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Eclectic mix of films hit cinemas
By Xu Wei

Summer means many things to many people. In the movie industry it usually means big-budget blockbusters that are often packed with action.

Hollywood films slated for release in Chinese cinemas this summer include the action film “Good People,” based on the best-selling novel of Marcus Sakey; the Marvel superhero film “Fantastic Four” and the sci-fi action film “Terminator: Genisys” starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

While these films are expected to attract big crowds, moviegoers would be wise to delve a little deeper and look at a diverse lineup of Chinese flicks. The films cover genres from comedy to martial arts and fantasy to suspense thriller.

Dai Guoping, deputy general manager of Yonghua Cinema, says: “Animated films, youth movies and films with Internet origins and online fan bases will be among the most popular ones this summer.”


Dai expects “Tiny Times 4,” the last installment in the series, to do well along with the Chinese animated film “Monkey King: Hero is Back.” It’s based on the famous Chinese novel “Journey to the West.”

Tonight the film will have its danmu premiere at Juying International Cinema. Danmu refers to movie viewers being able to use their smartphones to send comments about the film for others to see in the cinema.

“The Three Pigs and the Lamp” is a cartoon movie about three little pigs outwitting evil wolves to protect their homeland.

“Monster Hunt” is a fantasy adventure with an IMAX 3D version. It centers on the adventures of a cute, kind monster named Hu Ba. Hong Kong director Raman Hui, who directed “Shrek the Third,” says he hopes “Monster Hunt” becomes the Chinese version of Shrek.

Internet actor and host Da Peng will release his directorial debut “A Hero or Not” on July 17. Starring Da Peng, Liu Yan and Jean-Claude Van Damme, the action-packed comedy is considered the Chinese answer to Hollywood superhero productions. It tells the story of a big star who hits rock bottom after an accident.

The first ever martial arts film, “The Assassin,” by celebrated Taiwan art film master Hou Hsiao-hsien will be released on the mainland on July 31. Hou won the Best Director Award at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival for the film.

Set in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), the movie revolves around assassin Nie Yinniang, who falls in love with the man she is ordered to assassinate.

Hou spent seven years making the film. The script has been revised many times after detailed research on the famous ancient legend. In addition to mind-blowing kung fu scenes, Hou retains his artistic style with a series of stunningly realistic costumes and poetic scenes.

Thriller movie fans will likely be on the lookout for “The Buried Secret,” which will hit cinemas across China on August 7.

Set in the 1940s, the movie is based on the true story of a group of students trying to uncover the secret of a “haunted” house. The students start dying one after another after a series of “supernatural events.”

Critically acclaimed Chinese film “The Dead End” is slated for release on August 27. At the recent Shanghai International Film Festival, Cao Baoping, the film’s director, won the Golden Goblet Award for Best Director. Deng Chao, Duan Yihong and Guo Tao also shared the festival’s Best Actor Award for their efforts in “The Dead End.”

The film details the story of how an entire family was murdered. Director Cao has spent many years writing the script and making pitches to potential investors. He says it’s been worth it. Compared with many superficial productions in this genre, the film explores the complexity of humanity.

In the first half of this year, China’s box office proceeds reached 20.3 billion yuan (US$3.27 billion), up 47.6 percent from the same period of 2014. So cinemas have a good reason to be optimistic about the summer.

Max Zhang, a movie buff and administrative manager, says it is a good sign that Hollywood films are now not necessarily the first choice for Chinese moviegoers.

“We are eager to see many more original Chinese movies with compelling stories that are closer to our lives and cultural traditions,” Zhang says. “It’s a good time for domestic filmmakers to display their creativity and talent.”

In addition to Hollywood and Chinese productions, the summer season also includes a smattering of films from Europe.

“The Snow Queen,” a 3D animated film series based on the story of the same name by Hans Christian Andersen, offers Chinese audiences a chance to see a Russian animated production.

The first installment of the franchise will be released on August 3. It is a story about a courageous girl who embarks on a journey to save her brother and the frozen world.

The British animated comedy, “Shaun the Sheep Movie,” has been adapted from a popular TV series. It follows Shaun, Bitzer and the flock as they go to the big city to rescue the Farmer.

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