Pang Ho Cheung’s (彭浩翔) low-budget category III film, Vulgaria <低俗喜劇>, has remained in the top spot at the Hong Kong box office since its low-profile release on August 9, 2012.
Vulgaria, starring Chapman To (杜汶澤) and Ronald Cheng (鄭中基), is a sex comedy film that tells the story of a struggling movie producer who is forced to remake a new version of the soft porn film, Confessions of a Concubine <宮人我要>, after a triad leader agreed to invest in his films. It was reported that 90% of the dialogue in the film is marked by foul language, in which Pang Ho Cheung used as a device to add more “realism” to the wild scenarios presented in the movie. Vulgaria took a little less than three weeks to film the entire movie, and less than a month for Pang Ho Cheung to finish its post-production.
Despite the lack of promotion and its Category III status, Vulgaria has maintained its #1 status in the Hong Kong box office. Since its release on August 9, Vulgaria has earned a total of $11.9 million HKD from 36 locations, more than four times the gross of Hong Kong and China co-produced blockbuster, The Silent War <聽風者>, which debuted in Hong Kong at the same time as Vulgaria. Despite its success in mainland China and frequent promotions in Hong Kong, The Silent War underperformed at the box office and only earned $2.9 million HKD.
Other blockbuster films, such as Hollywood’s Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, The Bourne Legacy, and The Dark Knight Rises, were also overshadowed by Vulgaria’s success in Hong Kong.
“The Silent War” is Predictable
The Silent War’s failure in the Hong Kong box office was unexpected. The Silent War stars box office darlings, Tony Leung (梁朝偉) and Zhou Xun (周迅). The espionage thriller is directed by Alan Mak (麥兆輝) and Felix Chong (莊文強), the creators behind the highly acclaimed and popular Infernal Affairs <無間道> film series. Infernal Affairs broke many box office records during its theatrical run in Hong Kong in 2002, and many critics claimed that it was this film franchise that revived Hong Kong’s dying film industry.
Alan Mak and Felix Chong’s second collaborative effort, 2009’s Overheard <竊聽風雲>, also drew in large attendance records in Hong Kong. Although its sequel, Overheard 2 <竊聽風雲2>, performed slightly poorer than its predecessor, it earned enough at the box office to offset its production costs.
So why did The Silent War fail at the Hong Kong box office? Although the film is visually impressive, many critics thought the movie lacked suspense with underwhelming action sequences. The story of The Silent War, which depicts the battles between the spies of China’s Communist Party battling the Kuomintang – and with the Communist spies winning in the end – also disgruntled many Hong Kong viewers, scoffing the movie as predictable and unexciting.
However, in mainland China, The Silent War earned great success. Since its debut in August 9, the film has earned over $200 million RMB in the mainland Chinese box office, becoming one of China’s most successful summer blockbusters of the year.
This article is written by Addy for JayneStars.com.
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