Well Go USA has a pair of delights proudly rolling out on July 30. One is The Swindlers and you can learn more about that here. The other hails from debut director Huang Bo with The Island as the U.S. distro company now readies the film’s Blu-Ray release.
Teng Hutao’s new action sci-fi epic, Shanghai Fortress, is finally poised for an August 9 release in China. Times Vision picked up sales rights a little over a week ago at Cannes with the firm showing optimism for its roster of titles, particularly for the new film based on Jiang Nan’s 2006 novel of the same name.
To say that China has had its fair share of post-production hurdles on big scale feature film projects is an understatement if there ever was. Save for Yoozoo’s currently languishing adaptation of The Three Body Problem, there have been some successes, most recently with The Wandering Earth sci-fi garnering nearly $300 million dollars in its first six days with actor Wu Jing leading the cast.
Dan goes to find help from his surrogate father Kong (Eric Tsang), an unscrupulous and ruthless crime boss who commissioned the heist. Kong assigns Dan a new mission.
With action auteur John Woo slowly and surely easing back into headline relevance with his own work, it’s only a worthy to weigh in on filmmaker Stephen Fung now forthcoming with his own humble nod as The Adventurers looks to rekindle remake potential this summer. The film is a reimagining of Woo’s Once A Thief (1991), now the center of an adventure that sees actor Andy Lau in the role of an ex-con freshly out of prison and back in the heist game in timely fashion with actor Jean Reno as the supersleuth hot on his tail.
Also starring are actresses Shu Qi and Zhang Jingchu, and actors Eric Tsang and Yi Sha and with a release set for August 11, a new official trailer has finally arrived and quite fleshed out as a broadly-scoped international affair. Take a look below!
I admit, it took me a few months to get a grip on the fact that The Adventurers and the upcoming reboot of John Woo classic Once A Thief were the same damn movie being directed by Stephen Fung. That said, I can finally sharpen my focus a bit and follow up on the news as it comes, and now with word that filming is currently underway in Prague following the most recent marriage of Fung and the film’s leading lady, actress Shu Qi.
The film was announced earlier this year at HKFilmart under joint venture Flagship Entertainment with Fung to direct, and also lists actors Andy Lau and Tony Yang, and actress Zhang Jingchu. Rounding out the cast this week according to reports from Chinese outlet Mingpao, is actor Jean Reno, who stars as an inspector in the relentless cat-and-mouse pursuit of Lau’s role, a master thief joined by his crack heist team as they trek through Europe in search of treasure.
Lau joins actors Huang Xiaoming and Wong Cho-lam this October for Flagship’s upcoming prospect, Wong Jing’s Mission Milano ahead of the actor’s December appearance in the ensemble epic, The Great Wall, and Herman Yau’s 2017 actioner, Shockwave. Fung’s The Adventurers is currently slated to release next summer.
The film itself is fantastic with a great share of comedy and spectacle throughout. Some of it is a little annoying with at least one of the characters getting on my bad side and I talk about it all in my review from last year. Apart from that, know that a sequel is coming, and the best way to prepare yourself is to see what came before it. Or read the book, whatever your preference is.
It’s been somewhat of a season of “firsts” for me here and there, and such is the case with director Wuershan‘s newest film, Mojin: The Lost Legend. I don’t exactly know what the effect would have been if the production company simply left its original title, “The Ghouls”, although the new title makes sense and gives meaning to the story as it unfolds.
The film focuses thematically on an age-old clandestine group of tomb raiders who once existed for the purpose of dig for treasure in order to feed China’s poor during wartime. Based on Zhang Muye’s novel “Ghost Blows Out The Light”, actor Chen Kun plays a discouraged former member of said group, the Mojin, alongside Huang Bo as they struggle to hustle on the streets of 1980’s New York. The story takes an intriguing turn when a mysterious image of an enchanted stone, the Equinox Flower, reappears, fanning the flames once more for our characters, with the help of an American archeologist played by actress Shu Qi, to trek back to Inner Mongolia twenty years after a tragic incident redefined the course of their lives. However when the mining company turns out to have a much more nefarious purpose than it appears and a curse is unleashed in the very cave they enter, personal greed, bitter memories and moral quandries will ultimately determine if the treasured Flower will be worth unearthing in exchange for their lives.
I watched a slightly rough-around-the-edges screener but it was ample enough in presenting Wuershan’s vision of what he wants audiences to see when the film opens in China and the U.S. on December 18. The film wastes little time showcasing its ambitious visual cope, illustrating what it’s like being a wartime Robin Hood, dodging an arsenal of booby traps and many of the adventurous and thrilling things that come with being a Mojin. The special effects are a mix of good and bad, but worked in a lot of places where it counted, which is more than I can say for much of the comedy the film tries to evoke from at least one supporting character.
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Most of the acting was good and the action sequences were fun to watch, full of intense and exciting moments and sometimes great CGI. Chen Kun and Shu Qi share a largely tense and awkward pseudo-romance as Hu Bayi and Shirley, a subplot that thankfully doesn’t fall on its face. It’s one of the several story elements that work well in the script in addition to Qi‘s acting which lends its fair share of charm and purpose, making use of her role just nicely on top of her physicality in the zombie fighting scenes next to Kun.
Huang Bo plays Wang, one of the film’s two primary comedy angles next to actor Xia Yu who plays Big Gold Tooth. Both are more slightly savvy on hustling and making money but still share specific differences between each other that make them a rather odd, yet interesting pair. Angelababy appears in several of the film’s key sequences that explore the impetus for much of the drama that unfolds between Hu and Wang and how Shirley fits into it all. Xiaoqing Liu plays a mysterious cult leader who doesn’t have much to do other than play her part as the key antagonist, and while she doesn’t have much to do, she and supporting axe-wielding villainess, actress Cherry Ngan are still able to make their roles work much more than some the over-the-top villains next to them.
Mojin: The Lost Legend is a fun adventure film full of intertwining drama and timeless fantasy. It has an underlying subtext often taps into messages of transcendence and forgiveness that bode beautifully for the overall character development, and does so with characters that are relatable and often funny. To that end though, much of the formula that plays out through some of the more poignant and serious moments of the film tend to get overwritten a lot of the time by what is sorely mistaken for supporting comedy. Instead of what should be some of the more grounded and heartfelt mood when it rises, you get lots of excess that almost damages the film which ultimately saves itself through its much more prominent strengths, including several of the principal cast.
If you’re the kind who loves a good exotic and haunting action adventure film like The Mummy and Indiana Jones franchises, you’ll be delighted by many of the jewels Mojin: The Lost Legend has to offer. It leaves a bit to be desired in quite a few areas, but if you can still manages to deliver a showcase an amazing cinematic feat with notable performances, plenty of ghoulish and colorful spectacle, and enough emotional depth to hold a candle to.
Personally, I’d hold a candle for Shu Qi any day. But that’s just me.
Seven years in the making under painstaking and tedious production hinderances are largely what make this one a crowning achievement despite its ballooned budget. Alas, this should be yet another welcoming addition to audiences in the U.S. when the film releases via Well Go USA in the next several months after folks in TIFF attendees get to lend an eye first.
It’s been a long, long journey for the The Puppetmaster and Goodbye South, Goodbye helmer, Taiwanese filmmaker Hou Hsien-Hsiao whose latest martial arts debut with the $14 million dollar action romance epic, The Assassin, initially saw cameras rolling as early as 2010 and 2012 before being plagued by a series of unfortunate stops and starts. Those who are familiar with the DNA of Hou’s work might empathize just a little bit as it was new ground for the director who talked about his experience back in 2014 when he officially wrapped production, and needless to say, the wait is just a little bit closer to being over with the virility of the latest poster for the film which you can take a look at below, courtesy of international sales agent, Wild Bunch.