Chen Kaige directs original Peking Opera-themed short

Farewell, My Concubine takes center stage once more in a Chen Kaige film as a group of young actors face difficult choices before a scheduled performance of the classic piece.

Director Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine, Forever Enthralled) returns to the Peking Opera troupe for inspirations in this stylized short film directed and written by him for variety show Attention Actors 演员请就位. Zhao Wenhao (Sacrifice) puts on imo the best performance of the show as a disgruntled former actor who fulfills his dream of acting as the hero Xiang Yu on stage by channeling him in real life to protect his beloved. The film co-stars Huang Yao (The Crossing) and Yu Xiaotong (Dream of the Red Chambers).

Watch the skit on Youtube below (should start at 2:03:43):


Upcoming comedy Lost in Russia releases teaser

Lost in Russia 囧妈 is the third of Xu Zheng’s “Lost in…” film series, and will focus on the relationship between mothers and their children on a train trip to Russia. Yuan Quan (The Captain), Shen Teng (Crazy Alien) costar. The film will premiere on Chinese New Year’s Day 2020.

I feel like watching just for the two actresses playing Shen Teng’s mum and grandmother.

Gong Li’s volleyball biopic releases first teaser

Here’s our first look at Gong Li as legendary player and coach Lang Ping in Chinese Women’s Volleyball 中国女排 (lit.), an upcoming sports film directed by Peter Chan (Dearest, American Dreams in China). Wu Gang (The Thunder) and Huang Bo (Crazy Alien) costar as the coaches that led the team to victory at the 1984 and 2004 Olympics respectively. The film is scheduled for a 2020 Chinese New Year release.

Q&A with writer of Ne Zha, director of White Snake this weekend in LA

“Everything the light touches will be your kingdom.”

As a part of the Animation is Film festival, White Snake co-director Zhao Ji and Ne Zha co-writer Yi Qian will be doing Q&A’s this weekend in LA. Yi Qian is also the CEO of Coloroom, the rising animation powerhouse that’s also behind Monkey King : Hero’s Back and Big Fish & Begonia.

Hong Kong-based director Yonfan will also be there for a Q&A on film No. 7 Cherry Lane, while Zhou Shengwei’s innovative stop-motion picture SHe will make its US premiere.

More info here. Tickets are still available for all four screenings as of this post’s publishing.

Trailer for No. 7 Cherry Lane:


Li Fangfang announces two films, could be the first female director of a major wuxia film in forty years

Sword 剑来 would be the first wuxia by a female director in over forty years.

Since Ann Hui’s 1987 adaptation of The Book and the Sword, no female director has tackled the genre of wuxia for a major film (unless you count Kung Fu Panda 2). Li Fangfang, who first won the prestigious Golden Eagle Award for a script she wrote in high school, is not afraid to try.

Earlier this year, director Li Fangfang (Forever Young, Heaven Eternal Earth Everlasting) and the guiding light to my soul announced the two projects she’s currently working on – ancient drama Sage 士 and wuxia Sword 剑来 (rough English translation of titles by me). Although, given how it took six years for her last film took to screen, it might be many years before we see either film.

Based on the book of the same name by Feng Huo Xi Zhu Hou 烽火戏诸侯, Sword is set in a world of philosphical battle, where the four main groups – the Confucians, the Taoists, the Buddhists, and the yao 妖 – fight with each other to build their visions of utopian societies. Swords are but tools used to build realms based on one’s ideological pursuit, and kingdoms rise and fall based on the guiding principles of the rulers.


Chinese dubs of Abominable available in all 4000+ U.S. theaters

I already wrote a post about the film, but I tested the dubbing app out and it was too cool to not have its own post.

Abominable , a collaboration between Dreamworks and Shanghai-based Pearl Studio, is the first animated film available with Chinese dubs across all 4000+ U.S. theater locations through the app Theater Ears. The film is also the first animated film with wide releases worldwide featuring a modern Chinese setting as well as the first major animated film directed, produced, and written by women.

The dubbing for the film in Chinese is done by Zhang Zifeng, Arthur Chen Feiyu, Wan Qian and Cai Ming. The film includes music by Angela Chang (below) and Wang Sulong. Coldplay’s Fix U is the only song that plays in both languages. If you are fairly well-versed in Chinese pop culture, I highly recommend the Chinese dubs as I think it has more jokes and a stronger emotional message. The only main thing you might be missing out is that the English dubs by Chloe Bennet and Tenzing Norgay Trainor had ridiculous romantic chemistry, while the Chinese dubs felt more like brother-sister.


National Day Film Round-Up

Abominable is the first animated film available with Chinese dubs across all theaters in the U.S.

The themes of this National Day week-long break are unsurprisingly patriotism and surprisingly Mount Everest. Here’s the slate of films trying to beat Ne Zha and The Wandering Earth‘s record-breaking numbers this year. All four are available in limited theaters in the U.S. and Canada (and probably New Zealand and Australia).

Abominable, the love letter to Chinese scenery that’s the first film from Pearl Studio, a venture between DreamWorks Animation, China Media Capital, and the Shanghai Media Group. I’ve seen it in English and definitely recommend it. The main characters are very shippable in an Asian drama way, and the imagery is super imaginative.

Note that if you’re in the U.S., you can watch the film with Chinese dubs in theaters by using the Theater Ears app.
Voice actors: Chloe Bennet, Albert Tsai, Tenzing Norgay Trainor in English; Zhang Zifeng, Arthur Chen Feiyu, Wan Qian, Cai Qin in Chinese