Donnie Yen kicks ass in Daniel Lee´s new martial arts flick.
Can we ever get enough of kung fu movies? We don’t think so, and are therefore thankful to the Chinese movie industry for offering us its never ending stream of beautifully set fighting epics. This time, we´ll cuddle up in the cinemas to 14 Blades,(锦衣卫) a 14th century Ming-era martial arts movie from director Daniel Lee starring Donnie Yen and Vicki Zhao.
The movie will be the first pairing of Donnie Yen with the director of Black Mask, Dragon Squad and Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon.
This martial arts epic stars certified Kung Fu badass Donnie Yen in the role of Qinglong, or Green Dragon. He is the best of the so called Jinyiwei, an imperial elite force of assassins recruited from street orphans. Jinyiwei were masters of the 14 Blades, eight being for torture, five for killing, and the last blade being reserved for suicide when a mission failed. When the emperor is kidnapped and the court taken over, Qinglong takes on the mission of restoring the emperor to power.
Apart from starring Chun Wu, “the hottest teen idol in Asia”, we will also see Zhao Wei (Vicki Zhao), who must have had a quite busy year, playing the role of Mulan, starring in both The Foundation of a Republic and John Woo’s Red Cliff: Part II, as well as recording 30 episodes of Chinese TV drama An Epic of a Woman (Yi ge nü ren de shi shi). In 14 Blades her role is called Qiaohua, a daughter of a safe house proprietor who “nurses the wounded Qinglong (Donnie Yen) back to health reluctantly”.
Some netizens have suggested that the movie is in fact a remake of a 1984 Shaw Brothers film called Secret Service Of The Imperial Court (Gam yee wai). This due to their striking similarities:
Both are set during the late Ming Dynasty and center on an elite team of highly trained warriors loyal to the emperor. Both feature a power-hungry eunuch who has wrested control of the government from the weakened emperor and taken over the elite band of warriors for use in ridding himself of imperial loyalists. Both films have an elite team member who has remained loyal to the emperor and becomes a fugitive forced to fight his former comrades in order to protect the empire.
The film, budgeted at $20 million, is produced by Three Kingdoms producer Susanna Tsang through her Hong Kong-based Visualizer Film Prods. and mainland China’s Shanghai Film Group. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Tsang said, “14 Blades is really the first James Bond film from China and is based on historical fact. Audiences from China and abroad have never seen this type of Chinese movie before.”
But, during the press conference, Yen showed a much humbler attitude regarding his status as China’s current number one martial arts star:
I never thought I´d be called the “King of King Fu” said Yen. Every actor has their own style. Each actor who has been performing for many years makes their own contributions. It´s luck that some people like my films.
Daniel Lee has promised a full hour´s worth of fighting action while Yen promised the film has more to offer than just kung fu. Visit the movie´s official website, or, if you wish to check out a handful of different trailer versions, go to Kung Fu Cinema. Eager to make a cinema night out of it? Here´s some info on where in Shanghai it´s being screened.
Check out what other movies are showing in Shanghai this coming week. Links lead to info about times and venues.
- Dinner and A Movie” Night!: On Saturday Shanghai Loft hosts “Dinner and A Movie” Night! arranged by Shanghai Independent Filmakers Association. Join in for two locally-made shorts by Asian producers. First out is “Shanghai Bund-Green Dragon Gang” by directors Wang Luping and Wang Hongjun – a martial arts romp featuring a crew of talented stuntmen that worked on films including John Woo´s “Red Cliff”. Secondly the night offers “Gurudev – A Journey to the East” by director Bivash Mukherjee – a documentary about Nobel prize-winning author, poet and scholar Gurudev Rabindath Tagore. Discussion with producers to follow.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE MOVIES
- Coffee and Cigarettes: On Thursday Vienna Café presents Coffee and Cigarettes, a 2003 film that consists of 11 short stories which share coffee and cigarettes as a common thread. Like it or not, from March this year, Shanghai is going to practice Smoking Ban in cafés and restaurants. So let´s say goodbye to the café inhaling by watching a movie on the topic, while maybe also taking that last sip and puff. Soon, you won’t be able to do that in Shanghai’s cafes and restaurants. Directed by Jim Jarmusch, starring Roberto Benigni, Steven Wright, Joie Lee, Cinque Lee, Steve Bscemi and many more. English and French with Chinese subtitles.
- Prayers for Bobby (为鲍比的祈祷): On Sunday Cinema of Truth shows this true story of Mary Griffith (Sigourney Weaver), a gay rights crusader whose teenage son committed suicide due to her religious intolerance. Bobby Griffith hails from a devoutly Christian family. Lately Bobby’s been questioning his own sexuality, and upon confiding this information to his older brother, the news quickly circulates to their parents and other siblings. While Bobby’s father and siblings resolve to stand by him despite their opposition to his startling revelation, his mother Mary believes that her son is committing a sin, and encourages him to change his ways with the help of the church…
- Avatar: (阿凡达): James Cameron is back with this super expensive sci-fi thriller in 3D. Follow ex-marine Jack (Sam Worthington) as he explores planet Pandora as an avatar; a human mind in an alien body. On this paradise-like planet, he faces hostilities from exotic life forms and falls in love with a female alien. This movie used ground-breaking techniques and is being shown in 3-D. In English or Chinese depending on the cinema.
- The Spy Next Door (邻家特工): Seasoned secret agent Bob Ho has lived through a number of impossible missions, but he soon realizes that watching his girlfriend´s three kids will be his toughest task yet. Featuring Jackie Chan as the undercover babysitter, the film shows you how complicated babysitting can be, even for a skillful spy. Language TBA.
CHINESE LANGUAGE MOVIES
- Searching for Wei Chen (寻找微尘): The daughter of a rural woman drops out of university after her mother falls sick. Despite rising medical treatment costs, she insists on returning her now not to be used scholarship money and heads to Qingdao to find her benefactor, “Wei Chen.” A radio host helps her look for “Wei Chen” and the search prompts many a touching story.
- Armored Warriors of the Emperor Xia (铠甲勇士之帝皇侠): China’s answer to Ultraman/Power Rangers, Armored Warriors of the Emperor Xia is the movie adaptation of popular Chinese childrens television series Armor Warriors. The story tells how warriors of the earth, wearing elemental protective armor combine to make the legendary Xia emperor and fight of a powerful devil. The movie uses 3D effects and CGI and stars popular Taiwan idol Danson Tang.
- The Story of Hong Mao Lan Tu Huo Feng Huang (虹猫蓝兔火凤凰): The cartoon has a fan base of millions because of its TV version and tells of the adventures of a blue rabbit and a red cat.
- Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf (喜羊羊与灰太狼之虎虎生威): This movie is from the same title Chinese Animated Television series which tell stories of bouts between Family Sheep and descendants of wolf on the grassland. This time, the story happens in the world of snail. There is a serious bale coming to snails. The biological warfare happens between two of bacterial kingdoms, “Black Null” and “White Null”, who exist on antennae of snails. The White Null Kingdom recruits all military force around the country to perish the black-hearted Black Null Kingdom. Sheep Xiyangyang sides with White Null Kingdom, and Wolf Huitailang is siding for the opposite.
- Fa Dian Zhi Mi Zhi Hai Di Tao Fa (海底淘法): An animated drama with the aim to teach kids about the law: In W Kingdom, the young prince, who only enjoys travelling is punished by the king to travel to the bottom of the sea with the Corpus Juris, the book of the kingdom’s criminal law. However, upon passing to the hands of the prince, the book turns to a pile of blank paper. Each time when someone committed a crime, the prince has to correctly identify the accusation, to let the book reveal the writing…This is the first of four law educational animations targeted at children, with endorsement from the Chinese Supreme Court. Directed by: HU Mei.
- Confucius (孔子): Learn more about the respected Chinese thinker in this film. Directed by Hu Mei, China´s fifth-generation director, the film features Chow Yun-fat as Confucius. The plot depicts the latter half of Confucius´ life, from when he takes up the chancellor position of his home Kingdom until his death. Zhou Xun stars as the beauty Nan Zi in this high-budget . Mandarin only or in Mandarin with English subtitles depending on the cinema.
- Detective Conan: The Raven Chaser (名侦探柯南：漆黑的追踪者): The 13th episode in the Japanese movie franchise starring Japanese detective Conan finally comes to Shanghai. This 2009 anime film follows the prodigious young detective as he solves a serial murder case in Japan. Six people are killed and Mahjong tiles are left next to each victim as a strange clue. Dubbed in Mandarin or in Japanese with Chinese subtitles, depending on the cinema.
- Bodyguards and Assassins (十月圍城): This historical drama features an all-star cast, including action star Donnie Yen and Fan Bingbing. It also happens to mark the screen debut of Super Girl Li Yuchun. Set in the early 20th century in Hong Kong, the plot follows a group of revolutionaries fighting against the British and Qing government to protect Republic of China founder, Sun Yet-san. Director Teddy Chan is reported to have spent almost 10 years masterminding this flick. In Cantonese or Mandarin depending on the cinema.
- The Treasure Hunter (刺陵): In a northwestern desert where countless prosperous dynasties rose and fell, there is rumored to be buried a treasure of unbelievable wealth. Jay Chou and Lin Chi Ling embark on a quest to protect the ancient treasure from an international crime group. They are supported by renowned mainland actor Chen Daoming, young actress Miao Pu and Hong Kong veteran Eric Tsing.
- Park Shanghai: Local director Huang Kai’s debut film explores China’s post ’80s generation. The romantic drama follows former lovebirds Dong and Rerei as they meet again at their high school reunion years after graduation. Huang Kai will attend the screenings. Call for more information. Mandarin, Shanghainese and English dialogue with Chinese and English subtitles.
OTHER LANGUAGE MOVIES
- Daisy (데이지): Daisy is a 2006 Korean movie directed by Hong Kong filmmaker Andrew Lau of the Infernal Affairs trilogy. It´s an urban romantic melodrama between a young art painter (Jun Ji-hyun), an Interpol detective and a professional hitman. With a twist that is bound to make its audience think about their own perception about love, the film was shot entirely in The Netherlands, for the most part in the city of Amsterdam, Haarlem and Epen. It stars Jun Ji-hyun (My Sassy Girl), Jung Woo-sung (Musa), David Chiang, Lee Sung-jae (Public Enemy), and Cheon Ho-jin (The Big Swindle).