It’s getting hard to keep up with all the new Asian action releases these days. Here are three upcoming films that are on my radar, for various reasons. The one common thread is that they all involve gangsters and martial arts.
First up is the much-talked-about Donnie Yen vehicle SPECIAL IDENTITY. This one was in the news for all the wrong reasons, as a feud between Yen and former co-star Vincent Zhao blew up into an online brawl. With Zhao off the project and Andy On, Collin Chou, and Ken Lo signed on as replacements, this one promises gritty action in a contemporary setting (rumor is that Yen plays an undercover cop). Shooting has wrapped and the film is tentatively slated for release later this year. Look for an interview with action choreographer John Salvitti here soon!
Next is one that almost slipped past me. KING OF THE STREETS is opening in China on Friday (July 27). It’s written and directed by Yue Song, a martial artist who also stars in this tale of a young man who seeks revenge for his parents’ death at the hands of a local gang. For a debut effort, the trailer looks pretty promising. (Sorry, I haven’t been able to find a subbed trailer.)
Finally, that teaser trailer for ONCE UPON A TIME IN SHANGHAI that channels the old Shaw Brothers kung fu movies of the 70s? Yes, please, I want to see more. The film is based on what is probably the ur-story of Chinese gangsters and martial arts, “Shandong Ma Yongzhen.” The first film about Ma Yongzhen, a boxer from Shandong province who runs afoul of a Shanghai gang, was made in Shanghai in 1927. Chang Cheh’s version, THE BOXER FROM SHANTUNG, starred Chen Kuan-tai and was made for the Shaw studio in 1972. Corey Yuen remade the story as HERO in 1997, with Takeshi Kaneshiro and Yuen Biao. Yuen Woo-ping is the action director on the new one, and Philip Ng, another relative newcomer, steps into the role of Ma Yongzhen. Sammo Hung is also in the cast. No word yet on a release date.
Andy On • Collin Chou • Donnie Yen • Ken Lo • Philip Ng • Sammo Hung • Yue Song • Yuen Woo-ping