Asura, the costliest Chinese film ever, flopped spectacularly and was withdrawn from cinemas after just three days after earning only US$7.1 million on the opening weekend.
However, while Asura didn’t win the hearts of Chinese audiences, we look at five potential summer blockbusters you should not miss.
Dying to Survive
This low-budget comedy-drama stormed the Chinese box office, taking US$183.4 million in sales during its four-day opening week and has racked up US$390 million in two weeks.
The movie is based on the real life story of Lu Yong, a Chinese leukaemia patient who smuggled generic cancer medicines from India for fellow patients, leading some critics to describe it as a Chinese equivalent of the Dallas Buyers Club.
The lead actor, Xu Zheng, is a famous Chinese comedy actor who co-produced and starred in Lost in Thailand and Lost in Hong Kong. Directed by first-timer Wen Muye, the movie touches on a deep-rooted social issue in China about high pharmaceutical costs, especially for cancer treatment. Even Chinese Premier Li Keqiang used the film to promote price cuts in cancer medication.
Any Jiang Wen film is invariably a box office hit. This action comedy film, Hidden Man, is directed by Jiang Wen, who also co-stars, and features other househole Chinese stars Liao Fan, Eddie Peng, Zhou Yun and Xu Qing.
The film earned US$17.9 million on the opening day and has grossed US$63 million in sales, ranking second behind dark comedy Dying to Survive.
The novel-based revenge drama tells the story of a young Chinese swordsman in the 1930s who returns home to solve a five year-old murder case. It is considered the third element of a loose old-time gangster trilogy along with Jiang’s other movies, Let the Bullets Fly and Gone with the Bullets.
Rotten Tomatoes describes this comic-based action adventure movie as “China’s The Hunger Games meets The Matrix”. It tells the story of a gambling game on a ship, with all the dirty plots and backstabbing involved. The movie features hi-tech special effects.
The thriller kicked off the summer blockbuster season on June 29 and topped the Chinese box office for two weeks after a US$38.2 million opening. It is still trending now, ranking third.
The movie is directed by Han Yan, the director of Go Away, Mr. Tumor, which represented China at the 88th Academy Awards, and was produced by Chen Zhixi, who also produced the blockbusters Lost in Thailand and Detective Chinatown. The film stars young Chinese actor Li Yifeng, Zhou Dongyu and Hollywood star Michael Douglas.
It took eminent Chinese director and producer Zhang Yimou almost three years to finish working on the script, and another two years for filming and post-production of this highly-anticipated film.
The historical epic tells the story of a “nobody” imprisoned for eight years before he finally resolves to break out and stop being someone else’s puppet. The all-star cast features Deng Chao, Sun Li, Zheng Kai, Hu Jun and Guan Xiaotong.
The movie was voted the most anticipated on 2018 Weibo Movie Night, and will be in theatres on September 30.
Detective Dee: The Four Heavenly Kings
Opening on July 27, directed by Hark Tsui and produced by Chen Guofu, it is the third instalment in the Detective Dee mystery series. The two earlier movies were both blockbusters in China. Mark Chao, Feng Shaofeng, Lin Gengxin and Carina Lau reprise their roles from the previous films, with Ethan Juan and Sandra Ma among the newcomers.
Following on from the second film, Rise of the Sea Dragon, the story takes place in the Tang dynasty, with Empress Wu Zetian seeking to gain power and seize the prestigious “Dragon Taming Mace” granted to Detective Dee by the former emperor.