Ordinarily, the summer cinema season in China is dominated by domestic films thanks to the authorities imposing a sweeping blackout on foreign imports.
This year, a big Hollywood production has slipped through the net in the form of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s potentially gravity-defying action flick Skyscraper, due to it being filmed in Hong Kong and backed by Legendary Pictures. But cinema screens will still mostly be showing “Made in China” fare, with everything from martial arts epics to stylish gangster flicks and CGI-heavy fantasy dramas on the schedules.
Here are some of the biggest releases that will be taking on Skyscraper at the Chinese box office in the coming weeks:
This 1930s-set adaptation of Zhang Beihai’s novel 侠隐 Xiayin (“The Hero“) is being touted as the third and likely final instalment in the gangster trilogy that began with 2010’s Let the Bullets Fly and continued with 2014’s Gone With the Bullets. That ought to mean some big action set-pieces and lavish sets to go with a cast led by director Jiang Wen and also featuring Eddie Peng.
Check out the slick trailer for Hidden Man here.
Making for the third part in another trilogy is the latest Detective Dee film from Hong Kong director Tsui Hark, who kicked off the series in 2010 and followed with a sequel in 2013. The films combine blistering wuxia (martial arts hero) action with whodunnit and super-sleuth story strands, plus plenty of CGIed “magic”.
Here’s a taste of the low-key, slow-burn story you can expect:
Coming in with a very strong poster game is this computer-animated mix of martial arts, mythical creatures, and slapstick comedy. The Wind Guardians is the first feature film spin-off from 画江湖 Hua Jianghu, a Mango TV series that’s been running since 2014. Hua Jianghu itself was launched in the wake of 侠岚 Xialan, an animated wuxia series that began in 2012.
Watch the trailer for The Wind Guardians here.
Speaking of strong poster games, bear with us here, but we feel like this is worth showcasing and scrolling through:
Right?! Fan “don’t mention the contracts” Bingbing and Kris Wu? Wait, and TFBoys?! Pass the popcorn.
Check out L.O.R.D‘s trailer here to see them all in action.
Back to something that’s not in the fantasy realm: Dying to Survive is based on the real-life story of a man who imported “illegal” but affordable cancer treatment pills from India after himself being diagnosed with cancer.
This is the fifth film from actor/director/producer duo Xu Zheng and Ning Hao, the former having made his name with Lost in Thailand, the latter with Incense and Mongolian Ping Pong. We’re expecting it to veer more toward snappy one-liners than careful ruminations on healthcare provision, but it could be interesting to see exactly how the film deals with some of the issues here. The trailer features brief scenes of protests over drug prices, for example, so maybe there will be more depth to this than some of the pair’s other films.
Update: We’re pleased to say we were wrong about this film. It’s actually a darkly comic but carefully-managed look at some serious issues. It does include an inevitable disclaimer (presumably necessary for the film’s release) at the end to cover the authorities’ backs on what is a sensitive issue, and ensures that the pharmaceutical giants are the real baddies, yet there are some sharp observations and clever imagery that make it one of the more surprising mainstream Chinese films we’ve seen at the cinema in some time.
Read more on the real life story that inspired the movie, and the issues that it raises, here:
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The cleverly-named House of the Rising Sons stars Taiwanese boyband GTM as a group of friends in ’70s Hong Kong who want to become rock ‘n’ roll stars, much to the dismay of their parents. It marks a return to the director’s chair for Anthony Chan, who was also the drummer in The Wynners 40-odd years ago, making this flick something of a band biopic.
You can bop along with the trailer here.
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