BEIJING - For one Chinese TV extra, playing with the enemy has proved the secret of his success -- one that requires him to die as often as eight times a day.
Shi Zhongpeng, 26, works at the Hengdian film studio in the eastern province of Zhejiang, where scores of productions are shot every year about the Japanese invasion of China that became part of the Second World War.
He appeared as a member of the Japanese forces more than 200 times last year, the Qianjiang Evening News reported, sometimes dying on set eight times in a single day.
The secret to being picked by the casting teams, he was quoted as saying, was to "appear as sleazy as possible", so he adopts a ferocious look at auditions, while stooping slightly.
His biggest wish, he added, was to change sides and play a soldier of the Eighth Route Army, a Communist-led force within the Republic of China's military before and during the Second World War.
China and Japan have a bloody history, and are currently embroiled in a bitter territorial dispute over islands in the East China Sea.
A total of 150 movies or TV dramas were filmed at the Hengdian studio last year, 48 of them about the anti-Japanese war, the report said. Over the year there were 300,000 roles for extras, it added, 60 percent of them as Japanese soldiers.
China's film industry is subject to strict censorship, leaving only a limited number of subjects directors can focus on.
"There's a limit on costume stories and spy dramas are not allowed to be aired during prime time slots," the report quoted Zhou Weicheng, general manager of Greentown Media, as saying. "What can we shoot other than the anti-Japanese war?"