Deng Chao directs and stars in heartwarming new film Looking Up

I usually wouldn’t touch Deng Chao or Yu Baimei directed films (Devil & Angel, Master Healing) with a ten-foot pole, but the trailer for Looking Up 银河补习班 looks very promising. Deng Chao plays a father who deviates from the usual parenting style seen in Asian families, and instead encourages his son, played by Feng Ze’ang and later Bai Yu, to chase his dreams. The film is slated for a July 26th premiere in both China and North America.

White Snake: Origin picked up for North American release

White Snake: Origin is the first Chinese animated film since who knows when to be released with English dubs in North American theaters

In the best distribution deal for a Chinese animated film in a long time,    White Snake: Origin, has been picked up for North American distributor GKIDS.  The distributer has previously distributed Ponyo, The Breadwinner, Howl’s Moving Castle, and most recently The Secret World of Arrietty, and currently has distribution writes to all the Studio Ghibli films.  Both English-dubbed and Chinese-subbed versions of the  film is tentatively set for a fall release in North America.   Synopsis from GKIDS, with Madame White Snake’s English name being translated as Blanca:

From Light Chaser Animation, one of China’s premiere animation studios, comes a visually stunning new take on a classic legend. One day a young woman named Blanca is saved by Xuan, a snake catcher from a nearby village. She has lost her memory, and together they go on a journey to discover her real identity, developing deeper feelings for one another along the way. But as they learn more about her past, they uncover a darker plot of supernatural forces vying for power, with the fate of the world hanging in the balance. Conceived as a prequel to one of the most ancient and enduring stories in Chinese history, White Snake presents a sumptuous tale of trickster demons, deadly mythical beasts, assassins, wuxia action, and the promise of eternal love.

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Spirited Away posters from Zhou Dongyu, Jing Boran, Peng Yuchang

“Life is a train that goes in one direction.”

The voices of the Chinese dub of Spirited Away –  Zhou Dongyu, Jing Boran, Peng Yuchang, Wang Lin, and Tian Zhuangzhuang – posed for a set of posters inspired by their animated counterparts. The film will receive a belated wide release in theaters in China on the June 21st. FYI, it was previously available online/via DVD, not banned as some headlines seem to imply.

Artistic posters for the Chinese release of Spirited Away by Zao Dao and Huang Hai.

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Wu Jing takes a literal leap of faith in new trailer for The Climbers

The Climbers 攀登者 tells of the first successful Mt. Everest expedition by Chinese climbers. The star-studded cast includes Wu Jing, Zhang Ziyi, Zhang Yi, Jing Boran, Hu Ge, Wang Jingchun and Jackie Chan.

Directed by Daniel Lee (Time Raiders), the film is slated to premiere on September 30th.

Review: Urban Fantasy Hanson and the Beast is Men in Black meets chick flick

Millions of years ago, aliens, now known as  yaoguai or demons, landed on Earth. To blend in, they hide their animal forms by shapeshifting into humans. To make sure their secrets are hidden from the humans, the Bureau of Transformers was formed to monitor yaoguai actions in our world.     When young arctic fox demon Bai Qianchu (Liu Yifei) comes to the human world to repay an act of kindness and accidentally exposes her true form, she’s being chased after by the bureau’s agents.

Her object of interest is zookeeper and swindler Yuan Shuai (Feng Shaofeng), who saved her when he was a child.  When Bai Qianchu falls for Yuan Shuai, the two become caught at the center of a power struggle in the demon world between those who want to live apart from humans and those who want to cohabit the world with humans.

Urban fantasy film Hanson and the Beast takes the exciting concept of an alien registration agency and made a rom-com whose main feature is Liu Yifei being charming and beautiful. Luckily, it does that well enough if you like Liu Yifei.  Plus, unlike her last blockbuster,  the rest of the cast can actually act and the set-up is refreshing enough that you sit through it and enjoy Liu Yifei. A drama spinoff of the series starring Wang Ziwen and Chen He was released last week.

Liu Yifei as a fox pup

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Movie news round-up

Let’s face it, all we really want is a Wu Jing vs Jackie Chan fight.

  • Ma Li will star in buddy comedy written by Karen McCullah (Legally Blond, Ella Enchanted, She’s the Man) . Eva Jin (Sophie’s Revenge) will direct.  (Deadline)
  • The story centers on an unlikely pair of alpha females — Zoe, an American tech entrepreneur who relocates her company to China, and Maylin (Ma), a local female bodyguard who is hired to protect her. When Zoe’s life is threatened, the odd couple must put aside differences and join forces in order to survive.

  • Gong Li signed on to star as volleyball legend Lang Ping in upcoming film. (SCMP)
  • Hu Ge signed on to play coach and husband Jiang Shan in upcoming Li Na epic by Peter Chan. Poster below the cut. (Sina)
  • Avengers and I, Tonya star Sebastian Stan will star in 355, the spy-thriller starring Fan Bingbing, Jessica Chastain, Lupita Nyong’o and Penélope Cruz.  Marion Cortillard has dropped out due to personal reasons.  Filming is expected to begin in July (The Hollywood Reporter)

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Zhang Yimou’s Shadow gets North American release

Zhang Yimou’s Shadow 影 will  get a limited release in North America on May 3rd.  Starring Deng Chao, Sun Li, Zheng Kai, Guan Xiaotong, Wang Qianyuan, Hu Jun, and Wu Lei, the film is about a shadow or stand-in whose job is to be killed in place of his master.

With SHADOW, director Zhang Yimou (HERO, HOUSE OF FLYING DAGGERS) once again pushes the boundaries of wuxia action to create a film like no other, masterfully painting a canvas of inky blacks and greys punctuated with bursts of color from the blood of the defeated. In a kingdom ruled by a young and unpredictable king, the military commander has a secret weapon: a “shadow”, a look-alike who can fool both his enemies and the King himself. Now he must use this weapon in an intricate plan that will lead his people to victory in a war that the King does not want.

Below is the North American trailer. See list of theaters screening it here.

Chang Chen, Liao Fan, Ni Ni brace themselves for the storm in Savage

The film will be screened in the US and Canada on May 3rd.

Action revenge thriller Savage 雪暴 stars Liao Fan, Zhang Yicong and Huang Jue as a group of robbers who intend to steal a truckload of gold bars. Chang Chen and Li Guangjie play a pair of cops who happen to get in their way, and the latter is killed in the process. Ni Ni plays doctor Sun Yan, who somehow gets entangled in the mess. The film won the New Currents Award at its debut at the Busan International Film Festival.

The film will be screened in select theaters in the US and Canada on May 3rd. See locations here.

North American trailer

 

 

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NYC to host the CineCina Film Festival for Chinese art house films

Director Qingyi Lu brings her acclaimed documentary “Four Springs”, which had a budget of 1500 RMB but has a douban score of 8.9 with sixty thousand votes.

With a focus on Chinese art-house films,  the inaugural  CineCina Film Festival will take place from April 5th to 19th in 2019.  Twenty-two films, including a series of films by director Lou Ye ( Suzhou River, Blind Massage)  and recent favorites like Four Springs 四个春天 will be aired with many directors present for Q&A.

See the scheduled screenings here. I haven’t even heard of any of the films other than Four Springs and the Lou Ye ones, so I have no recommendations. Many of them sound super interesting, though.

Four Springs theme song by Chen Chusheng: