Variety's surveys the new crop of films
Huang Xiaoming, pic gets the gala treatment in the Hong Kong Intl. Film Festival. Edko (Hong Kong) One of the most powerful production, distribution and exhibition forces in Asia, Edko last year set out its stall as sales agent. Product is largely sourced from “Crouching Tiger” producer Bill Kong and Edko’s production fund. Key title: “Blood the Last Vampire” French action helmer Chris Nahon teams with Asian action director Corey Yuen to deliver vampire-slaying tale, with Korean star Gianna Jun (“My Sassy Girl”) saving the world. Motif+ (Thailand) New sales company formed under the banner of Thai producer and sales agent Mono Generation (formerly Mono Film). Key title: “Happy Birthday.” Starring Thailand’s top leading man, Ananda Everingham, “Happy Birthday” is a romantic drama about pen pals who meet, fall in love and then are tragically separated. NTV (Japan) A giant in Japanese broadcasting and studio groups, NTV has carved out a nice film business with TV spinoffs and manga adaptations, including last year’s blockbuster “20th Century Boys.” Key title: “MW” Revisitation of a 30-year-old manga by master Osama Tezuka, “MW” is a suspenser about two men, destiny and the excesses of technology. Infotainment (China) A rare Chinese indie sales company, Infotainment is emerging as a smart and durable player at markets and is next seeking to beef up its role as Chinese co-producer for inbound foreign pictures Key title: “Kungfu Cyborg” China’s answer to “Transformers,” pic is a big, f/x-laden title produced by LeTV on a $10 million budget and aimed firmly at the Chinese youth that lapped up the last robot film to be released in China. Golden Network (Hong Kong) Golden Network has for years existed on its wits as a specialist sales house with a strong accent on discovery titles. After a successful Berlin market, Golden Network’s current slate reflects the links it has nurtured with producers in Thailand, China, Korea and, increasingly, in animation. Key title: “Fireball” Action drama helmed by Thanakorn Pongsuwan sees an ex-con infiltrate the underground world of “combat basketball” to discover how his twin brother ended up in a coma. Pic is now on course for sequel and remake treatment and will be released in North America by Grindstone through Lionsgate. Fortissimo Films (Hong Kong-Amsterdam) Indie sales house can take credit for championing Asian arthouse pics at festivals and through distributors around the world for more than a decade. Company has significantly broadened its mandate with documentaries, world cinema and titles from bigger-name helmers. Key product: “Face” Maverick Taiwanese helmer Tsai Ming-liang returns to France with a fantasy drama about a foreign filmmaker struggling against linguistic barriers and the ego and mental health problems of his superstar cast. Tsai’s glitzy talent lineup includes Jean-Pierre Leaud, Laetitia Casta, Jeanne Moreau, Mathieu Almaric and Fanny Ardant.