The summer boxoffice period has been disappointing for Hong Kong productions. Although localfilms were starting to claw back market share earlier in the year, they've lostout whenever they've squared off against Hollywood's tentpole summer releases.But Hong Kong producers remain bullish in the long-term and several big-budgetprojects - aimed at the pan-regional market but with the potential to travelmuch further - are currently in production.
The most expensiveof these is The Myth, produced by andstarring Hong Kong superstar Jackie Chan, which is currently shooting in Chinaand India. Directed by Stanley Tong, the action adventure about atime-travelling archaeologist has a budget of around US$15m and also stars HongKong's Tony Leung Ka-fai, Bollywood actress Mallika Sherawat and Korean actressKim Hee-sun. It's the fourth production from Chan and Albert Yeung's JCE Moviesand arguably the most ambitious to date.
In the same budgetrange is Tsui Hark's next directing project, US$12m wuxia action title Seven Swords, set to star Leon Lai andCharlie Young (see separate story). In addition, the recently re-brandedEmperor Motion Picture Group is developing an as-yet-untitled US$8m-10m actionadventure, loosely based on the classical Chinese novel Journey To The West, which is scheduled to start shooting inOctober with Jeff Lau directing. Meanwhile, mainland director Chen Kaige isnearing the end of principal photography on fantasy historical epic The Promise, starring Hong Kong'sCecilia Cheung, Korea's Jang Dong-Kun and Japan's Hiroyuki Sanada.
Although thehistorical themes and top-notch pan-Asian casts are no doubt inspired by thesuccess of Zhang Yimou's Hero and House Of Flying Daggers, each of theseprojects promises to highlight a different element of Chinese martial artsfilmmaking. Chen's film, for example, has a strong fantasy component which willrequire around 10 months work on special effects. Tsui, however, has expresseda desire to get back to basics with SevenSwords, hence the hiring of old school kung-fu master Lau Kar-leung asaction director.
On a smaller scale,but also with strong international potential, some interesting horror films arecurrently emerging from Hong Kong. These include Fruit Chan's Dumplings, starring comedy queen MiriamYeung in her first serious if not downright disturbing role, which opened inHong Kong this week in a feature-length version but which will also be releasedas a short to form part of pan-Asian horror omnibus Three'Extremes.
Meanwhile,world-renowned horror-meisters the Pang Brothers have started shooting the nextinstalment in The Eye series - The Eye Infinity - in Hong Kong andThailand with a cast of young up-and-coming talents including Chen Bo-lin (Twins Effect II), Isabella Leong (Bug Me Not) and Kate Yeung (20:30:40). As with Chan's Dumplings, the film is produced byApplause Pictures with Fortissimo Film Sales handling international sales. Thebrothers will next move on to Universe Entertainment's Recycle, a US$5m horror film about a writer who discovers that wecan't escape the things we throw away. Lee Sin-je is set to star in the filmwhich cranks up in Thailand in November.
For full Hong Kong production listings, click HERE