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The 24 hottest projects at this year's Hong Kong Filmart

There is a thrilling selection of Chinese-language titles at Filmart this year. Liz Shackleton picks out some of the most promising.

With very few Hong Kong or mainland Chinese sellers making the journey to this year’s European Film Market in Berlin, Filmart offers a chance for buyers to catch up with the Chinese-language titles that will be rolled out in the region for the rest of the year.

After serving up the biggest film of the Chinese New Year holiday — Kung Fu Yoga, starring Jackie Chan and directed by Stanley Tong — China’s Sparkle Roll Media has launched a Hong Kong-based sales arm that is selling Ding Sheng’s reboot of the A Better Tomorrow series.

Other high-profile action titles new to market include Distribution Workshop’s Extraordinary Mission, from the creative teams behind the Infernal Affairs and Overheard series, and Huayi Brothers’ crime drama Explosion, starring Duan Yihong.

Previously announced projects moving closer to completion include John Woo’s highly anticipated action thriller Manhunt; Leste Chen’s high-concept thriller Battle Of Memories; Herman Yau’s Shock Wave, starring Andy Lau; Wong Jing’s Chasing The Dragon, with Donnie Yen; and Fruit Chan’s Invincible Dragon, starring Zhang Jin (Ip Man 3).

At the lower end of the budget spectrum, Hong Kong filmmakers are also turning out local stories such as Chapman To’s The Empty Hands and Andrew Wong’s With Prisoners, along with quirky horrors such as Pak Wing Yan’s Vampire Cleanup Department, which is already shaping up as a fantasy film festival hit.

With growth at the China box office flatlining last year, local producers will hope at least some of these titles keep up the momentum of the Chinese New Year holiday period. Kung Fu Yoga emerged as the top-grossing release of the holiday with $250m, followed by Journey To The West: The Demons Strike Back with $236m. These titles are now the third and fifth highest-grossing Chinese films of all time.

Battle Of Memories

Battle Of Memories

Dir Leste Chen

The follow-up to Leste Chen’s 2014 psychological thriller The Great Hypnotist tells the story of a famous novelist who recovers from a nasty divorce by having a decade of his memory wiped. But when he tries to recover the lost memories, he finds himself in the mind of a serial killer. Huang Bo, Xu Jinglei and Yang Zishan head the cast of the $22m film, which is scheduled for release on April 28.

Contact Annabelle Hao, Wanda Pictures, shuanghao0605@gmail.com

Beautiful Accident

Dir Ho Wi Ding

Gwei Lun-mei and Chen Kun head the cast of this romantic comedy, directed by Taipei-based filmmaker Ho Wi Ding, whose credits include award-winning comedy drama Pinoy Sunday.

The Huayi Brothers production follows a hard-bitten attorney who is mistakenly sent back to Earth when she dies in a car accident, and is horrified by her new life as a housewife with a strange husband and two kids. Also starring Wang Jingchun and Ouyang Nana, the film is in post-production for release in early summer 2017.

Contact Leslie Chen, IM Global, leslie_chen@imglobalfilm.com

A Better Tomorrow 4

Dir Ding Sheng

Jackie Chan’s long-time collaborator Ding Sheng is rebooting John Woo’s classic A Better Tomorrow series with this ‘heroic bloodshed’ action title, which is in pre-production. Starring Wang Kai (Railroad Tigers), Ray Ma (Ice Fantasy) and Talu Wang (Railroad Tigers, Our Times), the film follows the conflict between two brothers — one heading a smuggling operation and the other an up-and-coming star in the police department’s narcotics division.

Contact Andree Sham, Sparkle Roll Media, andree.sham@sparklerollmedia.com

Chasing The Dragon

Chasing The Dragon

Dirs Wong Jing, Jason Kwan

Donnie Yen plays real-life 1970s gangster Ng Sek-ho (aka Crippled Ho) in this action-crime drama, backed by Bona Film Group and Wong Jing’s Mega-Vision Project Workshop. Andy Lau also stars and Wong Jing directs along with acclaimed cinematographer Jason Kwan. Now in production, the film follows Ho from his days as an illegal immigrant through his rise to becoming one of Hong Kong’s most powerful drug lords.

Contact Angela Wong, Mega-Vision Project Workshop, angelaolwong@mvphk.biz 

The Empty Hands

Dir Chapman To

Following his directorial debut Let’s Eat, actor Chapman To has directed this drama about the daughter of a karate coach whose only wish is to sell her late father’s dozo. But when the day arrives, she finds that 51% of the business was left to one of her father’s worst pupils. Currently in post-production, the film stars To, Stephy Tang, Yasuaki Kurata and Stephen Au.

Contact Felix Tsang, Golden Scene, felix@goldenscene.com

Explosion

Explosion

Dir Chang Zheng

Produced by Huayi Brothers, this crime drama stars Duan Yihong (The Dead End) as a technician who is left as the sole survivor of an explosion in a mine shaft. When he begins to investigate the incident, some of his fellow miners are murdered and he is framed as the prime suspect. Wang Jingchun (Time Raiders) and Yu Nan (The Expendables 2) also star in Explosion, which is in post-production for release in the summer of 2017.

Contact Leslie Chen, IM Global, leslie_chen@imglobalfilm.com

Extraordinary Mission

Dirs Alan Mak, Anthony Pun

Huang Xuan (Blind Massage), Duan Yihong and Lang Yueting (Mountain Cry) star in this crime action title from the team behind the Infernal Affairs and Overheard series. Scripted by Felix Chong, Extraordinary Mission follows a police officer who goes undercover in a drugs cartel and discovers his boss’s colleague has been held captive by the gang for 10 years. In post-production, the film is co-directed by Alan Mak and acclaimed DoP Anthony Pun.

Contact Virginia Leung, Distribution Workshop, virginia@distributionworkshop.com

Father And Son

Dir Yuan Weidong

Scheduled for release in July, Yuan Weidong’s comedy revolves around a businessman who fakes his own father’s death in order to collect condolence money and repay his debt to gangsters. When the plan goes wrong, his father travels to Macau to rescue him. Da Peng (Pancake Man) and Fan Wei (I Am Not Madame Bovary) head the cast of the Wanda Pictures production. Yuan previously directed In The Blue (2006) and Out Of Control (2008), and was also assistant director on The Taking Of Tiger Mountain.

Contact Annabelle Hao, Wanda Pictures, shuanghao0605@gmail.com

The Golden Monk

Dirs Wong Jing, Billy Chung

Starring Zheng Kai and Zhang Yuqi, Wong Jing’s action adventure tells the story of a monk who realises he is the reincarnation of a fairy spirit that was cast down from heaven and seeks out his true fairy love. Now in post-production, the film is produced by Beijing Hairun Pictures and Mega-Vision Project Workshop. Zheng’s credits include Personal Tailor, Running Man and Zhang Yimou’s The Great Wall.

Contact Angela Wong, Mega-Vision Project Workshop, angelaolwong@mvphk.biz

Have A Nice Day

Have A Nice Day

Dir Liu Jian

Fresh from its world premiere at Berlin, where it received rave reviews and strong buyer interest, Liu Jian’s animated feature is a black comedy about a chauffeur who steals $1m from his boss to fix his girlfriend’s failed plastic surgery, setting off a farcical chain of events. Produced by Yang Cheng’s NeZha Bros Pictures and Le-joy Animation Studio, the film is Liu’s second feature following Piercing I (2010), which screened at Annecy and won the best animated feature prize at the Asia Pacific Screen Awards.

International contact Memento Films,sales@memento-films.com

Asia contact Julian Chiu, Edko Films, chiujulian@edkofilm.com.hk

Invincible Dragon

Dir Fruit Chan

Zhang Jin (Ip Man 3), JuJu Chan and mixed martial-arts star Anderson Silva star in this $20m action film, which Fruit Chan recently finished shooting in Hong Kong and Macau. Produced by Pegasus Motion Pictures, the film follows a detective on the trail of a serial killer who may have abducted his fiancé. Key crew also includes DoP Cheng Siu Keung (Election) and action director Stephen Tung Wei (Operation Mekong).

Contact Alvina Wong, Pegasus Motion Pictures, alvina.wong@pegasusmovie.com

The Liquidator

The Liquidator

Dir Xu Jizhou

Bill Kong produces this action title about a criminal psychologist tracking down a serial killer who targets people who have been acquitted of notable crimes and uses their guilt as his modus operandi.

The cast is headed by Deng Chao (The Mermaid), Taiwanese actor Ethan Ruan (The Assassin) and Hong Kong actress Karena Lam (Zinnia Flower). Currently in post-production for release in the second half of 2017, the film marks the feature debut of Xu Jizhou, who has directed several hit Chinese TV series.

Contact Julian Chiu, Edko Films, chiujulian@edkofilms.com.hk

Love Off The Cuff

Dir Pang Ho-Chueng

Miriam Yeung and Shawn Yue resume their roles as star-crossed lovers Cherie and Jimmy in Pang Ho-Cheung’s follow-up to romantic comedy hits Love In A Puff and Love In The Buff. In this third instalment, set in Hong Kong and Taipei, the couple’s relationship is tested when Jimmy’s childhood friend asks him to donate sperm for her artificial insemination. The film is scheduled for release in late April.

Contact FredTsui, MediaAsia, frederick_tsui@mediaasia.com

Manhunt

Manhunt

Dir John Woo

Chinese actor Zhang Hanyu and Japan’s Masaharu Fukuyama star in John Woo’s $50m action thriller Manhunt, which is in post-production after shooting in Japan. Produced by Chan Hing Kai and Gordon Chan, the film is based on a novel by Juko Nishimura about a lawyer who is framed for murder and sets out on a mission to clear his name. The book was first adapted into a popular 1976 Japanese film starring Ken Takakura.

Contact Fred Tsui, Media Asia, frederick_tsui@mediaasia.com

Meow

Dir Benny Chan

Benny Chan’s fantasy drama imagines a world where cats are an alien intelligence that secretly rule the world, as both free-spirited mafia dons or seemingly harmless household pets. Louis Koo and Ma Li head the human cast of the film, which is being lined up for a tentative summer release. Chan Hing Kai, who recently produced Weeds On Fire, is on board as a script consultant.

Contact May Yip,Emperor Motion Pictures, mayyip@emperorgroup.com

A Nail Clipper Romance

Dir Jason Kwan

The directing debut of acclaimed DoP Jason Kwan, this surreal romantic comedy tells the story of a Chinese-American surfer in Hawaii who meets a woman claiming to be a ‘nail clipper monster’ — a special sub-type of human that eats only nail clippers. Produced by Pang Ho-Cheung and starring Chang Hsiao-Chuan and Zhou Dongyu, the film is scheduled for Hong Kong release on April 14.

Contact Ricky Tse, Bravos Pictures, ricky.tse@bravospictures.com

Our Time Will Come

Dir Ann Hui

Following her critically acclaimed biopicThe Golden Era, Ann Hui is tackling another historical drama, this time following a group of plucky youths fighting for freedom during the Japanese occupation of Hong Kong. Eddie Peng and Zhou Xun head the cast of the film, which Bona Film Group is lining up for tentative release in July.

Contact Virginia Leung,Distribution Workshop, virginia@distributionworkshop.com

Reset

Reset

Dir Chang

Produced by Jackie Chan and directed by Korean filmmaker Chang, this sci-fi action adventure follows a female scientist who travels back in time to rescue her kidnapped son. Yang Mi (You Are My Sunshine) heads a cast that also includes Wallace Huo (The Honey Enemy), Taiwanese veteran King Shih-chieh(Brotherhood Of Blades) and newcomer Liu Chang. The film is in the final stages of post-production for tentative release in July.

Contact Clarence Tang, Golden Network Asia, clarence@goldnetasia.com

Shock Wave

Dir Herman Yau

Andy Lau is producing and stars in this $22m crime thriller about a cop up against a mob boss who is planning a bomb attack in the busiest cross-harbour tunnel in Hong Kong. The cast also includes Jiang Wu (A Touch Of Sin) and Philip Keung (Firestorm). Herman Yau (Ip Man: The Final Fight) is directing, while Dion Lam (Kung Fu Jungle) is on board as action choreographer.

Universe Entertainment and Bona Film Group are co-financing the film, which is in post-production for tentative release in April.

Contact Mia Sin, Universe Films Distribution, mia_sin@uih.com.hk

This Is Not What I Expected

Dir Derek Hui

Takeshi Kaneshiro and Zhou Dongyu head the cast of this $18m romantic drama about a talented chef at a Shanghai hotel who becomes involved with a guest, unaware that he is a ruthless acquisitions executive whose actions will end her employment. Currently in post-production, the film is produced by Peter Ho-sun Chan, who most recently directed Dearest and produced Derek Tsang’s sleeper hit Soul Mate. Derek Hui, an acclaimed editor with credits including Skiptrace and Soul Mate, makes his directorial debut with the film.

Contact Alice Lin, We Distribution, alice@wedistribution.com

Triple Threat

Dir Chad Stahelski

Scheduled to start shooting at the end of March, this action thriller unites three of Asia’s hottest action stars: Thailand’s Tony Jaa (xXx: Return Of Xander Cage), China’s Tiger Chen (Man Of Taichi) and Iko Uwais (The Raid) from Indonesia. Chad Stahelski, whose credits include John Wick and its sequel, is directing from a script by Dwayne Smith about a Chinese martial artist who goes to Mexico to rescue his ex-wife. The film is produced by Beijing-based Kungfuman Culture Media and Hamilton Entertainment.

Contact Elliot Tong, Arclight Films, elliot@arclightfilms.com

Vampire Clean-Up Department

Vampire Cleanup Department

Dir Pak Wing Yan

Writer Pak Wing Yan (Full Strike, I Love Hong Kong 2013) is making his directing debut with this reboot of Hong Kong’s comedy-horror vampire genre. Babyjohn Choi (The Way We Dance), Siu Ho Chin (Rigor Mortis) and Min Chen Lin head the cast of the film about a well-meaning vampire hunter who infuriates his boss by falling for a female vampire.

Scheduled for Hong Kong release on March 16, the film has been selected for Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival in April and Montreal’s Fantasia International Film Festival in July.

Contact Grace Chan, Young Live Entertainment, gcxfilm@gmail.com

With Prisoners

Dir Andrew Wong Kwok Kuen

Andrew Wong Kwok Kuen, assistant director on Wilson Yip’s Flash Point, makes his directing debut with this gritty drama based on a true story of a young gang leader trying to survive in a detention centre for juvenile offenders. Starring actor-singer Kelvin Kwan (Lan Kwai Fong 2) and Neo Yau Hawk-Sau (She Remembers, He Forgets), the film is scheduled for release on April 20.

Contact Ricky Tse, Bravos Pictures ricky.tse@bravospictures.com

Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight

Dir Wai Lun Lo

Clement Cheng, co-director of 2010 hit Gallants, is producing this adaptation of a popular Hong Kong novel about a zombie outbreak during a water shortage in Hong Kong. Wai Lun Lo is making his feature debut on the action thriller, while rising stars Michael Ning (Port Of Call), Louis Cheung (Keeper Of Darkness) and Cherry Ngan (The Way We Dance) head the cast.

Contact Grace Chan, Young Live Entertainment, gcxfilm@gmail.com

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