The Feast at Hong Gate is one of the iconic events in Chinese history, a meeting between two warring generals fighting for control of ancient China. And now it is to be the subject of four major movie and TV projects in China.
The legendary banquet took place at the end of the Qin dynasty around 206 BCE, when general Xiang Yu invited his long-time mentor Liu Bang to a banquet with the intention of assassinating him. A Feast at Hong Gate has become a Chinese expression for an invitation to a meal that is a trap or has sinister implications.
It is a characteristic of Chinese cinema that often there will be a flurry of pics at the same time dealing with the same subjects. There are any number of projects looking at the Monkey King legend right now, and both Chen Kaige and Zhang Yimou made movies about the Qin emperor, with “The Emperor and the Assassin” and “Hero” respectively.
A couple of years ago there were several projects dealing with Japanese atrocities in Nanjing in 1937, including “City of Life and Death” by helmer Lu Chuan, who has just started lensing his take on the story, the $15 million epic “The Last Supper,” with Liu Ye, who will shortly feature as Chairman Mao Zedong in the propaganda epic, “The Founding of a Party,” and Daniel Wu, as well as Taiwanese thesp Chang Chen.
Pic is produced by Lu’s own production company in collaboration with China Film Group and the Stellar Megamedia Group.
The three previously collaborated on “City of Life and Death,” which grossed over $24 million B.O. in China in 2009, amid great controversy over its account of the Rape of Nanjing in 1937. This marks Lu’s fourth collaboration with Han Sanping, chairman of China Film Group.
Daniel Lee has started shooting the $23 million treatment of the theme, which is currently called both “White Vengeance” and “Banquet at Hongmen.” Coin is from Starlight Intl., and pic features Leon Lai, Zhang Hanyu, Anthony Wong Chau-Sang and Jordan Chan.
Starlight rep Li Xiaoli said that the shingle had originally collaborated with Lu Chuan during development for the project, but the link-up hadn’t worked out.
A third project, which so far bears the names of the two generals, “Liu Bang and Xiang Yu,” is mentioned on the website of the State Administration of Radio, Film and TV, which says that it has been given approval.
A spokeswoman for the producers, Beijing Xinchaoyue Advertising, said the project was still at the scripting stage.
The SARFT website also lists an animation series called “King of Western Chu,” which deals with the period of history and is shooting 100 episodes. The Xiamen Mantuoling Culture Co. is behind this project.
There have been other treatments of the story — a 2005 Hong Kong movie “Banquet at Hongmen” featured Mainland Wu Jun and Hong Kong’s Kristy Yang and was directed by Wong Wai-Ming and Lin Luo-Ping.