China beats Hollywood with bizarre Tupac biopic

A Tupac-themed biopic goes for the big screen

A Tupac-themed biopic goes for the big screen

The success of the hip-hop biopic Straight Outta Compton at the United States box office this year reignited hopes that a film based on the life of the late Tupac Shakur could finally get the green light. 

Now it has emerged that Hollywood has been beaten to the punch by a little-known Chinese filmmaker named Steven Sheng, with the distinctly unauthorised Tupac-themed movie Until the End of Time. 

A trailer for the film, which features Tsalta Baptiste as Tupac, has hit the web. According to Maxim, the bizarre-looking movie is set for a first-run release at Chinese film festivals early next year. The plot centres on a young hip-hop-influenced college student in China who is asked by his professor to research American civil rights and activism. 

“In choosing renaissance man Tupac Shakur, he finds himself learning more than expected,” reads the film’s blurb. “After meeting a former girlfriend of Mr Shakur in China, things take a turn from just another class project to a life- changing event.” 

The trailer intersperses scenes in which actor Dean Xue, as the student, discusses his project with Tupac’s rather young-looking “ex-girlfriend” in China, with mock flashback scenes featuring Baptiste as the controversial rapper.  

Complex magazine reports the film has been banned from social media by Chinese authorities, but Baptiste himself has been enthusiastically promoting the movie on Facebook. 

Boyz n the Hood director John Singleton was at one point lined up to direct a Tupac biopic but walked away in April, claiming the film’s producers had shown a lack of respect for the rapper, who was murdered in 1996. Singleton was replaced by Carl Franklin, the director of Devil in a Blue Dress and Out of Time, but little has been heard of the film in the intervening months. 

Actor Marcc Rose, who played Shakur in Straight Outta Compton — F Gary Gray’s biopic of the pioneering LA hip-hop group NWA — said in August that he and Singleton were in talks to bring their own Tupac biopic to life. Straight Outta Compton has reignited interest in rap movies after earning more than $200-million on a budget of just $28-million. – © Guardian News & Media 2015

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