Have Kitsch, Will Travel

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This feels like one big dream," says a weary American woman to her husband, as they sit on a plane flying home. "Yeah," he enthuses, "but what a dream." Little do they know the plane will soon be forced to attempt an emergency landing. And little would an unenlightened audience suspect that it's watching a mainland Chinese film.

This is far from ordinary mainland movie fare. Shot on a scale few Asian filmmakers have attempted, China's first disaster picture, Crash Landing, assumes a Bruckheimeresque bravura. Modeled loosely on the 1970 disaster epic Airport, this reworking and its often...