Although Chinese New Year 2021 is only two months behind us, new Chinese blockbusters have already begun plotting their takeover of the biggest moviegoing week in the world’s largest film market for 2022.
Four Chinese titles have just announced their plans to debut next Feb. 1, the first day of the 2022 lunar new year. The most high-profile new release announced Friday is former racecar driver and literary bad boy Han Han’s next film, whose Chinese name translates to “The Four Seas.” Two of the four films will star Shen Teng (“Hi, Mom,” “Hello Mr. Billionaire”).
This will be the third Chinese new year release for Han, following 2017’s “Duckweed,” which grossed $152 million, and “Pegasus” in 2019, which grossed $256 million. It will star Liu Haoran, Liu Haocun, Shen Teng, Yin Zheng, Zhou Qi, Zhang Youhao, Qiao Shan, Feng Shaofeng, Wang Yanlin and Gao Huayang, and feature special appearances from Huang Xiaoming, Chen Xiaochun, Wan Ziliang and Wu Yanshu.
A number of the cast members are Han’s frequent collaborators. Shen Teng and Yin Zheng both starred in “Pegasus,” while Feng Shaofeng appeared in both “Pegasus” and “Duckweed.” Gao Huayang has appeared in all of Han’s films.
Backed by Shanghai Tingdong Films and Beijing Chunfeng Deyi Culture, the film tells the story of a young motorcycle stunt driver (Liu Haoran) who reunites with his long estranged father and then accidentally encounters a young girl and her brother who race cars themselves. A road trip ensues.
In a Weibo post late Thursday, Han described his nervousness prior to announcing the new project and its 30-second teaser trailer: “At this time, I still feel like I felt when I shot the first shot of my first movie.”
Online, some fans laughed that this was because from the trailer, the film seems pretty similar to his others, remixing the same story elements and tropes. One critic made a tongue-in-cheek list of the six elements Han returns to again and again: high-speed vehicle-driving protagonists, small-town life, strong depictions of fatherly love, the theme of brotherhood, a love that catalyzes the protagonist’s growth and a black comedic tone.
The next Chinese New Year release of note is a film whose Chinese name translates to “Superpower Family,” from renowned theater group and production firm Kaixin Mahua. Directed by actor-director Song Yang (“Goodbye, Mr. Loser”) and starring Kaixin Mahua actors Shen Teng and the mononymous Allen, it will be the first Kaixin Mahua Chinese New Year blockbuster.
It tells the story of a young man who has run away from home but returns to his hometown to attend his grandfather’s funeral, only to unexpectedly discover that as long as the family is together, they can command superpowers. When an evil local mayor tries to steal the app he developed, he must re-unite with his family to use their powers to fight back.
A third film is an Olympic speed-skating sports movie “Breaking Through,” the first of what will presumably be a number of films boosting local enthusiasm for winter sports ahead of the 2022 Beijing Olympics. Directed by Wang Fangfang, who has been previously been involved with two unnotable sports-related titles, it will perhaps derive its clout from its producer Xu Zheng, the A-list actor. It stars Meng Meiqi and Xia Yu (“A Little Red Flower”) to tell the story the coach and young athlete who won China’s first Winter Olympics gold in short-track speed-skating.
The fourth film is the children’s animation “Chibi Maruko Chan: The Fantastic Notebook,” the first 3D adaptation of the iconic Japanese shojo manga series. It is backed by Guangzhou’s Sublime Media, directed by China’s Xue Xiaolu (“Finding Mr. Right,” “Book of Love”), and overseen by the original Japanese team at Sakura Productions.
“As we are going to [create] a continuation of the classic, I hope my team can also add fresh content [to] touch your hearts,” said Xue, explaining that the new film will add fantasy and adventure elements.
Watch the teaser trailer for Han Han’s “The Four Seas” below.
Watch the teaser trailer for “Superpower Family” below.