Sorry – the new site and forum is being fixed and worked out. We’ll make an announcement on this site when it is more complete.
In the meantime, here’s a list of modern day romance movies to look forward to in 2010, because these films are covered less than the ancient/wuxia/martial arts films by English-language media and yet, China has completely nose-dived into this genre in the past year. Cinema goers in China want the choice of light-hearted entertainment from the cinema, and the Chinese film industry is rapidly accommodating that niche in the market.
Last year, there was only a small selection – this year there’s much much more. With China’s total box office up 44% in 2009, and 1.65 cinema screens added per day, with no signs of slowly down, this should only be one sign to look forward to of the growing diversification of China’s rapidly rising film industry.
Heaven Eternal, Earth Everlasting – Directed by Li Fangfang/ Stars Liu Dong and Huang Ming.
I talked about it at length here. It looks like it has a great story, beautiful cinematography, and newbies for the leads, a refreshing thing in the film industry, an industry where investment is steep and needs solid market appeal to insure gaining back the money put it. I really hope this film succeeds in doing that.
Taipei Snow Fall – Directed by Huo Jianqi/ Stars Wilson Chen Bolin and Tong Yao.This is actually a rather spread out coproduction. Mainland China’s veteran director Huo Jianqi, who was making romance films back when China’s films were scarce and low budget (he directed A Time to Love with Lu Yi and Zhao Wei), helms this, while both China and Japan invests, the latter being involved so that this gets more promotion and coverage in the large Japanese film market. And in return for shooting it beautifully, the town where this is shot in Taiwan provided free accommodations. Tong Yao plays a famous singer who disappears from the spotlight after losing her voice, and finds Wilson Chen Bolin’s average guy. He falls in love with her, but she’s in love with someone else.
Lian Ai Bai -Directed by Li Gongyue (HK director, debut)/ Stars Chen Kun, Yuan Quan, Lu Yi and Debbie Goh.
This romantic comedy incidentally, also has in my opinion, the three actors in Chinese entertainment with the best singing voices. Such a waste that this wasn’t a musical. But with two talented leads, the film still deserves attention. The story centers around the love triangle between a divorced couple (Chen Kun and Yuan Quan) and their best friend (Lu Yi). More pictures and info here and here.
Yao Bai de Hun Yue
Directed by ?/Stars Yao Chen, Guo Xiaodong, Zhu Yuchen
It’s a workplace romantic comedy with “Cosmo” magazine as its backdrop (Cosmo China is also a sponsor). It has a pretty good cast, if not an eyecatchingly pretty one. It stars Yao Chen and Zhu Yuchen, both mainly tv actors who can definitely do comedic timing, but it remains to be seen how well they can do it here. This is probably on the lower budgeted end for this list, but at the same time, Chris Lee is set to sing its theme song, so it’s sure to have some widespread publicity when it comes out.
Wu Ren Jia Shi – Directed by Zhang Yang; Stars Gao Yuanyuan, Liu Ye, Li Xiaoran, Wang Luodan, Huang Xuan, Ruby Lin
This is the third time Gao Yuanyuan and Liu Ye have teamed up together. The first time was here in the short film XXX, the second was in the horrifying Nanking! Nanking! film, in which during its filming the director Lu Chuan hooked up with his actress Qin Lan, and somehow Gao Yuanyuan’s screentime magically decreased while his new girlfriend’s increased – making for a very poor detatched film that only depicts caricatures of people but is still somehow lauded in English-language reviews. Sorry – hopefully this new Liu Ye/Gao Yuanyuan collaboration doesn’t bring out the desire to rant each time I hear of it. The film is largely an ensemble piece depicting the lives and stories of various couples through their escapades while driving.
Du Lala’s Promotion -Directed by Xu Jinglei/ Stars Xu Jinglei and Stanley Huang, with a very tall supporting cast
A film about the iconic Chinese working woman, Du Lala, who will have been by the end of next year, been depicted on stage, film and tv. Xu Jinglei’s kind of old for this role about a woman working her way from the bottom to the top the corporate ladder ( in real life she’s already climbed to the top in the entertainment industry several times over) and romancing a filthy rich executive while she’s at it, but she looks quite pretty in the stills released, exuding confidence,and at least the costumes look nice. Unless Patricia Field decides to just slack off because this is Asia and it won’t affect her rep but so far it all looks good and Field looks heavily involved. Stanley Huang stars as the love interest, and the cast is rounded out by lots of other tall, leggy people.
Like a Dream – Directed by Clara Law/ Stars Daniel Wu and (Yolanda) Yuan Quan.
This was nominated for 9 nominations at the Golden Horse Awards, strange to begin with since at this point in time there is still no trailer for it, and won nothing. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t look like a very promising romance film however, with two good lead actors, and a very capable director at the helm. Both stars bring their past training (martial arts and opera) into play for the dancing scenes.
Hot Summer Days
Directed by Wing Shya (debut) / Stars everyone
Hua Yi/Fox financed blockbuster. So big it actually has a release date already – 2/12/2010 and a trailer. It’s basically what Chengdu I Love You should have looked like. It has five couples, Jacky Cheung with Rene Liu, Daniel Wu with Vivian Hsu, Nic Tse with Barbie Hsu, and Jing Boran with Fu Xinbo Angelababy. The big thing to note here, besides the Hua Yi tag, and the big names, is the fact that this is going to be acclaimed HK photographer Wing Shya’s directorial debut, which hopefully means the film will be beautiful like all his photos (google him, you won’t be disappointed).
Rest on Your Shoulder
Directed by Jacob Cheung (A Battle of Wits)/Stars Chen Kun and the ladies pictured
Stars Chen Kun, and an actress from HK, mainland, Taiwan respectively: Gigi Leung, Jiang Yiyan, and Kwai Lunmei. This an extremely talented cast, so despite the fact that the director is just average, it’s still one to look forward to. In particular I haven’t seen the woefully under appreciated Gigi Leung in anything good in ages, so hopefully this one is. The story, whose details have not been released, have been referred to a modern day take on the classic story of Butterfly Lovers, but with three different women who love and guide the lead played by Chen Kun. In real life, actresses started off the press conference announcement of the film by making fun of Chen Kun.
Some other non-action films to look forward to in 2010:
There’s several other films that are being tackled by capable directors. There’s other films but these are the ones whose directors I’m more familiar with.
Confucius – Directed by Hu Mei / Stars Chow Yun-fat and Zhou Xun
At first entirely skeptical of this movie, the previews won me over with their beautiful cinematography and understated feel. Hu Mei is becoming a first rate director; she is set to direct the upcoming film version of Dream of the Red Chamber.
Chongqing Sunlight – Directed by Wang Xiaoshuai/ Stars Fan Bingbing and Qin Hao
Yet another famous Chinese director with only limited funds has decided to ditch the indie route and go with something bigger-budgeted since the Chinese market size shot off like a rocket in a the past couple years. Usually the first try ends up a bit awkward, but we’ll see. I’m not sure about the story, but the cast is dependable, with Fan Bingbing having proven herself in Wheat, and hottie Qin Hao being a Wang Xiaoshuai regular.
Tangshan Earthquake (Aftershocks) – Directed by Feng Xiaogang / Stars Lu Yi and Zhang Jingchu
This film takes place in 1976, when China experienced the most devastating earthquake of the century by death count. Feng Xiaogang, China’s most famous commercial director, and one of the most dependable has taken on a deeply personal project, one perhaps deeply personal for all of China, since the pain of the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake is still fresh in everyone’s mind. Zhang Jingchu stars as a mother who has to make painful decisions. The film is coproduced by IMAX.
Let Bullets Fly – Directed by Jiang Wen / Stars Ge You, Chow Yun-fat, Hu Jun, Chen Kun, Carina Lau
Chinese Western ensemble.