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Domestic Films to Compete with Foreign Productions

2013-03-25 14:54:26        Global Times

A poster of Zhao Wei's "So Young." [Photo: douban]

Compared with March, the screen schedule at the multiplexes around China this April promises fiercer competition between the domestic and imported films. On the Western side, there will be Oscar winner Django Unchained, blockbuster Iron Man 3, and fantasy movies Jack the Giant Slayer and Oz the Great and Powerful. But the Chinese side also looks competitive, and today we will turn most of our attention to the domestic challengers.

Sweet romance

Even though there is no special festival for lovers in April, there are quite a number of homemade romances coming to theaters. Couples searching for a date movie can look forward to A Wedding Invitation due out on April 12, When a Wolf Falls in Love with a Sheep on April 19, and So Young, April 29.

For a very long time, tragic love stories from South Korea won a number of Chinese fans with works like Endless Love (2000) and TV drama Sorry, I Love You (2004). This time, under the direction South Korean director Oh Ki-hwan, audiences can wait to see whether A Wedding Invitation is as tear-provoking as its peers.

Oh may not be known to many Chinese moviegoers, but he has directed and produced many romantic movies in South Korea. Starring actress Bai Baihe, who rose to fame in the 2011 hit Love is not Blind, and Taiwan Golden Horse best actor winner Eddie Peng, A Wedding Invitation opens with a story that reflects the current Chinese society. Upon graduation, two lovers break up because one is not able to meet the material needs of the other. But they set up a contract - if both are still single after five years, they will marry each other.

In 2006, a song with the title "Lang Aishang Yang" (A Wolf Falls in Love with a Sheep) became known in almost every part of China. The song tells the bitter and moving love story about a couple, but the new movie When a Wolf Falls in Love with a Sheep seems to attract audience members with an easier and happier love journey. Light, pure love and a little humor are common elements in romantic movies from Taiwan, and this film is no exception.

So Young, adapted from a Web novel of the same name, is Zhao Wei's first movie as a director, and her graduation work for her master degree in direction at Beijing Film Academy. Zhao Wei is best known for her performance in the Princess Pearl TV series. Later she acted in movies such as Shaolin Soccer (2001) and Red Cliff (2008 and 2009). As a tribute to the youthful time of people in their 30s and late 20s, a major part of So Young is recalling the college life of four girls.

Gun fights

From Drug War (April 2), Colombiana (April 4), and Django Unchained (April 11) to Iron Man 3 (scheduled for general release in late April or early May), the whole month of April will welcome a string of action movies.

Unlike the usual situation in which action flicks come from the West, this time there are two domestic "shoot 'em up" films gaining attention as well - Drug War and Conspirators.

Jonny To's name is synonymous for action movies in the same way Quentin Tarantino is known for black humor and bloody violence. But as a Hong Kong director, this will be To's first attempt to deal with a story set in the mainland - Drug War, which is about how mainland police track down a group of drug dealers.

According to a report from New Express, To admitted that on some sensitive parts, he would shoot two versions, to make the later editing easier. But he also said that for Drug War to pass the censors at all is already a breakthrough, for the picture breaks new ground for mainland gangster movies.

And of this May, another detective movie of To, Blind Detective, will also hit the mainland.

Conspirators, by director Oxide Pang, is about a Thailand detective tracking down the murderer of his parents to Malaysia. Having cooperated with Thailand for many years, Pang is a master of horror and suspense, so it won't simply be filled with fight scenes.

As an Oscar winner, Django Unchained is already widely known. Violent, bloody and with a sense of humor, this first Tarantino movie to be screened in the Chinese mainland will definitely attract fans of the innovative director.

Facing such competition, the situation for Spanish action and crime drama Colombiana seems bleak: it suffers from a combination of a low rating, 6.2 out of 10, on imdb.com and features a less known director and actors.

Comedy vs. horror

Unlike the other categories, comedies and horror films only have two movies each for fans to select from: in the horror camp there is The House and The Incredible Truth; and in the comedy category we have The Chef, The Actor, The Scoundrel and Mr and Mrs Gamble.

Starring Ruby Lin, The House is about a web novelist's experiences in a house that is said to be haunted. The Incredible Truth, on the other hand, is based on an actual event - the 2011 tsunami in Japan that resulted in the release of radioactive water from a nuclear power plant.

At the end of 2012, Huang Bo was celebrating his top-grossing box-office win (Lost in Thailand) for the year and riding a wave of popularity that carried him into 2013. Well, that wave hasn't hit land yet: now another movie starring Huang is hitting theaters - The Chef, The Actor, The Scoundrel. Set against the background of Beijing during World War II, it's about how three unknowns get involved in a disease and national crisis.

Mr and Mrs Gambler is another Wong Jing comedy. Wong is known for his gambling-themed comedies such as God of Gamblers (1989), God of Gamblers 2 (1990) and God of Gamblers 3: The Early Stage (1996). But in recent years, his work has been criticized with some people saying that without stars like Stephen Chow and Chow Yun-Fat, Wong Jing's work is largely weakened.

In this new movie, Chapman To plays the lead role. Having cooperated with Wong in several comedies already, audiences will have to wait and see whether this new partner can brighten Wong's future.

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