Filming the gripping tales of China's heroes

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. An array of mainstream movies will hit the screens to celebrate the achievements.
Filming the gripping tales of China's heroes
Ti Gong

The crew of the film “Chinese Pilot” pose for a photo in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa upon finishing.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. An array of mainstream movies will hit the screens to celebrate the achievements of the past seven decades. 

The success of “Wolf Warrior,” “Operation Red Sea” and “Operation Mekong” have changed people’s ideas about mainstream Chinese film, a genre once considered tedious and doctrinal.

These movies were both commercially successful and critically acclaimed for visually impelling scenes, good storytelling and emotions that resonate with ordinary people. 

Some stories were inspired by events in the news.

Li Youbin will star in a new anti-drug film this year. Li, who is a Major General in the PLA, is best known for the military TV drama “Showing the Sword.”

In a film provisionally entitled “Prohibition of Drugs,” Li will play a retired cop in southwestern China, who risks his life to fight drug trafficking together with narcotics officers. It is a story of justice, courage and loyalty. 

The action-packed feature will start shooting later this year. Producers said that they hope to arouse public awareness of the threat of drugs and provide a real insight into the work of narcotics officers. 

Attracted to the original novel and script, it will be the first time Li has starred in an anti-drug movie. He will work with many young actors, including Ding Yuchen, Han Yanbo and Zhao Xinyi.

“We will try to present an appealing mainstream movie with a good story and acting,” Li said.

Another highly anticipated mainstream film is “Chinese Pilot,” set for release on September 30.

The film recently completed shooting in Tibet. Starring Zhang Hanyu and Du Jiang, the film is based on the real experiences of Sichuan Airlines’ captain Liu Chuanjian, whose calm handling of an emergency landing on May 14 last year saved the lives of 119 passengers.

Liu was flying Airbus A319 from Chongqing to Lhasa when the windshield blew out. He struggled for around 20 minutes with a sudden loss of cabin pressure at 32,000 feet before landing safely in Chengdu.

According to director Andrew Lau, best known for “Infernal Affairs,” he was deeply moved by the captain’s strong sense of responsibility, bravery and devotion in face of crisis. 

The crew spent 30 million yuan (US$4.5 million) building a life-sized model of the plane. Hollywood veterans who produced some of the visual effects for the “Star Wars” series and “Captain America“ were invited to work on the movie.

The civil aviation authority was closely involved and the actors received training to accurately portray members of the flight crew.

Yu Dong, chairman of Bona Film Group — the film’s producer, said that it is the first homegrown film focused on civil aviation. He hopes that the film, an answer to the American drama “Sully,” will be released globally. 

Bona Film Group has produced a series of acclaimed mainstream films such as “Operation Red Sea,” “Operation Mekong” and “The Taking of Tiger Mountain.”

“It’s important to tell heroic stories through modern cinematography for today’s audience,” Yu said. 

Filming the gripping tales of China's heroes
Dong Jun / SHINE

Start of production on the anti-drug film “Prohibition of Drugs” was formally announced in Shanghai on April 9.

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