The two Chinese blockbusters Let the Bullets Fly and If You Are the One 2 making over 400 million yuan ($60.40 million) at the box office last week is a boost for the film market as a whole. Though the going may not be as good as in December in terms of blockbusters, local filmmakers have high expectations of the film market in January.
A poster of Shaolin.
Though there is no phenomenal movie like Avatar as at the same time last year, imported films like Tron: Legacy and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader are still likely to perform well in box office. However, domestic productions Shaolin, Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf and My Own Swordsman are the three films expected to grab major attention.
Shaolin, set for release on January 19, is already creating a buzz. The movie, with its all-star cast of Jackie Chan, Andy Lau, Nicholas Tse and Fan Bingbing and theme of the Shaolin Temple and martial arts, is awaited with much anticipation by cinema lovers.
Set in the 1920s wartime in China, it tells the story of a man (Lau) who has been betrayed by friends and lost his wife and son, eventually converting to Buddhism and protecting the Shaolin Temple and its culture.
With a theme similar to The Shaolin Temple (1982) starring Jet Li, there are doubts about Shaolin's originality. "The Shaolin Temple (1982) is too well-established in Chinese people's hearts. Therefore, we have created a brand new story which has nothing to do with the 1982 version," explained the film's director Benny Chan.
According to Chan, Shi Yongxin, the current abbot of the Shaolin Temple has granted the team the copyright for using the Shaolin Temple in the film and offered help as an advisor for the film. The crew spent 20 million yuan ($3.02 million) to replicate the actual size of the Shaolin Temple for a realistic mise-en-scene.
"The Shaolin culture is the essence of Chinese culture, which we should introduce to more people," said Jackie Chan at Tuesday's press conference. "We shouldn't make films like 3D Spiderman or Batman, but good kungfu films which we are good at," the action star added.
As 2011 is the year of the rabbit, the film, opening on January 21, has changed its storyline to fill it with the rabbit element. The goats and wolves come into a magic world of sweets, chocolates and puddings. Faced with the invasion of the devil army of bitter melons, they again work as one to fight for victory.
Adapted from the TV comedy series of the same name made six years ago, the martial arts film My Own Swordsman is certain to be well received by its established TV fan base.
Releasing in movie halls nationwide on January 26, the film has retained the same production team and cast as the original television serial.
My Own Swordsman continues its humor with a focus on social issues like the goings-on in the real estate industry. "This is an updated version of the TV series. It is a film this time. Of course, it has better cinematography, the actors are more experienced and the script is a hot social issue that people are concerned with. It is not a copy of the TV series," Shang Jing, director of the film, told the Global Times.
According to Han Sanping, chairman of China Film Group, the 10 billion yuan ($1.50 billion) annual box-office revenue goal has been met in 2010. The annual box-office target set for 2011 is 13 billion yuan ($1.96 billion).
"January is an important month for the box-office. Last year Avatar made a good start in January, which contributed 1.3 billion yuan ($195.39 million) to the year's target of 10 billion yuan goal. A good start is essential for the annual box-office goal," film critic Hu Liang told the Global Times.