Above: Donnie Yen stars in “The Monkey King”.
Last year was a successful year for Chinese and Hong Kong films. Mainland China’s Lost in Thailand <人再囧途之泰囧> broke records by becoming the highest-grossing Chinese film of all time. After only one month of release, Hong Kong’s Cold War <寒戰> became the highest-grossing Hong Kong film of 2012, and talks of a sequel are already happening. The crime thriller film is currently leading the 2013 Hong Kong Film Awards with 12 nominations, battling The Bullet Vanishes <消失的子彈>, also with 12 nominations.
This year will be another big blockbuster showdown in Greater China. Internationally acclaimed Chinese filmmakers, such as Feng Xiaogang (冯小刚), Zhang Yimou (張藝謀), and Tian Zhuangzhuang (田壮壮), will be releasing exciting projects. Hong Kong will also continue to do what they do best – producing high-quality wuxia and action films with the likes of Tsui Hark (徐克), Ronny Yu (于仁泰), and the Pang brothers returning to the scene.
Here is what to expect in 2013!
Cheang Pou Soi’s “The Monkey King”
Cheang Pou Soi (鄭保瑞) first announced the 3D film in early 2010, also confirming Donnie Yen’s (甄子丹) casting as the titular Monkey King. With a production budget of close to $500 million HKD, The Monkey King <大鬧天宮> is also one of Hong Kong’s most star-studded films in recent history. Donnie Yen is one big name. Other big names include Chow Yun Fat (周潤發), Aaron Kwok (郭富城), Gigi Leung (梁詠琪), Kelly Chen (陳慧琳), and Liu Ye (刘烨). Pop icons such as Peter Ho (何潤東), Joe Chen (陳喬恩), Him Law (羅仲謙), and Zhang Zilin (张梓琳) will also star. The story of the action-packed 3D film will be based on selected chapters of the classic novel Journey to the West <西遊記>, which tells the story of the Monkey King’s rebellion against the Jade Emperor of Heaven.
Tsui Hark’s “Detective Dee the Prequel”
Tsui Hark’s last martial arts film, 2010’s Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame <狄仁傑之通天帝國>, garnered mediocre critical reviews, but nonetheless performed fairly well in the box office, which is enough to convince Tsui to continue his Detective Dee film series. A prequel to Mystery of the Phantom Flame, Detective Dee the Prequel <狄仁傑前傳> stars Taiwanese actor, Mark Chao (趙又廷) as a much younger Detective Dee, who at the time worked as a court constable before becoming chancellor at Empress Wu Zetian’s court. Carina Lau (劉嘉玲) will reprise her role as Wu Zetian. New cast members include Angelababy,William Feng (冯绍峰), Lin Gengxin (林更新), and Korean actor Kim Bum.
Ronny Yu’s “Saving General Yang”
Produced by Raymond Wong (黃百鳴), the period war film Saving General Yang<忠烈楊家將> is inspired by a true story. Based on the traditional folklore Generals of the Yang Family <楊家將>, the film tells the story of one father and his seven sons, in which none but one who survives the Great War. The films boasts about the good-looking male cast, which includes Adam Cheng (鄭少秋) as the father, and Ekin Cheng (鄭伊健), Yu Bo (于波), Vic Chou (周渝民), Li Chen (李晨), Raymond Lam (林峯), Wu Chun (吳尊), and Fu Xinbo (付辛博) as the seven sons.
The Pang Brother’s “Inferno 3D”
It has been three years since twin brothers, Danny (彭發) and Oxide Pang (彭順), have released their last film. Inferno 3D <逃出生天3D>, which stars Sean Lau (劉青雲) and Louis Koo (古天樂), is a 3D fire disaster film that tells the story of two firefighter brothers. The film will take place in Guangzhou, China, and is slated for a December 2013 release.
Benny Chan’s “The Cartel War”
The new crime film, The Cartel War <掃毒>, immediately caught the attention of the international media with the casting of two Hong Kong Film Award Best Actor winners – Sean Lau and Nick Cheung (張家輝) – as well as the two-time TVB Best Actor winner – Louis Koo. With a budget of $16 million HKD, the action thriller will also be filmed in Hong Kong, Thailand, and Macau.
Jiang Wen’s “Gone with the Bullets”
Chinese filmmaker Jiang Wen (姜文) returned to prominence with the critical and commercial success of his 2010 action-comedy film, Let the Bullets Fly <让子弹飞>, the highest-grossing Chinese film of 2010. This year, Jiang Wen went ahead to continue his Bullets trilogy series with Gone with the Bullets <一步之遥>, which is roughly regarded as the sequel to Let the Bullets Fly despite the two film’s separate plots. Set in the same time period as Let the Bullets Fly – 1920s warring China – the film will star Jiang, Gong Li (巩俐), and Ge You (葛优). Let the Bullets Fly have broken records by grossing over 1 million RMB at the film’s opening midnight screens. Will Gone with the Bullets will surpass that record?
Feng Xiaogang’s “Si Ren Ding Zhi”
After wartime famine epic, Back to 1942 <一九四二>, Feng Xiaogang will go back to his comedic roots. The acclaimed director’s upcoming film for 2013, Si Ren Ding Zhi <私人定制>, tells the hilarious conflicts arising between a Haigui (a slang term for Chinese people who have returned to mainland China after studying abroad) and a parvenu. Feng confidently proclaimed that the quality of Si Ren Ding Zhi will be able to compete with Hollywood blockbusters.
Zhang Yimou’s “Lu Fan Yanshi”
Zhang Yimou’s next film will be yet another adaptation from famous Chinese novelist, Geling Yan (严歌苓). After the tragic The Flowers of War <金陵十三钗>, the award-winning filmmaker will return to the scene with a smaller film, Lu Fan Yan Shi <陆犯焉识>, which is based on Yan’s latest 2011 novel. The film will star Chen Daoming (陈道明) as Lu Yanshi, a traditional Chinese intellectual during the 1950s.
John Woo’s “Love and Let Love” and Tian Zhuangzhuang’s “Sheng Tang Wei Ji”
Three years ago, John Woo (吳宇森) and Tian Zhuangzhuang both released their last films. While Woo found commercial success with Red Cliff <赤壁>, Tian suffered from the poor critical and commercial success of The Warrior and the Wolf <狼灾记>.
Woo will return in 2013 with the romance film, Love and Let Love <生死戀>, which still star Zhang Ziyi (章子怡), Chang Chen (張震), and Song Hye Kyo.
Tian will also return with a romance film – Sheng Tang Wei Ji <盛唐危机>, a period film about Tang Dynasty’s Yang Yuhuan, one of the Four Beauties of Ancient China. Sheng Tang Wei Ji stars Fan Bingbing (范冰冰) as Yang, Leehom Wang (王力宏) as famed poet Li Bai, and Shun Oguri (小栗旬) as Li Mao, the Prince of Shou. The future of Sheng Tang Wei Ji is uncertain, however, due to some creative disagreements between ex-director Kwak Jae Yong and the film’s producers.
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Tags: Aaron Kwok, Angelababy, Benny Chan, Carina Lau, Chang Chen, Chow Yun Fat, Danny Pang, Detective Dee: The Prequel, Donnie Yen, Ekin Cheng, Feng Xiaogang, Fu Xinbo, Ge Ye, Gigi Leung, Gone With the Bullets, Gong Li, Him Law, Inferno 3D, Jiang Wen, Joe Chen, John Woo, Kelly Chen, Kim Bum, Li Chen, Lin Gengxin, Liu Ye, Louis Koo, Love and Let Love, Lu Fan Yanshi, Mark Chao, Nick Cheung, Oxide Pang, Peter Ho, Raymond Lam, Raymond Wong, Ronny Yu, Saving General Yang, Sean Lau, Si Ren Ding Zhi, Song Hye Kyo, The Cartel War, The Monkey King, Tsui Hark, Vic Chou, William Feng, Wu Chun, Yu Bo, Zhang Yimou, Zhang Zilin, Zhang Ziyi