Action films from major talents once gain dominate the top titles on offer from China and Hong Kong at this year’s AFM.

Wolf warriors 2 4

Wolf Warrior 2

Just as the Chinese film industry was starting to panic about the sluggish performance of local films, Wolf Warrior 2 leapt from the sidelines to become the highest-grossing Chinese film ever, with a staggering $860m gross. Directed by and starring Wu Jing, the patriotic, Africa-set action title restored Chinese audiences’ faith in local productions and is likely to inspire a rash of similarly themed films.

The recent National Day holidays (October 1-8) provided further high points, with body-swap comedy Never Say Die grossing more than $300m, while Wong Jing’s gangster biopic Chasing The Dragon pulled in $85m and Da Peng’s City Of Rock took $65m.

On the festival circuit, Chinese cinema could lift its head high again with Wang Bing’s challenging documentary Mrs Fang winning the Golden Leopard at Locarno and John Woo’s Manhunt premiering in Venice.

Now that local productions are roaring back to life, expectations are high for features released during the peak box-office season at the end of the year. Films scheduled for December include Chen Kaige’s Japan-China co-production Legend Of The Demon Cat, which is based on a Japanese novel and set in Tang Dynasty China; Yuen Woo-ping’s The Thousand Faces Of Dunjia, which pits martial-arts warriors against aliens; and Dante Lam’s Operation Red Sea, about a Chinese Navy rescue mission in Africa.

77 Days (Dir Zhao Hantang)

Based on a popular internet novel that has racked up more than 30 million hits, Zhao Hantang’s directorial debut tells the true story of a Shanghai youth as he travels on foot across one of the world’s last uninhabited wildernesses, Qiangtang on the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. Zhao also produces and stars with actress Jiang Yiyan (City Of Life And Death), while award-winning cinematographer Lee Ping Bin (The Assassin) shot the film’s high-altitude setting. Production companies on the film include Zhejiang Red Coral Pictures, Dafeng Films, Weichuang Dongfang Universal Film & Television and Hantang Quang Ying Film Company.

Contact Michael Rothstein, IM Global

Assassins and the missing gold

Source: Entertaining Power Co

Assassins And The Missing Gold

Assassins And The Missing Gold (working title) (Dir Jeffrey Lau)

Veteran filmmaker Jeffrey Lau, best known for the iconic A Chinese Odyssey series, is directing this martial-arts adventure about a group of assassins attempting to track down a stash of hidden gold. Max Zhang heads the cast, which also includes Andy On and Ada Choi, while behind-the-scenes talent includes art director Lau Man Hung (Call Of Heroes) and visual-effects director Cecil Cheng (Cold War). Currently in production, the film is produced by Entertaining Power Co.

Contact Grace Chan, Entertaining Power Co

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 currently in post-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

Big Brother (Dir Kam Ka Wai)

Following their successful collaboration on Chasing The Dragon, action star Donnie Yen reteams with producer Wong Jing on this contemporary action drama, also starring Joe Chen and Yu Kang. Yen plays a high-school teacher who uses some unconventional methods to tame the behaviour of his unruly students, until his ugly past returns to haunt him. Directed by Kam Ka Wai, who recently helmed the Wong Jing-produced action title Colour Of The Game, the film is produced by Super Bullet and Mega-Vision Project Production, and is currently in production for release in 2018.

Contact Angela Wong, Mega-Vision Project Workshop

The big call

Source: Universe Films Distribution

The Big Call

The Big Call (Dir Oxide Pang)

Currently in post-production, the latest action-suspense thriller from Oxide Pang (Bangkok Dangerous) follows Chinese police as they attempt to hunt down a telephone-fraud gang hiding out in Thailand. Filmed in China, Hong Kong, Thailand and Taiwan, the film stars Cheney Chen (Tiny Times series), Joseph Chang (Wild City), Gwei Lun Mei (Black Coal, Thin Ice) and Jiang Mengjie (Sword Master). Previously known as Fraud Squad, the $12m project is in post-production for tentative release in China on December 8.

Contact Mia Sin, Universe Films Distribution

The Brink (Dir Jonathan Li)

Max Zhang (Ip Man 3), Shawn Yue, Wu Yue and Janice Man star in this $15m action thriller about a cop who is caught in the crossfire between rival factions in a gold-smuggling ring. Currently in post-production, the film marks the feature debut of Jonathan Li, associate director on Overheard 2, Overheard 3 and Blind Detective. Soi Cheang and Paco Wong are producing for Hong Kong-based Sun Entertainment and YL Pictures, China’s iQiyi Motion Pictures and Sil-Metropole Organisation. The film is scheduled for Hong Kong release on November 23.

Contact Queenie Li, Bravos Pictures

Detective Chinatown II (Dir Chen Sicheng)

The sequel to Wanda Pictures’ 2015 hit action comedy Detective Chinatown again stars Wang Baoqiang and Liu Haoran, but this time US actor Michael Pitt (Ghost In The Shell) and Japan’s Satoshi Tsumabuki (The Assassin) are also joining the cast. Chen Sicheng, who helmed the first instalment, returns to direct. The story revolves around a wedding in New York that turns into a competition to find the missing godfather of the city’s Chinatown. Currently in production, the film is scheduled for release over Chinese New Year in February 2018.

Contact Dian Song, Wanda Pictures

Detective Dee And The Four Heavenly Kings (Dir Tsui Hark)

The third film in Huayi Brothers’ blockbuster Detective Dee franchise reunites the cast of the second instalment: Mark Chao, Feng Shaofeng, Lin Gengxin and Carina Lau. The story follows the titular crime-fighter as he battles a supernatural crimewave while defending himself against accusations of wrongdoing from his most formidable opponent, Empress Wu. Currently in production, the film is being lined up for release in July 2018.

Contact Michael Rothstein, IM Global

Invincible dragon

Source: Pegasus Motion Pictures

Invincible Dragon

Invincible Dragon (Dir Fruit Chan)

Max Zhang and mixed martial artist Anderson Silva star in Fruit Chan’s $12m action film about a detective on the trail of a serial killer who may have abducted his fiancée. Produced by Pegasus Motion Pictures, the film is currently in post-production after shooting in Hong Kong and Macau. Key crew also includes DoP Cheng Siu Keung (Election) and action director Stephen Tung Wei (Operation Mekong).

Contact Alvina Wong, Pegasus Motion Pictures

Ip Man 4 (Dir Wilson Yip)

The team behind the blockbuster Ip Man series is reteaming for a fourth instalment in the franchise, currently in pre-production, starring Donnie Yen as the legendary kung-fu master. Again scripted by Edmond Wong with Yuen Woo-ping as action director, the film follows Ip Man as he travels to the US, where his protégé Bruce Lee has opened a Wing Chung school, much to the displeasure of the local kung-fu masters. Pegasus is also in post-production on a spin-off to the franchise, Ip Man Legacy: Master Z, which is directed by Yuen and stars Max Zhang, Dave Bautista, Michelle Yeoh and Tony Jaa.

Contact Alvina Wong, Pegasus Motion Pictures

Knight Of Shadows: Walker Between Halfworlds (Dir Vash)

Currently in pre-production, this period action-comedy stars Jackie Chan as a demon hunter defending humanity from an inhuman invasion. When an evil force starts kidnapping village girls to feast on their souls, the demon hunter sets out to save them, assisted by his lawman sidekick and a group of friendly monsters. Produced by Kiefer Liu, executive producer on the blockbuster Monkey King series, the film is backed by iQiyi Pictures, Sparkle Roll Media and Golden Shore Films & Television. Delivery is expected in 2019.

Contact Clarence Tang, Golden Network Asia

Monster Hunt 2 (Dir Raman Hui)

The sequel to the 2015 blockbuster fantasy adventure, which grossed more than $400m worldwide, Monster Hunt 2 reunites the stars of the first instalment, Jing Boran and Bai Baihe, while Tony Leung Chiu-wai (The Grandmaster) has also joined the cast. The story follows the baby monster king Wuba as he faces another threat from the dark lord who plots to overthrow the empire. The film is being readied for release over Chinese New Year in February 2018.

Contact Julian Chiu, Edko Films

Namiya (Dir Han Jie)

An adaptation of Japanese author Keigo Higashino’s bestselling novel Miracles Of The Namiya General Store, this fantasy-drama stars Karry Wang (The Great Wall), Dilraba Dilmurat (Mr Pride Vs Miss Prejudice), Dong Zijian (Duckweed) and Lee Hong-chi (City Of Rock), with Jackie Chan making a special appearance. Directed by Han Jie (Mr Tree), the film revolves around three orphans who hide in a derelict store.

Contact Raymond Liu, Emperor Motion Pictures

Old beast

Source: Edko Films

Old Beast

Old Beast (Dir Zhou Ziyang)

Produced by Wang Xiaoshuai and Liu Xuan, this award-winning drama follows a man in his 60s who is kidnapped by his own children when he loses the money intended for his wife’s surgery. Zhou Ziyang made his narrative feature debut on the film, which premiered at this year’s First International Film Festival, Xining. The film recently played in competition at Tokyo International Film Festival. Wang and Liu previously worked together as director and producer on Red Amnesia.

Contact Julian Chiu, Edko Films

Once Upon A Time In The Northeast (Dir Kong Ergou)

Currently in post-production, this drama revolves around a nightclub manager whose entanglement with a beautiful girl in the north west of China leads to exile, murder, imprisonment and eventually redemption. The cast is headed by Xia Yu (Mojin — The Lost Legend), Hu Jun (Firestorm) and Zhang Jingchu (The Adventurers). Director Kong Ergou was previously an associate producer on John Woo’s The Crossing and executive producer on Dayyan Eng’s Wished.

Contact Fred Tsui, Media Asia

Operation Red Sea (Dir Dante Lam)

Following 2016 military-themed hit Operation Mekong, Dante Lam is tackling a story about the Chinese Navy’s attempt to rescue a group of Chinese hostages caught up in a coup in a North African republic. Zhang Yi, Huang Jingyu, Hai Qing and Du Jiang head the cast of the $72m action drama, which also features Zhang Hanyu in a special appearance. Currently in post-production, the film is being scheduled for release in the fourth quarter of 2017.

Contact Raymond Liu, Emperor Motion Pictures

Out Of Control (Dirs Axel Sand, Richard Lin)

Produced by Germany’s Hermann Joha (Fast Track: No Limits) and China’s Wilson Qiu (Cloud Atlas), this action thriller stars Hong Kong actress Cecilia Cheung as a Chinese superstar who falls victim to a kidnapping plot while attending Berlin International Film Festival. Korean star Choi Seung-hyun (aka T.O.P.) plays the secret agent attempting to save her, while the cast also includes Michael Trevino and David Cheung. Arclight Films is handling sales and will be screening the film here at AFM.

Contact Elliot Tong, Arclight Films

Theory Of Ambitions (Dir Philip Yung)

Following their collaboration on award-winning drama Port Of Call, Hong Kong director Philip Yung is reteaming with star Aaron Kwok on this $38m crime-action drama, which also stars Tony Leung Chiu-wai and Jennifer Du. Currently in production, the film is based on the true story of a group of corrupt cops in Hong Kong in the 1960s when the city was still under British colonial rule.

Contact Sara Law, Mei Ah Entertainment

The Thousand Faces Of Dunjia (Dir Yuen Woo-ping)

Tsui Hark and Nansun Shi are producing this martial-arts action fantasy directed by Yuen Woo-ping and starring Aarif Lee, Zhou Dongyu, Dong Chengpeng (aka Da Peng) and Ni Ni. Set during the Northern Song Dynasty, the story follows a band of martial-arts warriors who secretly protect the human race from evil outer-space creatures. The film is in post-production for release in mid-December.

Contact Virginia Leung, Distribution Workshop

The Trough (Dir Nick Cheung)

Hong Kong actor Nick Cheung’s third film as director following Ghost Rituals and Keeper Of Darkness, The Trough follows an undercover cop who unveils collusion between the highest level of government and the triads. Cheung also stars in the $22m action title, along with Chinese actresses Xu Jinglei and Yu Nan. Currently in post-production, the film is being lined up for release in the first half of 2018.

Contact Christy Choi, One Cool Pictures

When Robbers Meet The Monster (Dir Andrew Lau)

Louis Koo, Cheney Chen, Bao Bei Er and Zhou Dongyu star in this fantasy-action title, directed by Andrew Lau, whose credits include Revenge Of The Green Dragons and the Infernal Affairs series. Currently in post-production, the film revolves around a gang of bandits who plan to break into an official’s residence to take back what he has stolen from the people, only to be spied on by a mysterious monster.

Contact Fred Tsui, Media Asia

Yao yao ling

Source: We Distribution

Yao Yao Ling

Yao Yao Ling (working title) (Dir Sandra Ng)

Actress-comedian Sandra Ng makes her directorial debut with this $20m comedy, in which she also stars with a large ensemble cast, including Francis Ng, Alex Fong, Zhang Yi and Yue Yunpeng. Produced by Peter Ho-sun Chan, the film revolves around the tenants of a dilapidated multi-storey residence who haven’t stepped outside the building for years due to fears they will be locked out of their homes by ruthless property developers. When the building becomes haunted, they hire a ghostbuster to perform an exorcism. Currently in post-production, the film is scheduled for release on December 29.

Contact Alice Lin, We Distribution