Just because China is a largely agnostic country doesn’t mean it doesn’t like its winter holidays, and while I doubt China celebrates Thanksgiving, around this time the streets in China are starting to get lined with Christmas decorations and it becomes a busy time for movies. This was actually a very weird year for the Chinese movie industry because of the Olympics, and much of the production activity was halted for China so I’m not sure how these movies would have been affected, but hopefully some of them will surprise me and hopefully some of them will live up to hype. Some of you may be wondering, am I actually on hiatus? I don’t know. I have a few more posts lined up though, so maybe not. :P
According to a Sina poll, these are the top 10 movies that people are looking forward to, which like I said, should be taken with a grain of salt, especially considering a movie that doesn’t even have a poster is in the top 3. I think people just saw the name and clicked. The results are probably also going to be in a state of flux. There were fifteen actually on the poll but I left out the last five because either 1) Like, Cape No. 7 it had already been out for a while in other regions, so people probably already saw it through illegal means and 2) I don’t care (Sorry Wu Jing…I’m sure your directoral debut is awesome, but not my thing). Ten’s a good number.
These are the numbers from Sina if you want to know.
And on to the movies…!
10. The Underdog Knight
Director: Ding Sheng (I believe this is his directorial debut, but he will be helming Jackie Chan’s “Small Soldiers/ Big General Small Soldier”)
Releases: November 28
Appeal: Liu Ye, arguably China’s best actor of his generation, added on 40 pounds of musle to play a violent version of Forest Gump in this movie. Added in the mix is Anthony Wong as the villain, and Hu Jun and one of my favorite actors Sun Honglei round out the cast to make it promising.
9. Ip Man
Directed by: Wilson Yip (Flash Point, Dragon Tiger Gate)
Releases: December 18th
Appeal: Donnie Yen being kickass as the teacher of Bruce Lee, Ip Man. I don’t know how appealing that is for the girls, but I can see the guys salivating already at the thought of this. From the trailer it looks every old school.
8. Women Are Not All Bad/ All About Women
Director: Tsui Hark (Zu Warriors, Peking Opera Blues, Once Upon a Time in China)
Releases: December 18th
Appeal: I thought this would be higher actually on SINA’s poll. Famed director Tsui Hark hasn’t given us anything really decent in recent years but maybe this could be it. It was supposed to be released in October, but it was pushed back towards the end of the holiday season because it was supposedly better than distributors expected. Given the looks of the trailer it seems reminicent of the older comedies of Hong Kong that were so good and that’s probably why this is my most anticipated movie for the holiday season. Also the cast is fantastic. There’s Zhou Xun, Guey Lun-mei and Kitty Zhang Yuqi in the lead roles. I don’t think the first two have ever disappointed me with their acting, and as for Zhang Yuqi, I think she’ll fit her role well. The male side boasts Alex Fong (who’s apparently hot now after starring in the popular Hunan TV series Dream Links), Stephen Fung, Eddie Peng (in glasses! for that reason alone I’d go) and a couple of other actors you may not know but are definitely eye-candy like Qi Ji.
7. Mei Lan Fang/ Forever Enthralled
Director: Chen Kaige (Yellow Earth, Farewell My Concubine, The Promise)
Releases: December 5th
Appeal: It’s China’s big artsy film of the year and possible redemption for Chen Kaige after his previous disaster The Promise. This should be better considering that the material more up his alley and that most directors bombed big when trying to tackle wuxia epics, but who knows? It stars Leon Lai and Zhang Ziyi, but no Gillian Cheung. Too bad because this could have been billed as “the first appearance of Gillian since the scandal” although that’s probably not what directors would like their movie to be known for.
6. Fit Lover (Call for Love 2)
Director: Zhang Jianya (Call for Love, Help)
Releases: November 28th
Appeal: 12 guys and 1 girl. Romance movie. Should draw all the women I’m sure when those guys include Huang Xiaoming, Lu Yi, Nie Yuan Alec Su, and Zhang Junning. Zhang Junning!!! Something magical apparently happens to Karena Lam’s car and she gets twelve chances at love, much like the movie that preceded this, Call For Love, although the main guy in that only 10 chances at love. Sucker. It’s also interesting to note that Zhang Junning tops the Sina poll, “Out of the twelve guys, who do you think is the best lover for Karena Lam?” showing just how skewed online polls are. He’s nowhere near as famous as the others. It’s probably all twelve year old girls (or twelve year olds at heart. Me!!) who are voting. The guys may be terrified of something like this, but the charismatic Karena Lam should be enough to appease them.
5. Witness/Beast Stalker
Director: Dante Lam (Tiramisu, Twins Effect, Sniper)
Releases: November 20, 2008
Appeal: There’s nothing extremely unique or exciting about this one, but it does have Nicholas Tse who is hot and Zhang Jinchu who is fastly rising as a leading lady in China. It’s also a cops and robbers action flick, which is what Hong Kong did best, and still does best out of all the Asian regions. Also, Dante Lam directed the first Asian movie that I watched by myself without my parents forcing me to watch it, Love on the Rocks, which started my interest in Asian entertainment in general. Not that the movie was actually good.
4. Desire of the Heart
Director: Ma Liwen (You and me)
Releases: November 20 2008
Appeal: The poster gives it away…comedic actor Ge You who eclipses all others in size. The other cast members may help draw people in, but they’re just filler. Not even an ugly version of Fan Bingbing is enough to draw people to the theaters like Ge You is. He’s just too popular, and it’s been a while since he’s been in a comedy (during the Banquet, people kept expecting him to say something funny).
3. All’s Well Ends Well 2009
Director: Vincent Fok (hasn’t really directed anything worth repeating here but he did have a small role in the first movie)
Releases: January 22, 2009 (subject to change)
Appeal: A movie following the same comedic tradition of the All’s Well Ends Well that starred Stephen Chow, Maggie Cheung, and Leslie Cheung, but only loosely related in plot (kind of like the Chinese Odyssey Movies). Only now it has Louis Koo. Downgrade of epic proportions, but Louis Koo does have the necessary self-deprecating charm for comedic roles and the looks. It also Sandra Ng, and Raymond Wong Bak-Ming who was in the first All’s Well Ends Well as one of the three brothers, the one not played by Stephen Chow or Leslie Cheung . While trying to find a poster for this…I discovered that he has a better body than many twenty year olds and probably a more pronounced six pack than Louis Koo. Wow. I’m not sure if that’s a selling point or TMI but it was certainly surprising. Congratulations Mr. Wong.
No trailer available, but you can check out boyband Wind and Cloud’s MV for it.
2. If You Are the One
Director: Feng Xiaogang (A World Without Thieves, The Banquet, The Assembly)
Releases: December 22
This movie had very, very little promotion up until now, with stills and a lackluster poster and trailer coming out only in recent weeks. But it’s Feng Xiaogang, China’s most popular director ever…the director who basically made the concept of New Years Holiday movie in China. He had been getting very dark lately with his films, starting from the satire Cellphone and ending with the Assembly which was a war drama. Those were mostly really good movies with the exception of The Banquet, but he got his fame through comedies, and he finally returns to that genre here. He teams up again with funnyman Ge You, his long time collaborator after not using him in The Assembly, so that’s probably the biggest reason people are going to check this out, although can they really take two Ge You movies at once? It also stars Shu Qi.
1. Battle of Red Cliff Part 2
Director: John Woo (you know, John Woo! Hard Boiled, Face Off, etc)
Releases: January 2009
Appeal: The first part has become the biggest Chinese box office draw in China, and is the highest grossing Asian film in Japan. I think the appeal here should be obvious with its cast and its story, the Three Kingdoms drama which is well known not just in China (see Dynasty Warriors). Then again I never watched the first part. One of my favorite characters as a child was Zhou Yu, the clever general whose downfall was trying to be better than Zhu Geliang, and I imagined him as a tall, suave-looking young man, and frankly I think Tony Leung is going to kill that image for me. Tony Leung is a good actor, but Hong Kong, please stop using him. I can’t take it anymore. He’s in everything and there are much hotter, probably just as good actors out there! Find them!