End" had "been slashed in half by censors in China for vilifying and defacing the Chinese."

The version of the Hollywood blockbuster released in China earlier this week shows only about 10 minutes of the Hong Kong actor's scenes compared with 20 minutes in the version seen in the rest of the world, it said.

Xinhua quoted Zhang Pimin, deputy head of the film bureau under the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, as saying the decision to cut the scenes was made according to China's "relevant regulations on film censorship" and "China's actual conditions."

He refused to give specific reasons for the cuts, but Xinhua quoted a Chinese magazine, Popular Cinema, as saying the scenes were cut because of the negative images they showed.

"The captain starring Chow is bald, his face heavily scarred, he also wears a long beard and has long nails, images still in line with Hollywood's old tradition of demonizing the Chinese," the magazine said.

Chow makes his first appearance in the third of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, playing Captain Sao Feng, the pirate lord of the South China Sea.

The film took in a record US$1.3 million (euro980,000) on its opening day in China on Tuesday, the film's distributor, The Walt Disney Co., said.

Disney said some of the scenes were cut for cultural sensitivities.

"They weren't quite ecstatic with how the Chinese pirate was portrayed," Anthony Marcoly, distribution chief at Walt Disney Studios Motion Picture Distribution International, said.

The same censors had no qualms with Chow playing a tyrannical Chinese emperor who kills his son and drives his wife insane in Zhang Yimou's "The City of Golden Armor."