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Yoon Shi Yoon and Kim Sae Ron star in fantasy drama Mirror of the Witch

  April 28, 2016  
Yoon Shi Yoon (Prime Minister and I) and teen actress Kim Sae Ron (A Girl at My Door) take the leading roles in JTBC's fantasy romantic period drama Mirror of the Witch, which is Yoon Shi Yoon's first drama since his military discharge. Inspired by the Korean medical book Dongui Bogam compiled by famous imperial physician Heo Joon, the drama directed by Jo Hyun Tak (Maids) combines the life of Heo Joon with witchcraft.

Mirror of the Witch is about the early life and romance of Heo Joon who falls in love with a witch. The drama also features Kwak Shi Yang from Night Flight and Oh My Ghostess, Yeom Jung Ah (Royal Family), Lee Yi Kyung (Maids), Jang Hee Jin (Scholar Who Walks the Night), Moon Ga Young (EXO Next Door) and Jo Dal Hwan (Ugly Love).

Heo Joon (Yoon Shi Yoon) is a young, passionate man who loves helping people in need. Born to a concubine, he is despised by others despite his cleverness and outstanding martial arts skills. Seo Ri (Kim Sae Ron), originally called Yeon Hee, is the daughter of Queen Shim (Jang Hee Jin). Unable to have a child, Queen Shim asks for help from powerful witch Hong Joo (Yeom Jung Ah) and finally gets a boy and a girl, but the twin girl is put under a curse and becomes a white-haired witch. The abandoned little princess is saved by Hong Joo's opponent Choi Hyun Seo (Lee Sung Jae). Harboring a crush on Yeon Hee, Choi Hyun Seo's son Poong Yeon (Kwak Shi Yang) takes care of her throughout the years and helps her communicate with the outside world after she turns into witch Seo Ri and moves to the mountains. Seo Ri and Heo Joon meet in the mountains one day and develop a romantic relationship, thus forming a love triangle.

Mirror of the Witch begins airing on JTBC on May 13.

Text / Pisces

Vicki Zhao reveals cast of second directorial film

  April 27, 2016  
Award-winning actress Vicki Zhao recently unveiled the cast of her second directorial effort No Other Love (Mei You Bie De Ai) through the film's first set of promotional images. The simple black-and-white teasers show close-up shots of the eyes of the eight main cast members: Chinese actresses Joan Chen (The Sun Also Rises), Yolanda Yuan (The Continent), Ning Jing (Lady of the Dynasty), Faye Yu (A Thousand Years of Good Prayers) and Qi Xi (Mystery), singer Han Hong (So Young), Taiwan actor Leon Dai (Parking) and Japanese actress Mizuhara Kiko (Attack on Titan).

In 2013, Zhao made a big splash with her blockbuster directorial debut So Young. The coming-of-age romance earned the actress-turned-director many awards, including Best Director at the 32nd Hundred Flowers Awards, and the distinction of being the first Chinese female director with a film grossing over 100 million yuan at the box office.

Zhao works again with So Young screenwriter and producer Li Qiang for her highly anticipated follow-up, which began shooting in March. Based on German writer Ingrid Noll's 1991 novel Der Hahn ist tot, No Other Love is about a horticulturalist who thought her love life had reached a dead end until she falls head over heels for a middle-aged academic. Her passion ignited, she puts everything on the line for love.

Text / Sanwei

SHINee to make Japan comeback with "copycat" group SHINyan

  April 25, 2016  
SHINee will be releasing the Japanese single Kimi no Sei de ("Because of You") on May 18. The single will be promoted together with the "copycat" group SHINyan, formed by five kitties created based on the K-pop group members' personalities and interests.

"Because of You" is a heartrending medium-tempo dance number about the pain of separation. The song was first revealed in the group's fourth Japan concert tour SHINee World 2016 DxDxD held from March 24 to 26 this year in Yoyogi National Gymnasium, Tokyo. The single will also contain the new song Nothing to Lose.

On the day of SHINee's comeback, kitty group SHINyan will debut in Japan with "Because of You for Cat," which is a cat version of "Because of You." The cat version's music video will be unveiled as well.

SHINyan is a group of five little cats that helps promote SHINee's Japanese songs when they are busy with overseas promotion. The group is created based on the SHINee members' personalities and hobbies. Group leader ONEWNyan is a chicken-loving cat with droopy ears. Main vocalist JONGNyan is a cool cat with a slim and flexible body. Fashionista KEYNyan is a smart cat that understands human language. Rapper MINONyan is a large, charismatic and athletic cat with velvety long fur. Dancing machine TAEMINyan is a shy cat with aquamarine eyes.

Text / Pisces

Death Note returns ten years later with new film

  April 25, 2016  
Popular manga Death Note, which inspired a series of blockbuster films in 2006, will return to cinemas this year with a new live-action film titled Death Note Light up the NEW world. Set ten years after the events of the 2006 films, Light up the NEW world stars Higashide Masahiro, Ikematsu Sosuke and Suda Masaki in a new story helmed by Sato Shinsuke, the director of the Gantz and Library Wars adaptations.

Serialized in Weekly Shonen Jump from 2003 to 2006, the original Death Note by Ohba Tsugumi and Obata Takeshi revolves around disaffected university student Light who discovers a notebook that allows him to kill individuals by writing their names within. Light uses the "death note" to execute his own brand of justice under the moniker Kira, but he meets his match in quirky genius detective L. Besides the 2006 films starring Fujiwara Tatsuya and Matsumoto Kenichi, Death Note has also been adapted into an anime series and most recently, last year's TV drama starring Kubota Masataka and Yamazaki Kento.

In Death Note Light up the NEW world, six death notes continue to wreak havoc and claim lives around the world ten years after the battle between Kira and L. Higashide Masahiro stars as Mishima, an investigator on Japan's special death note task force, while Ikematsu plays L's successor, detective Ryuzaki, and Suda Masaki plays a cyber terrorist following in the footsteps of Kira.

Death Note Light up the NEW world opens in Japan on October 29, 2016.

Text / Sanwei

IU, Lee Jun Ki & Kang Ha Neul star in Korean remake of Startling By Each Step

  April 14, 2016  
IU, Lee Jun Ki and Kang Ha Neul take on the leading roles in SBS's time-travel period drama Scarlet Heart: Ryeo (formerly titled Moon Lovers), the Korean television adaptation of Chinese writer Tong Hua's hit novel Startling By Each Step (a.k.a. Bu Bu Jing Xin). The original novel is about a modern woman who wakes up in the Qing Dynasty after an accident and becomes involved in the princes' vigorous competition for the throne. Director Kim Kyu Tae, who helmed popular dramas such as IRIS, The Winter, The Wind Blows and It's Okay, That's Love, and screenwriter Jo Yoon Young (Cinderella Man) team up to create a new version of the historical fantasy story in the context of Korean history.

The Korean adaptation features myriad popular stars in the cast. Singer IU plays the female lead Ko Ha Jin, a 34-year-old cosmetics salesperson in modern Korea who through a blip of time becomes a16-year-old teenage girl called Hae Soo in the Goryeo Dynasty. Lee Jun Ki plays the role of the ruthless 4th Prince Wang So nicknamed "Dog Wolf" because of his cold-bloodedness. Prince Wang So falls in love with Hae Soo and is eventually crowned King Gwangjong (the 4th king of Goryeo). Kang Ha Neul takes the role of the aggressive 8th Prince Wang Uk who is Wang So's biggest rival for the throne.

The other princes are played by musical star Kim San Ho as Crown Prince Wang Mu or King Hyejong (the 2nd king of Goryeo), Hong Jong Hyun as the arrogant 3rd Prince Wang Yo who becomes King Jeongjong (the 3rd king of Goryeo), Yoon Sun Woo as the 9th Prince Wang Won who wants to win over Hae Soo to show his superiority over his brothers, EXO's Byun Baek Hyun as the playful 10th Prince Wang Eui, model-actor Nam Joo Hyuk as the free-spirited 13th Prince Wang Uk who is Hae Soo's soulmate, and Ji Soo as the charming 14th Prince Wang Jeong.

Other key members of the royal family include Kang Han Na as Princess Hwangbo Yeon Hwa who eventually becomes King Gwangjong's wife Queen Daemok, and Jo Min Ki as King Taejo, the founding father of the Goryeo Dynasty. In addition, Kim Sung Kyun plays an astrologist/fortuneteller who helps Hae Soo, singer Z.Hera plays Hae Soo's maid, and Girls' Generation member Seo Hyun plays Woo Hee, the last princess of the Later Baekje kingdom who becomes a gisaeng in the imperial palace to conceal her royal identity.

Invested by NBC Universal and YG Entertainment, Scarlet Heart: Ryeo is the first Korean drama adapted from a Chinese novel. Tong Hua's novel has previously been adapted twice, the most famous being producer/director Lee Kwok Lap's 2011 Chinese TV drama which won " Most Popular Foreign Drama of the Year" at the 7th Seoul International Drama Awards and earned stars Nicky Wu and Cecilia Liu prizes at the 18th Shanghai TV Festival's Magnolia Awards.

Scarlet Heart: Ryeo is set to air on SBS in the coming autumn.

Text / Pisces

New K-pop girl group from Produce 101 to debut as IOI

  April 8, 2016  
The top 11 contestants of Mnet's survival show Produce 101 were announced on April 1 during the final episode. The program, which began airing on January 22, is a project to create a limited-time K-pop girl group with members selected through online voting from a pool of 101 trainee contestants. The winning members will make their official debut in May as a group called IOI managed by YMC Entertainment.

First place went to Jeon Somi (JYP Entertainment), who automatically becomes the center of the group, followed by Kim Se Jeong (Jellyfish Entertainment) and Choi Yoo Jung (Fantagio Entertainment). The remaining spots are taken by (in order of ranking) Kim Chung Ha (M&H Entertainment), Kim So Hye (Redline Entertainment), Pinky Zhou Jieqiong (Pledis Entertainment) from Shanghai, Jung Chae Yeon (MBK Entertainment), Kim Do Yeon (Fantagio Entertainment), Kang Mi Na (Jellyfish Entertainment), group leader Lim Na Young (Pledis Entertainment) and Yoo Yeon Jung (Starship Entertainment).

The rookie girl group will officially debut in May and release a mini-album in a unique concept. The title song of their album has not yet been decided but the girls first released the spirited dance single Crush on April 5 to greet their fans. In the following ten months, IOI will release four albums including two group albums and two subunit albums. They have been invited to model for cosmetics brand Etude House, alcohol brand Hite-Jinro's Isul Tok Tok and energy drink brand Haneul Bori. They will also participate in the variety shows Weekly Idol and Cool Kiz on the Block.

Among those eliminated from the show, some will also debut very soon. Star Empire Entertainment's Han Hye Ri, Kang Shi Hyeon and Kim Yoon Ji will debut in a group named OMZM. Cube Entertainment's Kwon Eun Bin has already joined CLC and will begin activities with the group for their Japan debut. Music K's Kim Ju Na, who participated in the soundtrack of SBS drama High Society, will release her first solo album in June. Show Works Entertainment's Hwang In Sun, a former member of Smile. G, will debut in April with her first solo album.

After the success of Produce 101, Mnet is preparing for a second season titled Boys 24. Male trainees from major entertainment agencies including YG Entertainment, SM Entertainment, Woollim Entertainment and Jellyfish Entertainment, as well as applicants with musical, theater and film backgrounds are welcome to join the competition. After vigorous vocal and dance training and foreign language classes, the final 24 contestants will hold performances in Myeongdong for 365 days to promote the Korean Wave and attract tourists. Boys 24 is slated to air at the end of 2016 or in early 2017.

Text / Pisces

Port of Call and Ten Years win at 35th Hong Kong Film Awards

  April 5, 2016  
The 35th Hong Kong Film Awards were held on April 3, 2016. Philip Yung's crime thriller Port of Call, which had led with 13 nominations, swept seven awards including Best Screenplay, Best Cinematography (Christopher Doyle) and all five acting prizes: Best Actor for Aaron Kwok, Best Actress for Jessie Li, Best Supporting Actress for Elaine Jin and both Best Supporting Actor and Best New Performer for Michael Ning. Indie hit Ten Years, a dystopian omnibus that imagines the state of Hong Kong a decade later, won Best Film amid much controversy.

Following wins at the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards and the Golden Rooster Awards, Tsui Hark was named Best Director again for his period action-adventure The Taking of Tiger Mountain, which also garnered a technical prize for Best Sound Design. Fantasy blockbuster Monster Hunt won Best New Director for Raman Hui, as well as Best Visual Effects and Best Costume & Make Up Design (Yee Chung Man).

Johnny To's workplace musical Office won Best Art Direction (William Chang, Yau Wai Ming) and Best Original Film Score (Lo Dayu, Chan Fai Young), while Best Original Film Song went to "We Almost Fly" performed by Feanna Wong from the film She Remembers, He Forgets. SPL 2: A Time for Consequences's Li Chung Chi was recognized for Best Action Choreography and Ip Man 3 picked up a technical prize in Editing. Hou Hsiao Hsien's The Assassin was named the Best Film From Mainland and Taiwan.

Voice actor Chow Wing Kong was recognized with the Professional Achievement Award. Actress and singer Li Li Hua, who was also honored at last year's Golden Horse Awards, received the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Text / Sanwei

NMB48's Yamamoto Sayaka & Yagura Fuko at Hong Kong International Film Festival

  April 5, 2016  
NMB48 members Yamamoto Sayaka and Yagura Fuko visited Hong Kong on April 3, 2016 to promote the film Raise Your Arms and Twist - Documentary of NMB48, which had its international premiere at the 40th Hong Kong International Film Festival. During the film's press conference, the two J-pop idols as well as director Funahashi Atsushi shared their thoughts on the documentary which chronicles the daily lives and behind-the-scenes stories of the Japanese girl group.

For Funahashi Atsushi, who is best known for the Nuclear Nation documentary series about people displaced by the Fukushima nuclear crisis, Raise Your Arms and Twist represents a significant change in topic from his previous works. The director, who hails from Osaka, admitted that he too had never thought about making an idol movie before, but in the process of shooting the documentary, he found the idol industry with its "structure and hierarchy" to be very interesting and Osaka girls to be very funny. "I really wanted to depict the dynamics inside of this idol community," he stated. By focusing on members of different rankings and showing what occurs behind the scenes, he hopes to let outsiders see the "light and shadow" of the idol industry and the difficult process of becoming an idol.

Yamamoto Sayaka, the leader of NMB48 and one of the most popular members out of AKB48 and its sister groups, expressed that she's happy that their real selves could be portrayed on film. Yagura Fuko said that watching the film also allowed her to learn about other members' feelings and experiences. As the girls' family members appear in the film, Yagura happily noted that her little brother was excited about making his movie debut while her mother felt a bit embarrassed.

Based in Namba, Osaka, NMB48 was launched in 2011 as the first sister group to the top-selling idol act AKB48 produced by Akimoto Yasushi. In the five years since debut, NMB48 has released two #1 albums and 13 singles to date, and sold over six million records. The group's newest single Amagami Hime will be released later this month on April 27.

See photos from the press conference on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Sanwei

f(x) leader Victoria stars as the New Sassy Girl

  March 31, 2016  
f(x)'s Victoria Song will make her silver-screen debut as the sassy girlfriend in Jo Geun Sik's romantic comedy My New Sassy Girl, a Korean-Chinese sequel to the 2001 box-office smash My Sassy Girl. Cha Tae Hyun remains in the role of the hapless Kyun Woo. The funny love story is about the married life of Kyun Woo and his new sassy girl. The film also co-stars Mina Fujii as Yuko, the third wheel to the newlywed couple.

Heartbroken after breaking up with his former lover, Kyun Woo (Cha Tae Hyun) meets his first love Xing Xing (Victoria Song), a Chinese girl who was teased by her elementary school classmates due to her broken Korean. They fall in love again and tie the knot despite the opposition from both families. However, their married life is beyond Kyun Woo's imagination.

Jeff Chang again sings the film's classic theme song I Believe in Chinese, with new arrangement and lyrics. The sub-theme song I Believe 2 is performed by singer-songwriter Silence Wong.

New Sassy Girl is slated for simultaneous release in Korea and China on April 22.

Text / Pisces

Hey! Say! JUMP's Inoo Kei to make film debut in Peach Girl adaptation

  March 30, 2016  
Hey! Say! JUMP member Inoo Kei and up-and-coming actress Yamamoto Mizuki have been cast in the live-action film adaptation of Ueda Miwa's shojo manga Peach Girl. The film will mark Inoo's silver-screen debut and the first leading role in a romantic feature for Yamamoto, following appearances in films like The Kirishima Thing, Black Butler and Sadako vs. Kayako.

Serialized from 1997 to 2004, Peach Girl revolves around high school student Adachi Momo who is often misunderstood because of her tan skin and dyed red hair. She has only one friend, Sae, who turns out to be the very person spreading unsavory rumors about her around school. Momo has a crush on classmate Toji, but their relationship hits rough waters due to Sae's sabotage and the appearance of easygoing playboy Kairi who also likes Momo. Inoo will play the role of Kairi in the film.

Peach Girl was previously adapted into a Taiwan idol drama starring Vanness Wu, Annie Wu and Kenji Wu in 2002, and an anime series in 2005. The film will be directed by One Hitoshi, who adapted Bakuman to great success last year, and scripted by Yamaoka Junpei (Kamen Teacher).

Peach Girl begins shooting in late March/early April and is slated for a 2017 release.

Text / Sanwei

Ji Sung and Girls' Day Hye Ri to star in SBS drama Entertainer

  March 22, 2016  
Ji Sung and Girls' Day's Hye Ri have been cast in the lead roles of SBS's upcoming TV drama Entertainer. Director Hong Sung Chang (You're Beautiful) and screenwriter Yoo Young A (Miracle in Cell No. 7) will team up to tell the underdog success story of a small entertainment company CEO in light-hearted manner.

After the success of Kill Me, Heal Me, Ji Sung takes on the challenge of playing entertainment agency CEO Shin Suk Ho, who is determined to form a successful idol band. Having shown her acting talent in the hit tvN drama Reply 1988, Girls' Day member Hye Ri turns into 22-year-old orphan Jung Geu Rin who sells fish for a living before becoming the manager of Suk Ho's new idol band. She gradually develops a romantic relationship with Suk Ho.

CNBLUE's Kang Min Hyuk (The Heirs) takes the role of the band leader Cho Ha Neul, a music genius with a wonderful voice. Chae Jung Ahn (Yong Pal) co-stars as an entertainment company CEO and Teen Top's L. Joe plays a band member.

Entertainer is scheduled to start broadcast on April 20.

Text / Pisces

Hou Hsiao Hsien's The Assassin sweeps 10th Asian Film Awards

  March 18, 2016  
Hou Hsiao Hsien's wuxia drama The Assassin swept the 10th Asian Film Awards, held on March 17, 2016 in Macau. Having already garnered top prizes at the Cannes Film Festival and the Golden Horse Awards, the Taiwan auteur's acclaimed film rounded out the award season by winning eight out of the nine categories it was nominated in including Best Film, Best Director, Best Cinematography (Mark Lee), Best Original Music (Lim Giong), Best Supporting Actress (Zhou Yun) and Best Actress for Shu Qi in the title role of the stoic assassin.

Lee Byung Hun was named Best Actor for his role as a political fixer out for revenge in the Korean crime thriller Inside Men. Best Supporting Actor went to Japan's Asano Tadanobu, who plays a spirit on a final trip with his wife in Kurosawa Kiyoshi's Journey to the Shore. Mountains May Depart, a multi-generation tale of love, loss and displacement, garnered Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke the Best Screenplay prize.

Hong Kong director Philip Yung's crime drama Port of Call won Best Editing and Best Newcomer for Jessie Lee. Korean historical drama The Throne and Indian costume epic Bajirao Mastani picked up technical prizes for Best Costume Design and Best Visual Effects, respectively. Chinese fantasy blockbuster Monster Hunt was also recognized as the Highest-grossing Asian Film of 2015.

Lifetime Achievement Awards were presented to Japanese veteran actress Kiki Kirin and Hong Kong action director Yuen Woo Ping.

Text / Sanwei

Emperor Motion Pictures announces new productions for 2016

  March 17, 2016  
Emperor Motion Pictures announced its production slate for 2016 at a press conference held on March 15, 2016 at Hong Kong Filmart. The Chinese entertainment juggernaut's lineup includes new films starring Nicholas Tse, Kara Hui, Simon Yam and William Chan and the latest from directors Benny Chan, Yuen Woo Ping, Fruit Chan, Ho Yu Hang and Herman Yau.

Following the success of his cooking variety program Chef Nic, Nicholas Tse brings his culinary talents to the silver screen as a street cook who competes against a Michelin-starred chef in Cook Up a Storm. The film will be directed by Raymond Yip (The House That Never Dies) and co-star Korean singer Jung Yong Hwa of CNBLUE, who has starred in multiple TV dramas. Producer Mani Fok emphasized that Cook Up a Storm is a narrative feature with high production values, and not a variety program film.

Tse also takes a supporting role in But Always director Zou Xian's new romance I Love That Crazy Little Thing. William Chan, who has enjoyed high popularity in China since his breakout turn in the 2014 TV drama Swords of Legends, plays a director who travels from Beijing to the desert and then to Hawaii in search of an elusive songwriter. Former Girls' Generation member Jessica Jung co-stars in her film debut.

Seven years after the award-winning At the End of Daybreak, Malaysian director Ho Yu Hang reunites with Kara Hui for the action thriller Mrs. K co-starring Simon Yam. Noting that this may be her last action role, the 55-year-old actress trained extensively to physically prepare for the character of a housewife who must pull out the stops to protect her family from an old enemy. She takes on the very different role of a woman with degenerative dementia who develops an unlikely bond with a loner youth, played by Carlos Chan, in Lo Yiu Fai's drama Happiness. Hui shared that as her mother suffered from Alzheimer's disease, she put a lot of her own experiences and regrets into the role.

Fruit Chan directs the dance film Shining Moment which stars singer Hins Cheung as a gymnast who makes a new start teaching Latin dancing to kids. Chan revealed that Cheung's character was originally supposed to have special powers, but this idea was abandoned when shooting began. Meanwhile, director Benny Chan, who is best known for action, also takes on an unexpected new genre in Meow which will star Louis Koo and Ma Li as a couple that discovers their cats are actually aliens on a mission to domesticate humans.

Other new productions teased at the press conference include Yuen Woo Ping's action comedy Hand Over Fist, Taiwan director Lin Yu Hsien's romantic drama Never Said Goodbye starring Lee Jun Ki and Zhou Dongyu, an adaptation of Higashino Keigo's Miracles of the Namiya General Store, Herman Yau's horror film The Sleep Curse starring Anthony Wong and Michelle Wai, and a future collaboration with Feng Xiaogang.

Karena Lam and Jacky Cheung also appeared at the press conference to promote their new film Heaven in the Dark, a dark drama of seduction and abuse that reunites the two stars over a decade after July Rhapsody. Set to open this month, the film garnered Cheung and Lam Best Actor and Actress nominations at the upcoming Hong Kong Film Awards.

See photos from the Emperor Motion Pictures press conference on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Sanwei

Media Asia reveals film lineup with John Woo's Manhunt & Vincent Zhao's God of War

  March 17, 2016  
Media Asia Film announced its blockbuster 2016 lineup and revealed more details about John Woo's Manhunt at a star-filled press conference on March 16, 2016 at Hong Kong Filmart.

Besides working with Johnnie To's Milkyway productions for the crime thrillers Trivisa and Three, Media Asia collaborates with Shaw Brothers Pictures for Line Walker The Movie, based on the hit 2014 TVB police crime series. TV queen Charmaine Sheh reprises her award-winning role as a spunky undercover cop along with a fresh new cast that includes Nick Cheung, Louis Koo and Francis Ng.

Gordon Chan directs the period action epic God of War, which marks the first collaboration of action heavyweights Vincent Zhao and Sammo Hung. Zhao stars as Ming Dynasty general Qi Jiguang, a 16th century national hero figure noted for defending China's eastern coast from Japanese pirates. Japanese actors Kurata Yasuaki and Koide Keisuke co-star in the film which features location shooting in the actual historical locales of battles.

The very busy Gordon Chan has a few other projects on the plate. He announced his intention to turn Jin Yong's classic martial arts adventure The Legend of the Condor Heroes into a 3D film. Noting that "Every Hong Kong director has a Jin Yong dream," Chan hopes to stay as close to the source material as possible in his adaptation of the quintessential wuxia novel, and depict the growth and journey of hero Guo Jing starting from his teenage years.

Chan is also a producer on the period fantasy Novoland: Legend of the Naga Pearls and John Woo's Manhunt. The first feature film by TV director Yang Lei, Novoland: Legend of the Naga Pearls is based on Tangqi Gongzi's popular novel series that also inspired the TV drama Hua Xu Yin: City of Desperate Love. The fantastical film is headlined by two recent young breakout stars, Darren Wang of Taiwan youth blockbuster Our Times and Zhang Tianai of the hit Chinese web series Go Princess Go.

John Woo's remake of the 1976 Japanese film Manhunt, which was first announced at last year's Media Asia press conference, now has a cast in Zhang Hanyu, Fukuyama Masaharu and Stephy Qi Wei. Zhang plays the framed protagonist forced to go on the run, while Fukuyama is the detective chasing after him.

The first foreign film to play in Mainland China after the end of the Cultural Revolution, the original Manhunt was massively popular in China and had a huge impact on popular culture at the time. Zhang Hanyu recalled watching the film over 30 times in theater in order to copy and memorize the dialogue, and said that the film influenced his decision to start his career in voice acting. Manhunt is currently in production and will be shooting in Osaka.

See photos from the Media Asia press conference on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Sanwei

Nessun Dorma and Robbery to screen at Hong Kong International Film Festival

  March 16, 2016  
Produced by Sun Entertainment Culture and distributed by Bravos Pictures, Hong Kong productions Nessun Dorma and Robbery held a joint press conference attended by the cast and crew on March 15, 2016 at Hong Kong Filmart. Both pictures will be screened at the 40th Hong Kong International Film Festival.

Selected for the New York Asian Film Festival, the Fantasia International Film Festival and the Osaka Asian Film Festival, director Fire Lee's Robbery featuring Derek Tsang, J.Arie, Lam Suet, Stanley Fung, Philip Keung and Anita Chui is a black comedy full of twists and turns. Tsang plays an apathetic slacker who works at a convenience store, but the appearances of his mean boss, a violent old man, a wealthy man, a sexy woman and a mad bomber interrupt his night shift. The convenience store represents a microcosm of society in which people become fed up and finally break down when their needs are not answered. Robbery opens in Hong Kong on April 14, 2016.

Adapted from a novel of the same title, suspense thriller Nessun Dorma is the second collaboration between director Herman Yau and screenwriter Erica Li after last year's well-received Sara. Starring Janice Man, Gordon Lam and Andy Hui along with Candice Yu, Jacky Cai, Wilfred Lau, Tarah Chan and Phat Chen, the film is about the post-traumatic transformation of a woman and her relationships with her fiancé and the man she loves.

In the film, Jasmine (Janice Man) is engaged to multi-millionaire Vincent (Gordon Lam), but she secretly loves Fong (Andy Hui). One day, she wakes up to find herself naked and locked up in a room. More strange things occur and the secrets among the trio are gradually revealed. Nessun Dorma will screen at the Hong Kong International Film Festival on March 22 and open in theaters in the summer.

Text / Pisces

Mei Ah Entertainment unveils six new films

  March 16, 2016  
Hong Kong-based film production company Mei Ah Entertainment unveiled six movies in multiple genres ranging from comedy to suspense in its press conference on March 15, 2016 at Hong Kong Filmart.

Helmed by director Wong Jing and starring Francis Ng, Miriam Yeung and child star Angela Wang, family comedy Girl of the Big House centers around a group of kids who engage in a battle of wits with thieves in a luxurious villa. It also co-stars funnyman Jim Chim, veteran actress Yuen Qiu and pop trio Grasshopper whose music will be used throughout the film.

Director Chan Hing Ka's workplace comedy Where is Bra Bra? focuses on the themes of gender conflict and underwear, echoing his 2001 hit La Brassiere. Chan disclosed that the film will feature some well-known lingerie models.

Apart from comedies, Mei Ah Entertainment will launch suspense movies as well. Adapted from Chinese author Cai Jun's mystery novel, Joe Ma's romantic suspense fantasy Butterfly Cemetery starring Chinese actress Zhang Li and Taiwan actor Vivian Dawson is an exciting adventure about a half-butterfly girl. Visual effects will be used to create an aura of mystery and fantasy. The film will be released at the end of 2016.

After the great success of Port of Call, director Philip Yung, together with producers Manfred Wong and Julia Chu, will bring another crime thriller in Gui Hua Piao Xiang, based on the real-life case of a Chinese village woman who chased after the murderer of her husband for 17 years.

Youth films are also in Mei Ah's plans for 2016. Coming-of-age drama Growing Up, produced by Manfred Wong, follows Hu Zengxue, the child star of Roots and Branches, from 2002 to 2016, capturing the growth of the girl as well as Beijing. Wong recalled that Hu's family couldn't afford her school fees so he decided to pay for her education, and shot this film along the way. Though there originally seemed little commercial hope for a film of this nature, the worldwide success of 2014's Boyhood, which has essentially the same premise as Growing Up, has opened up new potential for the film's release. Stars like Kelly Chen and Qin Hailu also cameo in the movie.

Hong Kong rookie director Doris Wong teams up with Taiwan director/producer Wei Te Sheng (Cape No. 7, KANO) for the youth film The Travel Diary about a girl who travels across Taiwan on bicycle in search of another girl resembling herself. The story was written based on Wong's own traveling experiences in Taiwan and Wei, who completed a round-island tour of Taiwan on foot, gave advice on the plot. The Way We Dance's Cherry Ngan will play the leading role and share the screen with actors from Taiwan and Mainland China. The Travel Diary will start shooting this September.

See photos from the Mei Ah Entertainment press conference on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Pisces

Call of Heroes with Sean Lau, Louis Koo & Eddie Peng opens summer 2016

  March 15, 2016  
Hong Kong director Benny Chan's period action movie Call of Heroes, previously titled The Deadly Reclaim, is set to open this summer. The film's action-packed trailer was unveiled on March 14, 2016 at a press conference attended by the director, action director Sammo Hung and actors Sean Lau Ching Wan, Louis Koo, Eddie Peng, Jiang Shuying, Liu Kai Chi, Philip Keung, Berg Ng and Sammy Hung.

Stars Sean Lau, Louis Koo and Eddie Peng brandished their characters' weapons – whip, golden pistol and dadao sword, respectively – during the press conference and discussed their experiences and difficulties in shooting the action-heavy film. Lau was pegged as the most dangerous actor because of his two-meter whip, while Koo expressed that, in comparison to the other two actors, he was glad his weapon was a gun.

Set in the early 20th century after the fall of the Qing Dynasty when China was rife with turmoil and civil warfare, Call of Heroes follows the deadly events that unfold when Pucheng village militia captain Yang (Lau) tries to bring young warlord Cao (Koo) to justice for murder. Zhang (Wu Jing), a colonel under the rich and powerful Cao family, rushes to Pucheng to retrieve Cao, and runs into old friend Ma (Peng), a wandering martial artist. Stepping up to lend a helping hand in Pucheng, Ma finds himself caught between justice and brotherhood.

Call of Heroes opens in June 2016.

See photos from the Call of Heroes press conference on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Sanwei

Derek Yee unveils 3D wuxia film Sword Master at Hong Kong Filmart

  March 15, 2016  
After three years of production and over a year since it wrapped shooting, Derek Yee's period action epic Sword Master 3D held its first press conference on March 14, 2016 at Hong Kong Filmart. Based on the wuxia novel San Shao Ye De Jian by Gu Long, the highly anticipated film stars Lin Gengxin as a retired swordsman who is forced to return to the martial arts world by a longtime nemesis, played by Peter Ho. Lin, as well as co-stars Jiang Yiyan, Jiang Mengjie and Gu Caobin, joined Yee at the press conference of Sword Master, which is currently the only 3D wuxia film slated for 2016.

Yee shared that he first thought of shooting Sword Master in 2000. However, after the release of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, he put the plan on hold as he felt that he didn't have anything new to bring to the wuxia genre at the time. With the advent of 3D technology, he found new inspiration to shoot the story and enlisted the expertise of Tsui Hark, who co-wrote and produced the film. Yee himself was learning about shooting in 3D during the process and relied greatly on Tsui who had already accumulated plentiful 3D experience with Flying Swords of Dragon Gate, Young Detective Dee: Rise of the Sea Dragon and The Taking of Tiger Mountain.

Sword Master holds especial significance in the context of Yee's career as the former Shaw Brothers star himself first shot to fame in the 1977 film Death Duel, an adaptation of the same Gu Long novel. He also had the chance to meet Gu Long many years ago and heard firsthand the writer's insights into his novel.

During the press conference, Yee literally passed the sword to Lin Gengxin, and remarked that the new-generation star was better than him in the protagonist role of Third Master Chi. As Yee was only 19 when he starred in Death Duel, he felt that Lin, at his current age and maturity, is more suited for the role than he was back then.

See photos from Sword Master press conference on YesAsia Facebook.

Text / Sanwei

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