Festive films

2011/12/5 11:15:00 (Beijing Time)   Source:Global Times    By:Yang Zheqi

Whether you’re a regular moviegoer or a casual film fan, there comes a time in the year when everyone is waiting to see the latest releases. Yes, the annual New Year season (hesuidang in Chinese) is already upon us. With bigger-than-ever ambitions, it’s estimated that Chinese filmmakers will rake in a record 13 billion yuan ($2.03 billion) of gross domestic box office revenue this year. And more than a dozen Chinese films are going all out to vie for a market share of this incredible sum. Covering every genre imaginable, from comedy and epics, to action-adventure flicks and animation, most of these cinematic offerings boast huge budgets and star-studded cast and crew. The Global Times waded through this year’s forthcoming lineup and picked out some must-see blockbusters.

The Flowers of War

This war epic, which opens nationwide on December 16, is an intriguing collaboration between internationally famed Chinese director Zhang Yimou and Batman heartthrob Christian Bale. Based on the book The 13 Women of Nanjing by acclaimed writer Yan Geling, The Flowers of War tells the story of an American priest (played by Bale) who provides refuge to a group of schoolgirls and courtesans escaping the bloodthirsty Nanjing Massacre in 1937 shortly after the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression broke out. The film, which has already been selected as China’s official 2012 Oscar entry for Best Foreign Language Film, was meticulously put together with a price tag of a whopping $90 million. Working on “the best script I’ve ever read over the past two decades,” director Zhang Yimou injects his hallmark skill of energetic visuals into an enticing story. Breathless battle scenes add to this attractive mix.

Flying Swords of Dragon Gate 3-D

Coincidentally, or strategically perhaps, the holiday race is joined by Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, also released on December 16. This is the latest action flick from Hong Kong veteran martial arts director Hark Tsui. Starring international kung fu star Jet Li and renowned mainland actress Zhou Xun, the film is proudly billed as China’s very first production shot in 3-D. A sequel of sorts to the 1992 classic New Dragon Gate Inn, this film follows a group of martial arts fighters who reunite at the same Dragon Gate Inn to find their lost love and seek their revenge. Tsui, who specializes in frenzy-paced action pictures, combines his filmmaking abilities with today’s advanced 3-D technology to make Flying Swords of Dragon Gate a genuine visual feast.

The Monkey King 3-D

This 3-D animated movie is an affectionate tribute to the 1961 classic The Monkey King: Uproar in Heaven, an incredible feature-length animation that won Chinese filmmakers international acclaim. The Monkey King is a household name from one of the four Chinese classic novels Journey to the West, and this character has long been portrayed as a naughty and cheeky, yet brave, upright figure in a slew of stage, film and television productions. This latest 3-D enhanced remake of the original story is produced by the Shanghai Animation Film Studio and features an A-list cast who give their voices to these beloved characters. Among them are preeminent Chinese directors Chen Kaige and Feng Xiaogang, veteran actors Chen Daoming, Zhang Guoli, Chen Peisi and Liu Xiaoqing. Li Yang, founder of English-language education center Crazy English, dubbed the Monkey King. The Monkey King 3-D is slated to open nationwide on January 12, 2012.


The Great Magician

This long-awaited drama, which is scheduled for release next month, is directed by Hong Kong actor-turned television and film director Derek Yee. It stars Hong Kong heartthrob Tony Leung who returns to the big screen after a three-year hiatus following his 2009 period epic Red Cliff. Adapted from Zhang Haifan’s novel of the same name, The Great Magician is set in the early years of the Republic of China (1912–1949) and tells the story of a talented magician who fights against a formidable warlord in an attempt to win back his fiancée. With a whopping investment of $100 million, the film is not only an infectious story of two star-crossed lovers, but a spectacle featuring dazzling magic tricks and acrobatic stunts enhanced by top-of-the-range special effects.

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