Thursday, November 08, 2007

Are Asian Stories Different?

Hang on! There's something else as well!

I dropped by Nury Vittachi's blog and found that after deliberately not writing about the controversy for months
because it is important that the focus goes on the writers, not on the backstage shenanigans
he was lured out to comment once more on the choice of judges for the prize:
Not only was it racially and culturally insensitive, but it raised some massive issues ...
he said. And this seemed to be the massivest:
Asian story arcs differ significantly from Western ones.* Our narrative traditions are also totally different. And modern Asian story conventions are simply not the same as classic ones, nor Western ones, nor do they trace their roots to the Greek drama form which is the bedrock of Western tale-spinning. I failed miserably to get any of the organizers to understand these issues or take them seriously.
(*My emphasis.)

Now this question intrigues me because I must say that I hadn't given it much thought until The Stars Rise in the East panel discussion at the Ubud Writers' and Readers' Festival when Xu Xi (who is incidentally one of the shortlisted authors for the Man Asian) talked about how Asian ways of telling stories differ from western ways.

Let me quote Ann Lee's article on the festival which appeared in Off the Edge, because clearly Ann was taking better notes than me!:
Xu Xi, maintains that there are Asian ways of storytelling - a climax at the end of the story is 'very western, very Greek'. She suggested, wryly, that perhaps as in the tale of Buddha, a short story should just 'mosey along, this way and that, and then one day achieve enlightenment if it happens'.
Xu Xi slipped in a very interesting example from the work of psychologist Richard Nisbett showing how groups of Asians and westerners tended to read the same news article very differently. (I wish I had the exact quote ...).

So Nury's point, I suppose, is that because Asians think differently, this is going to be reflected in the way that Asian authors write and therefore the best people to judge the writing and understand the cultural nuances are people with the same way of perceiving the world i.e. other Asians.

The influence of different writing traditions would, I suppose, have to be factored in too.

Now all this leaves me once again with more questions than answers. Would be grateful if you could help me out, dear reader, because you are likely to have a broader perspective than I have.

The Man Asian prize remember is for a novel, that most western of literary forms.

First, do Asian stories and Asian novel (particularly for us here Malay novels, Chinese novels) have a different story arc from western novels?

Would this be true also of Asian movies vs their western counterparts?

Is good storytelling the same thing in all cultures?

Are Malaysian novelists writing in Malay or in Chinese or in English more influenced by the literary traditions of those languages, or by western writing ... or indeed by other factors?

(As British novelist Patrick Gale pointed out in another session at Ubud, the dominant form of story telling now is the computer game and probably this is even truer in Asia than in the west!)

And if one of the aims of the prize is win Asian writers greater exposure and acceptance internationally, doesn't their work also have to succeed by western standards?

I've a feeling that Nury has opened up a big can of worms with this talk about story arcs and I suspect it would take a lengthy academic thesis to even begin answering the question!

Still, the debate could be very interesting!


Greenbottle said...

you just can't escape politics anywhere, even in book awards.

am especially interested to know why Mr Nury was (as he put it in his blog entry) "...I was forbidden to play any role in it whatsoever"...

and lets assume that an Asian is included in the judging panel, will this discussion about story arc and stuff be brought up?

i can understand mr nury's dissapointment and it's totally insensitive of the organizer of this award not to chuck in an asian or two into the judging panel but taking the example of nobel prize say, nobody complains the legitimacy of the award just because the judging is done by a few swedes.

and speaking of politics and turning into another different arc, i hope everybody comes out and go to dataran merdeka to support BERSIH rally for clean election tomorrow November 10.

BERSIH website has been closed/hacked. BERSIH request for rally Permit has been turned down...Malaysia is no better than myanma or musharraf pakistan....i think it's time to kick BN into the dustbin of history in the next election ( but then again, will the election be BERSIH?)...sorry digression again.

Anonymous said...

Dear Bibliobibuli,

As always, you give the most insightful discussion of the issues under examination.

A supporter of the expatriate group which took over the prize has poo-pooed the concept of story arcs but I must agree with Xu Xi and others that there is a significant difference between Eastern and Western narrative forms. This is an issue which is discussed in every university creative writing school in the world.

Asian stories don't follow the standard Hollywood/ Disney model -- and why should they?

Think of your standard piece of Western fiction. You have the dramatic opening introducing the heroic protagonist, you have the rising action leading to the climax, and then you have the satisfying resolution.

This is often called the three-act structure. In a movie theatre, you can glance at your watch and actually time the three acts. Part one is usually 20 to 30 mins, part two is about 60 mins, and part three is around 10 mins. Most movies are thus 90 to 110 minutes.

Now think of classic Asian stories. They are nothing like the above. A few examples: Water Margin goes on and on, with each of its 114 outlaws having his own stand-alone story.

Think of the Ramayana or the Mahabharata, with its long list of interlocking tales.

Think of the Bhagavad-Gita, which consists entirely of a single framed conversation.

The conventions, the structure, the format, are quite different.

How best to describe them? To me, Asian narratives are like lucky charm bracelets. Individual items dangle independently and have their own beauty. But a thread links them all together to create a single, larger unified item of beauty.

I hope that makes sense!

I think the judges of the Man Asia Prize are all excellent. But I think they themselves would have preferred to have non-expatriates on their team.

Amir Muhammad said...

On a separate note, can someone review this book? It's too expensive for me to buy lah.

Anonymous said...

is it necessary for Amir and greenbottle to go off tangent on an interesting blog entry? i find it rather rude to do things like that.

anyway, i like what you brought up here Sharon. i used to wonder that when it came to scriptwriting for film. and like Nury commented here, a lot of the scriptwriting processes dominated by Hollywood is taught across the board to all media students. i haven't had a chance to attend an "Asian" one, but who's likely to tell me that they don't follow the 3 Act formula?

i admit i haven't read enough Asian writings to give much comment on this, but having grown up and exposed to an education system highly influenced by the western system, i think most Asian colonized countries would show these influences in any writing. i see it even with the Indian writers I read.

but it would be exciting to read more traditionally spun tales to sample these styles. i think maybe it's safe to say that most of them rely on teaching moral values to its society in lingering fable form?

on another issue, wouldn't it be difficult to have select Asian judges in the panel just because Asia is such a wide region of expansively rich culture? who is to say a Chinese judge will be able to understand Indonesian literature style as well? just wondering aloud.

Greenbottle said...

dear zona marie (nice name) i apologize to madam bibliobibuli if i'm percieved as being rude. i kind of imagine this beautiful blog as a kind of a classroom where all the nice people sit in front and do all the correct things and people like me siting at the back throwing peanuts at each other and where needed will pick up a fight...i don't think by bringing BERSIH up as being rude, as it is a damned pertinent issue at the moment in malaysia...yes, i know it may not be in the right place, but knowing sharon, she's given a fair breadth for people to discuss all sort of things here..which is very healthy.

coming back to the topic in had...regarding your comment..."on another issue, wouldn't it be difficult to have select Asian judges in the panel just because Asia is such a wide region of expansively rich culture?..."

what on earth are you insinuating?
do you mean since asians are so different so forget it..we get whites to judge because we the whites are all the same everywhere?...put it that way it sounds very stupid....

Anonymous said...

walauwei, Amir, RM140 is very very expensive indeed! yeah, Miss Bib, do u review biographies?


bibliobibuli said...

nury - thanks so much for dropping by and adding some excellent examples. i hadn't heard of this debate before you brought the issue up but am so interested in knowing more ...

i love a good argue so i'm going to argue some more! (hope you don't mind being argued with??)

first i don't think that all western narratives do by any means follow this structure. the booker shortlisted books would be a good place to start. just look at the winner, anne enright working through mists of memory and conjecture ... where are her three acts?? or look at nicola barker's "darkmans" where it isn't at all clear where the plot is going because bits of it are shooting out in all directions but you follow the author because you are so totally intrigued by the characters and the little clues of ghostly possession!

we're talking novel here, right? so my second question is does an eastern narrative form sit well on top of a western narrative form? one novelist who tried (i think, correct me if i'm wrong) it is Gao Xingjian in "Soul Mountain". have you read it? i found it unreadable, so did almost all the malaysian members of my book club when we decided to have a go at a nobel winner

another book (though not by an asian but an african this time) that bravely stepped outside the usual narrative framework was ben okri's "famished road" which won the booker. i finished the book despite really having a struggle with it. the narrative meandered in a way i found terribly frustrating and i thought the book too derivative of amos tutuola's (much better) "the palm wine drinkard".

come to think of it that icon of the western literary cannon james joyce's "ulysses" doesn't exactly follow a predictable disneyish plot either

there's more to argue but i think we need to do it with contemporary asian texts. it's hard to pin down shadows. suggest a title or two and we will get copies and discuss 'em!

zona - thanks to leaping to the defence of my blog. i like it best when people add to the argument, but some days no-on leaves a comment and i get lonely, so i'm thankful for the red herrings too!

like you, zona, i feels the gaps in my own reading of asian lit, especially malay novels. i really want to buy some in translation but i guess i have to buy old copies second hand

i wish all success to the marchers tomorrow, greenbottle.

and i can't read about samy vellu, amir. no way. i think you must review it. maybe you could ask the publisher for a review copy???

i wouldn't mind reviewing some biographies but have my hands really full of overdue stuff, viz. the novels keep me busy enough.

Amir Muhammad said...

Zona Marie,

Who died and left you Class Monitor?

bibliobibuli said...

aiyoh amir! all of you be nice. please. i loves you all.

bibliobibuli said...

coming back to the topic in had...regarding your comment..."on another issue, wouldn't it be difficult to have select Asian judges in the panel just because Asia is such a wide region of expansively rich culture?..."

what on earth are you insinuating?
do you mean since asians are so different so forget it..we get whites to judge because we the whites are all the same everywhere?...put it that way it sounds very stupid....

sorry greenbottle i missed this bit. (maybe i was just so distracted by your antics at the back of the class)

'course i wasn't insinuating that ... just making the point that it is pretty much impossible to have perfect representation whatever you did.

amir is not answering anything and i wish he would haha

savante said...

Would be interesting to see such a thesis being presented! I mean we already know that those from mainstream schools think differently than those from vernacular schools - so imagine how vast the difference when we start to write!

Lydia Teh said...

I haven't been commenting much here and Sharon's remark about being lonely makes me feel guilty. So I'll chip in my two cents.

As a lay reader, to me the distinction between Asian and Western writing (in English) are :

1. Asian writing talks about Asian stuff, so a white man can write Asian. Eg Somerset Maugham and Anthony Burgess.

2. Asian writing may differ from Western writing in terms of language. For eg in Amy Tan's novels, some of the protagonists' English aren't standard. In The Kitchen God's Wife, the main narrator speaks as though she's translating her thoughts from Chinese to English.

Amir Muhammad said...

I reject essentialism and scoff (scoff, you hear?) at tokenism. And I think a writer's nationality is invariably one of the least interesting things about him.

The only reason there is such a thing as 'Asian writing' is to keep the over-educated and under-employed middle classes busy in university departments, which are now compartmentalised (with attendant turf wars) to a degree that has nothing to do with the quality of writing but everything to do with bourgeois careerism.

bibliobibuli said...

amir - yowza! when you do comment you are as astute and pithy as ever. i almost feel like reading samy vellu's book in return!

lydia - yes i do get lonely these days ... not so many comments and i dunno why ... today is more happening i suppose because it's a public holiday

i like your definitions! it kind of pokes a hole in any potential pretentiousness ...

Anonymous said...

Bibliobibuli, I enjoyed your post about story arcs above, and it's
pleasure to talk books with someone as well-read as you are.

Your examples of Booker Prize winners which don't obviously follow a classic Western narratice form are fine.

But I was making a generalist point. You are combating it using
specifics. It's easy to fight a general point using specific examples -- but they do not serve to defeat the argument.

I too could think of many books which do not adhere strictly to the classic Western narrative arc form, and I could do so without reaching my arm too far or straining a ganglion. And Booker Prize winners, which are supposedly cutting edge novels, are likely to be more avant garde than the average.

Yet even they often show classic Western story structure modes: Act 1 -- a boy in a Indian town gets on a boat; Act 11 -- he is stranded on a boat with a tiger, which eats everything on the boat except him; Act 111 -- he survives and reaches land.

Yes, there are exceptions, but that doesn't mean that the Western storyform doesn't exist.

Quite the contrary. Indeed, with the proliferation of creative writing schools in the west, the number of people trained in using such arcs is growing by the thousands every day.

The Asian narrative story arc is much less pin-down-able. It mutates and evolves and changes shape. It's different from country to country and from century to century and language to language. It sometimes turns itself inside out and upside down.

All I am suggesting is that it would be good to have someone living in Asia judging narratives from Asia.

Why does the Committee find this request so outrageous?

Perhaps it is a commercial thing. If the winners chosen have Western
narrative forms, they can be turned into Hollywood movies much more easily!

The world being as commercial as it is, perhaps I am the only person who thinks that would be a bad thing.

bibliobibuli said...

agree wholeheartedly with you about the need to have someone from asia judging the contest. no problem there.

agree too about the formulaic approach of many creative writing courses which can be felt in the work. (although look at how many of those unformulaic bookerish writers came through creative writing courses too! ... didn't enright go to UEA?)

am going to be thinking about the story arc thing vis-a-vis asian writing for some time to come, i know. w need and want to read more and ponder this more deeply.

and actually i'd rather argue specifics because i think specifics prove the point in the end. general arguements always end up being just out of reach.

but all this makes me want to read those books on the shortlist and longlist for the prize even more.

Anonymous said...

the 3-act story arc, also called Freytag's triangle, is not the only western story arc out there. The Picaresque form is also popular, a la Don Quixote. Maybe that is similar to what you call the Asian story arc.

For me, I think it is better to not try to pigeonhole, or even categorize such 'arcs'. In this day and age, as a writing teacher myself, I try to tell my students that innovation in form is the objective (in addition to honing the other elements of fiction). I recently saw a movie that went backwards chronoligically, and it was very effective (I think it was called Time Kills Everything). But I think it is destructive to start making labels, especially racial ones, etc... it is definitely not conducive to creativity, I think.

bibliobibuli said...

and i would agree wholeheartedly and thanks a lot for your input ...

martin amis incidentally had time moving backwards in "time's arrow"!

another interesting variant that occured to me is the essentially plotless novel e.g don de lillo's "underworld" in which an object being passed on (a baseball) provides the direction for the narrative

my problem with the whole idea of asian story arcs is that i do not think that traditional asian narrative (whatever that is!) influences or would the fiction writers of malaysia (the place i know best) half as mush as the influence of fiction written in the west. (more needs to be thought about and argued here - this statement is way too simplistic, i know)

the most popular form of fiction here is the malay romance novel modelled on mills and boon!!

dreameridiot said...

Interesting... interesting...

I do agree that there is a case for a tradition of 'Asian' narrative forms (though Asian is sometimes too wide and encompassing for me, firstly I think the Indians even with their diversity have a literary tradition of their own, distinct from say, Chinese or Japanese - that is from my far limited reading from everyone on this forum). I remember one of the examples a professor of both Indian and English literature gave of how traditional English novels (ala Austen) ended with a marriage as resolution, while for Indian writings (of an even earlier period before colonialism) marriage only marked the beginning of the story. This highlights the differences in social and cultural sensibility, which also affects the narrative form. Nury pointed to an Asian tradition of somewhat multiple, digressive stories that can be threaded together as one, while a 'Western' form, the digressive bits are usually more directed and unified either with a central character or purpose. Other examples of differences can be seen in non-literary narrative forms, like how some Asian TV dramas are structured more around the family….but there is increasingly overlap and inter-borrowings that a clear distinction cannot be used to call one Asian and Western – this is a result of globalization and the bridging of borders and distances through various media communications that make most cultures ‘global’.

In this increasingly ‘globalised’ world, cultures meet and mingle with one another to such an extent, or are at least made visible to others, that what emerges cannot be so readily and clearly demarcated as being essentially this or that. Another related point or factor is that whether Asians like to acknowledge it or not, colonialism has affected most or us through , and to a degree, resulted in a kind of cultural ‘dominance’ (through capitalism….can’t think of a better word) of the West, till they influence Asian ways as well. Moreover, Rushdie, may be said, to have borrowed some aspects of Indian storytelling form, when he wrote Midnight’s Children, but he also draws upon Western tradition too, and what results is a kind of hybrid… which has also subsequently influenced many other Western writers in turn. Yes, there is some degree of this cross-fertilisation… but one also encounter the problem of Asians sometimes writing for a Western market, with exoticised or orientalised pictures of Asia/ You can see with some of the spade of Asian blockbuster kungfu movies, whose opulence and grandeur, somewhat panders more to a Western viewership… or some would argue, Asian Americans like Amy Tan, who presents a certain view of Chinese culture. So, there’s history, market, globalization, politics involved… There’s still so much to talk, even while just scratching the surface…. and speaking of Sharon’s contention on Nury’s example of Western narrative tradition being based on the classic Greek three ‘act’ form, there’s also the whole question of literary evolution, as writers seek to reinvent ways of writing in tandem with the changing realities of their times, which sometimes bring them to shift slightly away from their ;literary forebears… and then, literary modernism in the early 20th century that sought to make a radical break, with the changing environment (cities) and perception of time and technology (clocks etc).

Oops, I think I lost myself there…Another question, is there possibly some vague form of some kind of qualities, which may make novels across cultures ‘universally’ and generally regarded as good? Would that then imply that they share some form of similarity? The debate continues…as through our human history

Beter go... I'm late in meeting my supervisor

Hsian said...

There are differences in how "Westerners" and "Asians" think (as highlighted in Nisbett's book The Geography of Thought, an interesting read - available in Kino!) but I think these days your genetic make-up influences your thought process a lot less than where you grew up and where you lived / live really. I have met many so called "Westerners" who are a lot more Asian or in tune with Asian sensibilities then me or my "Asian" friends - if that makes sense at all. I am not sure what Asian Writing is - yes there is writing by people who are Asian but it does not necessarily mean its "Asian" (case in point Kazuo Ishiguro). Asian people may use Asian references and Asian settings but I personally think good writing is good writing, no matter who it is written by. I also like books that are not too cliche in that you can immediately say oh that's an "Asian" book etc. - a good example is Sightseeing by Thai writer Rattawut Lapcharoensap tries to bring readers images of Thailand that go beyond the exotic and cliche images of Thailand frequently used by many writers who write about the country. He draws on what is familiar to convey some universal emotions.

The same argument can be used re: writing by men and women, I dont think we pick up books based on gender of writer, so why would we pick up a book based on whether author is Asian or not. We like certain stories maybe because we would identify with the experiences captured in a story. So perhaps if you are Asian, you will read something by an Asian author because you want to see what another person may think or feel about a similar experience. However, a Western author can very well capture such an experience too as many life experiences are universal. However, that's just from a reader's perspective. Although I think the judging panel would do well with some Asians in it, I also think judging writing should be an more from a perspective of what good writing is from a universal context. That's my two sens :)

bibliobibuli said...

wah! if i were your supervisor i'd just hand you your masters right now and have done with it!

thanks so much for taking time and trouble to write this.

(i must get away from my computer this minute before my blog sucks my whole life into it but coming back to it for sure)

Hsian said...

I also agree with Dreamer Idiot in that if you want to introduce Asian judges, then it also has to be a representative lot - as we have Indians, Chinese, Indonesians, Malays etc. And within these groups there are also so many fragments! Overseas Chinese and Mainland Chinese, American Chinese, Chinese who grew up in European countries, then also English Speaking Chinese and Chinese Speaking Chinese like we have in our own country. Even though Amy Tan is Chinese and I don't think all the things mentioned in her books also represents what I feel too being Chinese as it subscribes to a romantic ideal of what a Chinese person's experiences are in a way. But from a universal perspective some of her themes deal with things like cultural conflicts, displacement, trying to belong, finding your roots.

Anonymous said...

Example of a specific difference between Asian and Western storytelling:

If you are watching a Hong Kong movie and the guy's goldfish dies... expect BIG trouble

Anonymous said...

Strikes me the whole thing is about the readers. An Eskimo could write a book about Eskimo life but aim it solely at a Spanish-speaking reader. The author would have to write with that audience in mind. Would it make the author any less Eskimo if the book sold thousands in Madrid and none in the frozen north? (Books fly off the shelf up there).

Generally speaking, in order to make Asian stories popular outside Asia there needs to be a certain exoticization of the subject/characters/landscape. Local audience's may not fall for this, might even find it embarrassing. Although I find that Asians are often quite happy to see the exotic in their own world.

For many, the Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa's images of Japan define what Japan looks and feels like. And yet his films are more popular outside Japan than within. Many Japanese cringe with embarrassment at the idea of Samurais and one Japanese critic told me politely that "Kurosawa is our gift to you." For years, despite the fact that he could get a standing ovation at any international film festival, he couldn't raise a yen for any film projects. He's considered a great director in Japan but others vie for the place of the greatest.

So I'm guessing that the audience decides. Even then the distinctions are ultimately meaningless. Bollywood movies are huuuge in India, the Middle East and Africa and yet are considered ridiculous in the west. Meanwhile Satyajit Ray's small movies (rambling and "Asian" in their non three act structure) are hailed by international critics as the greatest Indian movies and yet few have seen them in India and David Lean (director of Lawrence of Arabia) couldn't sit through one without falling asleep.

(Dreamer Idiot - Very interesting what you wrote but I've got one thing to say to you - Paragraphs. See me after class).

Anonymous said...

there are HK movies where a guy's goldfish dies and nothing happens. what are you talking about?


Anonymous said...

Was it in the very English A Fish Called Wanda that Michael Palin's goldfish died and lots happened...Now did that have a 3-act arc that my Asian mentality missed? Dunno, good movie anyway.

The idea that as a Malaysian, thus Asian, I might have a deeper understanding of a generic Asian storytelling format is very appealing (kinda let's celebrate our Asianness thing) but hard to swallow whole. As an unsofistikated reader, a good read is a good read, whatever the arc. A lot depends on whether I 'get' the language and the writing style I'm reading.

Anonymous said...

I am a layperson and have not read so many literature especially in English. When we speak of some sort of a prestigious prize it is all about books which were written in Enblish or translated to it. I being a Japanese feel that I am one of the lucky ones who can appreciate books which are written in English. I am one of the privileged because I have lived abroad and also that I had the ability to communicate in English. Where as many of my Japanese friends even if they had the chance to live abroad they have not enjoyed the life I had.
What I am trying to say here is that it is a fact that it may seem that we have become very global but yet we are the very minority in this world to be able to read and write and appreciate the world of literature no matter how Asian or Western we are. It just so happens that the internet is dominated by using English which is dominating because I guess from historical reasons.
I felt something fishy of how the Asian award only being chosen by Caucasians and not even being open about who the panel of judges are.
I sense some feeling that, that paticular award was kind of being arrogant, meaning if it is written in English and is from an Asian writer it is best to be examined by a native English speaker. Can it be that I am being ever so prejudiced? or perverse?

bibliobibuli said...

dreamer idiot - talking of influences and rushdie, he was also of course influenced by latin american magical realism ... there are no porous border between one work of fiction and another

hsian - yes, such categorisations are often crude and don't reflect the real picture. at the same time lit awards always draw a circle around a particular group of people, inviting generalisations (women's lit, asian writing etc.)

kam - very interesting point how an audience inside and outside a country might perceive a book or film very differently. great examples!

nury and others - no more goldfish on this blog please, we got into dangerous territory with them once before thanks to shirley conran. (don't go trying this one at home)

anon - a good read is a good readi think a lot of readers would feel that (inc. me!)

naho - thanks a lot and i'm so glad you came by because it is so good to exchange thoughts on books with you and exchange cultural perspectives. the panel of judges of course was announced when the prize was first announced so it isn't a secret although it seems v. strange if it isn't mentioned on the website.

can i ask you (and you are in a very good position to know since you are an avid reader in japanese and english) what do you think are the main differences between fiction written by japanese authors and fiction written by western authors? does the story develop in the same kind of way?

Anonymous said...

Reading japanese fiction in translation, I find that that the tone is more often 'dark' than in western body of fiction. I love Kuniko MUkoda (in translation) and one of my favourite short stories of hers is The Fake Egg. YOu can read it online! at:

Also the novel The Doctor's Wife by Sawako Ariyoski...also, The River Ki is great.

Fumiko Enchi (The Waiting Years) is wonderful, too.

I of course read Banana YOshimoto. I have read a lot of Japanese women's fiction and just cannot seem to find anything that is 'light' in tone. Someone did explain to me that it was very much a cultural thing...

People like to talk about Kwabata, Oe, and the men, but I tell you, Japanese women writers beat them by a mile. Especially the ones I mentioned.

Khamwas said...

Hey, I completely agree that the plot structure of Wester and Asian storytelling are different. I have not read exorbitant amounts of fiction from the eastern world but it was first brought to my attention via Asian Cinema. I think the best and most intuitive starting point for developing a feel for how the story structure differs would be to watch a few of the numerous movies that have been produced by hollywood and by an asian company. For example the film "The Departed" was bought from a Hong Kong movie titled, "Infernal Affairs". There is a Chinese movie titled "A woman, a gun, and a noodle shop" that was adapted from the cohen brothers film "Cold Simple", and we can even look at movies such as "The Ring" and "Ringu" or the American and Japanese versions of "The Grudge". I've noticed a few superficial differences such as character relationships feeling underdeveloped when we are supposed to feel an investment in a character's plight and feeling like the movie has climaxed even though there are still a few story arcs that are tied up afterwords. Also the structural difference is incredibly evident in mystery, plotting, and thriller story lines. Just take a look at the differences between the "Ocean 11" franchise structure as opposed to the recent police mystery thriller "Cold War" that came out of Hong Kong. It is difficult to follow for me and I always feel like i'm behing the logic. This is definitely something I will have to research further. I actually stumbled on this discussion looking for answers to these very problems. Great Post