Despite dipping box office and a censorship process slowing up the production pipeline, there are some knockout titles to get excited about for Chinese New Year.


Source: Wanda Pictures


Mainland China’s film industry is going through a turbulent period. Despite the success of Bona Film Group’s Project Gutenberg, which grossed nearly $160m over the National Day holidays, box office was on a downward trend in October 2018 compared to the previous year. In addition, the censorship process has slowed following the Chinese authorities’ overhaul of their regulatory infrastructure and the government’s recent request that talent and production companies pay their back taxes has sent the industry into a spin.

As a result, production is expected to slow down in the last quarter of this year, which could result in a shortage of big titles in the second half of 2019, but there is still a large volume of films in production and post-production that are on offer at AFM. Big titles scheduled for release before the end of the year include Wanda Pictures’ fantasy drama Airpocalypse and Huayi Brothers’ action adventure Mojin: The Worm Valley.

Although it is still early days for scheduling, films jostling for release during the peak Chinese New Year holiday period in February 2019 include Mega-Vision Project Workshop’s Enter The Fat Dragon, starring Donnie Yen; Emperor Motion Pictures’ Integrity, directed by Alan Mak and starring Sean Lau and Nick Cheung; and Jackie Chan’s The Knight Of Shadows: Between Yin And Yang.

Airpocalypse - dir Xiao Yang
Xiao Yang is directing and heading the cast of this fantasy drama, about four gods who are relegated to living on Earth and create an environmental catastrophe in their attempts to get back into heaven. Jennifer Du and Xiao Shenyang also star in the film, which is scheduled for release on December 21. Xiao previously directed Old Boys: Way Of The Dragon and stars in both of the hit Detective Chinatown films.
Contact: Wen Mengchen, Wanda Pictures

Anita - dir Longman Leung
Currently in production, this long-awaited biopic of Anita Mui stars model Louise Wong, making her acting debut, as the hugely popular singer and actress who died in 2003 aged just 40. Produced by Edko Films and Irresistible Films, the drama also stars Terrance Lau and is due for release next year. Director Leung is co-director of hit action dramas Cold War and Cold War 2 with Sunny Luk.
Contact: Julian Chiu, Edko Films

Bodies At Rest - dir Renny Harlin
Nick Cheung, Richie Jen and Yang Zi head the cast of Renny Harlin’s Chinese-language action thriller, which is in post-production for release in April 2019. Scripted by David Lesser, the film follows a group of masked thugs who break into a morgue demanding access to a body that contains evidence of a crime they committed. Wanda Pictures and Media Asia co-produce, with the latter also handling international sales.
Contact: Fred Tsui, Media Asia

Chasing The Dragon II: Master Of Ransom - dirs Wong Jing, Jason Kwan
In post-production, the second instalment in Wong Jing’s Chasing The Dragon series is based on a real-life spate of kidnappings that terrorised Hong Kong’s elite in the 1990s. Tony Leung Ka-fai plays the kidnap king, while Louis Koo is the undercover agent who infiltrates his gang. Wong and Kwan also co-directed Chasing The Dragon, based on the true story of drug dealer Ng Sek-ho, which was a hit in Hong Kong and China last year.
Contact: Angela Wong, Mega-Vision Project Workshop

A City Called Macau - dir Li Shaohong
Fifth Generation filmmaker Li Shaohong (The Door, Stolen Life) directs this Macau-set romantic drama from a script by Yan Geling (Youth). Bai Baihe, Huang Jue and Wu Gang head the cast of the film about a woman working as a VIP client servicing manager at a casino, who falls for a charismatic gambler. Produced by Bona Film Group, the film is currently in post-production.
Contact: June Wu, Distribution Workshop

Enter The Fat Dragon - dir Kenji Tanigaki
Donnie Yen and Wong Jing both produce and star in this action title about an overweight cop with emotional issues who is tasked with escorting a convict to Japan. Scheduled for release over the Chinese New Year holidays in February 2019, the film is directed by renowned action choreographer Kenji Tanigaki, whose credits include The Monkey King and Japanese manga adaptation Rurouni Kenshin.
Contact: Angela Wong, Mega-Vision Project Workshop

Hotel Soul Good - dir Anthony Yan Pak-wing
Produced by Hong Kong’s Plus One Motion Pictures, this romantic comedy features an ensemble cast of Hong Kong talents including Chrissie Chau (29+1), Louis Cheung (Zombiology: Enjoy Yourself Tonight), Eric Kot (Fantasia), Maggie Shiu (PTU) and Richard Ng (Vampire Cleanup Department). Chau plays an executive in the hospitality industry who opens a new hotel when she loses her job and boyfriend after a meteor shower enables her to see dead people. The film was released in Hong Kong on October 18.
Contact: Tiffin Shing, Golden Dragon Pictures

Integrity - dir Alan Mak
Director Alan Mak and producers Felix Chong and Ronald Wong, who worked together on the Overheard trilogy, are reteaming on this crime thriller, which is in post-production for tentative release over Chinese New Year 2019. The story follows a leading anti-corruption agent who is forced to team up with his ex-wife to salvage an investigation in which both the defendant and the whistleblower have disappeared. Sean Lau, Nick Cheung and Karena Lam head the cast.
Contact: Raymond Liu, Emperor Motion Pictures

Invincible Dragon - dir Fruit Chan
Max Zhang (Ip Man 3) and mixed martial-arts expert Anderson Silva star in Fruit Chan’s $12m action film about an undercover agent who helps the police solve mysterious cases, but clashes with a Macau detective and a US army veteran with a secret link to his past. Scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2019, the film also features behind-the-scenes talent such as DoP Cheng Siu Keung (Election) and action director Stephen Tung Wei (Operation Mekong).
Contact: Kat Yeung, Mandarin Motion Pictures

Ip Man 4 - dir Wilson Yip
The fourth instalment in producer Raymond Wong’s blockbuster Ip Man franchise will again star Donnie Yen as the eponymous hero, along with Chan Kwok Kwan, Vanness Wu and Scott Adkins. In post-production, the $52m film follows the eponymous kung-fu master to the US where his student Bruce Lee has upset the local martial-arts community by opening a Wing Chun school. Yuen Wo Ping is again on board as action director.
Contact: Kat Yeung, Mandarin Motion Pictures

The Knight Of Shadows: Between Yin And Yang - dir Vash
Jackie Chan stars as a demon hunter defending humanity from an inhuman invasion in this period action comedy, which also stars Ethan Juan, Elane Zhong and Lin Peng. When a mysterious force starts kidnapping village girls to feast on their souls, Chan’s character encounters another demon hunter who is not fully human. In post-production for release during Chinese New Year 2019, the film is produced by Kiefer Liu (The Monkey King series) and backed by iQiyi Pictures, Beijing Sparkle Roll Media and Golden Shore Films & Television.
Contact: Tiffin Shing, Golden Network Asia

Last Letter - dir Shunji Iwai
Japanese director Shunji Iwai’s first foray into Chinese-language cinema is produced by Peter Ho-sun Chan’s We Pictures and stars Zhou Xun, Qin Hao, Du Jiang and Wu Yanshu. Exploring similar themes to Iwai’s 1995 drama Love Letter, the film is a romantic drama revolving around two generations of characters and a series of letters that fall into the wrong hands. Chinese release is scheduled for November 9. Japan’s Toho is producing a Japanese-language version, also directed by Iwai, which is due to start production next summer.
Contact: Andree Sham, We Distribution

A Lifetime Treasure - dirs Mak Kai Kwong, Andrew Lam Man Chung
Produced by Teddy Robin, this comedy is set in an old people’s home where the peace of an eccentric group of retirees is about to be shattered by a gangster out for revenge. Co-director Lam plays the retired doctor who runs the home, while the cast also includes Robin, Ivana Wong (Golden Chickens), Sammo Hung (My Beloved Bodyguard), Lam Suet (Trivisa) and Louis Cheung (Keeper Of Darkness). The film is in production for release over Chinese New Year 2019.
Contact: Grace Chan, Entertaining Power Co

Limbo - dir Soi Cheang
Produced by Wilson Yip and Paco Wong, this $16m action drama stars Lam Ka Tung as a veteran detective and Mason Lee as a rookie cop, both on the trail of a serial killer. Cya Liu plays a woman who volunteers to work on the case as penance for killing the detective’s wife and child in an accident, although her embittered colleague can’t forgive her. The film is backed by Sun Entertainment Culture, Er Dong Pictures, Bona Film Group and Sil-Metropole Organization, and is in post-production.
Contact: Chiu Yi Leung, Bravos Pictures

Li Na - dir Peter Ho-sun Chan
Chan’s highly anticipated biopic of mainland Chinese tennis champion Li Na is currently shooting in Wuhan for a tentative late 2019 or early 2020 release. The film is produced by Jojo Hui Yuet-chun and scripted by Zhang Ji, who also wrote Chan’s Dearest and American Dreams In China. The identity of the actress playing Li — who has been in training for two years in order to realistically portray Asia’s first Grand Slam singles champion — is being kept under wraps.
Contact: Andree Sham, We Distribution

Lost, Found - dir Lu Yue
Yao Chen and Ma Yili star in this drama about a woman locked in a bitter custody battle with her ex-husband, whose daughter is kidnapped by the seemingly helpful nanny. A renowned cinematographer, Lu also has directing credits including Locarno Golden Leopard winner Mr Zhao (1998) and Thirteen Princess Trees (2006), which won a special jury prize at Tokyo International Film Festival. Lost, Found premiered at Shanghai International Film Festival and is currently on release in mainland China, where it has grossed more than $30m.
Contact: Celia Hao, Huayi Brothers

Mojin: The Worm Valley - dir Fei Xing
Enlight Media is producing two $40m action adventure films based on the popular Ghost Blows Out The Light series of online novels: Mojin: The Worm Valley, which is in post-production for release before the end of the year, and Mojin: The Dragon Ridge, scheduled for release in 2019. Both films are directed by Fei Xing (Silent Witness) and star newcomers Cai Heng, Yu Heng, Gu Xuan and Chen Yusi. Huayi Brothers is distributing in China and handling international sales.
Contact: Celia Hao, Huayi Brothers

Reborn - dir Li Hai Long
Han Geng, Rhydian Vaughan, Li Yuan and Japan’s Tomohisa Yamashita star in this thriller about a geeky programmer who is forced to become an undercover agent when he is dragged into a dangerous cyber game. Produced by Andre Morgan and Zoe Chen, the film has Nick Powell (Resident Evil: Retribution) on board as action director.
Contact: Chiu Yi Leung, Bravos Pictures

The Rookies - dir Alan Yuen
Produced by China’s New Classics Media and Hong Kong’s Emperor Motion Pictures, this action adventure from Firestorm director Alan Yuen filmed in China and Hungary with a cast including Wang Talu (Our Times), Sandrine Pinna (Legend Of The Demon Cat) and Milla Jovovich (Resident Evil series). The story follows an extreme sports enthusiast, a bumbling cop and her best friend who are dragged into the world of international espionage and tasked with preventing a terrorist mastermind from using weapons of mass destruction.
Contact: Raymond Liu, Emperor Motion Pictures

Shock Wave 2 (working title) - dir Herman Yau
Andy Lau and director Herman Yau are reteaming on a sequel to their hit action drama Shock Wave, which grossed $63m in mainland China last year. The sequel, which features completely new characters in a related story, revolves around a bomb disposal officer who is injured in a blast and then named as a suspect in a terrorist bombing. Currently in pre-production, the film is scheduled to start shooting early next year.
Contact: Mia Sin, Universe Films Distribution

Silence Of Smoke - dir Yojiro Takita
Best known as the director of Oscar-winning drama Departures, Japanese filmmaker Yojiro Takita is making his Chinese-language debut with this drama, co-produced by Media Asia and Magilm Pictures, which is currently shooting. Han Geng (So Young), Zhang Guoli (Back To 1942) and Summer Xu (Mr Six) head the cast of the film about a young cakemaker who takes over the family business but finds he can’t replicate his father’s success.
Contact: Fred Tsui, Media Asia

Unleashed - dirs Kwok Ka Hei, Ambrose Kwok
Produced by Paco Wong, this drama follows an underground boxer and his vendetta with a former champion, who has recently been released from prison and is attempting to destroy his mentor’s boxing studio. In pre-production, the film has Chris Collins on board as action director and is set to star Ken Low (Paradox), Sun Zhen Feng, Zheng Zi Ping, Venus Wong and Fire Lee.
Contact: Grace Chan, Entertaining Power Co

The Whistleblower - dir Xue Xiaolu
The director and star behind romantic comedy hit Finding Mr Right, Xue Xiaolu and Tang Wei, reunite for this China-Australia co-production, which is produced by Perfect Village Entertainment, Bill Kong’s Edko Films and Beijing Carving Films. Currently in post-production, The Whistleblower also stars Lei Jiayin (Guns And Roses) as a Chinese ex-pat in Australia who discovers a conspiracy at the company where he works.
Contact: Julian Chiu, Edko Films

The White Storm 2: Drug Lords (working title) - dir Herman Yau
Following their collaboration on Shock Wave, director Herman Yau and actor/producer Andy Lau are reteaming on a sequel to Benny Chan’s 2013 action drama The White Storm. In post-production, the $25m film also stars Louis Koo, who starred in the original, Michael Miu, Karena Lam and Cherrie Ying. The story again revolves around cops battling drug dealers in the Hong Kong underworld.
Contact: Mia Sin, Universe Films Distribution