Putonghua comes to movie channel HBO for the first time on Christmas Day and Boxing Day as two made-for-television martial arts films set in ancient China receive their premieres.

Both are set during the late Qing dynasty. Master of the Drunken Fist: Beggar So (Now TV channel 115, December 25, 9pm) stars Cao Jun, while Sun Hao-ran takes the lead role in Master of the Shadowless Kick: Wong Kei-Ying (Now TV channel 115, December 26, 9pm). Action-film veteran Guo Jianyong directed both films, with Hong Kong action director Corey Yuen (The Transporter, X-Men) serving as executive producer.

Filmed in Putonghua and subtitled in English and Chinese, they are co-produced by HBO Asia Original and Chinese state-owned China Movie Channel.

“Apart from being HBO Asia’s very first Chinese-language production and approach to the genre, this also marks the network’s first collaboration with talents from China, Hong Kong and Singapore,” says HBO Asia chief Jonathan Spink.

In Master of the Drunken Fist: Beggar So, the ambitious but pampered So Chan is set to become the emperor’s martial arts champion before losing everything when he is embroiled in a political conspiracy at the imperial court. He must refine his fighting technique to take revenge, and perhaps find love along the way.

On Boxing Day, Master of the Shadowless Kick: Wong Kei-Ying sees an honest physician tricked into helping the treacherous governor of Canton before learning the legendary martial art Shadowless Kick in a bid to take down the corrupt official.

Other productions in the growing HBO Asia Original stable this year have included Halfworlds Season 2 and The Psychic, the channel’s first Taiwanese co-production.