HONG KONG — Mabel Cheung isn’t the only director to find inspiration in suffering. And in a way, her new project, “Beijing Rocks,” is the perfect pic to help augur the revival of Media Asia, coming off its own season of anguish — a year in which it released just one film.
Now, with a slate of pics that includes Jackie Chan’s first feature for the company to be released late next year — Chan will also take a seat on the company’s board — Media Asia is primed to break out of its doldrums.
Also in the pipeline is a $6.5 million English-language action comedy now in pre-production with Leslie Cheung (“Farewell My Concubine”) set to star. And local megastar Andy Lau headlines a $2.5 million romantic comedy about ballroom dancing set for an end-of-year release.
And then there’s “Bejing Rocks,” developed by former Media Asia CEO Thomas Chung, who earlier this year left the company under strained circumstances, soon after Hong Kong conglom eSun increased its stake.
Filmmaker Cheung was inspired to write the pic after spending months and months listening to underground rock bands in between arguing with Chinese censors over the ending of her historical epic “The Soong Sisters.”While the pic’s arthouse leanings raise questions about whether similar films would fit into Media Asia’s entertainment-heavy slate for 2002, eSun topper Peter Lam is happy to have the added heft this year.
Co-written by Cheung and Alex Law, and lensed by Oscar-winning cinematographer Peter Pau, pic tells the story of a love triangle between a rock singer (played by new Chinese talent Gang Le), his girlfriend (Taiwanese actress Shu Qi) and a spoiled Hong Kong musician (Hong Kong rising star Daniel Wu) living in Beijing on his father’s money.
Wu’s character joins the band as it embarks on a tour members hope will lead to stardom.
The pic, which opened in Hong Kong Oct. 25, shows a gritty side to Beijing that will surprise viewers more accustomed to the political capital’s ancient palaces and temples.
“There’s a new generation of people in Beijing now,” Cheung says.
One might say the same thing about Media Asia.