×

Venice: Top Director Feng Xiaogang to Entertain as Star of Closing Film ‘Mr Six’

Feng Xiaogang, consistently China’s most successful director, has taken on acting roles before, mostly bit parts and secondary characters. But appearing in the title role of Venice festival’s closing film “Mr. Six” was a definite step up.

The film’s director, Guan Hu, and producer, Wang Zhonglei, admit to almost tricking Feng into the role.

Guan and Huayi Brothers Media asked Feng to appraise the script for the company, without revealing that their real motive for showing him the screenplay was to try to get him to buy in as the lead.

Feng says he found himself unable to put it down. “You seldom get to see a story like this… a story about the good old days and values that transcends time and space,” Feng said.

The film is an admittedly old-fashioned tale about a former gang leader, now in his 50s and out of condition, who is forced to rouse himself when his son is kidnapped by a bunch of younger hoodlums. Mr. Six responds by rounding up some of his old gang pals.

The resulting conflict is not so much gang on gang, but old versus new, with an emphasis on taking viewers down memory lane – literally. Much of the picture is set in Beijing’s hutongs or narrow alleyways that typified northern Chinese towns before so many were torn down to make way for more modern, less communal, developments.

The picture is also a vehicle for two generations of Chinese actors to share the screen. Feng lines up with actress Xu Qing, whose range stretched from Chen Kaige’s “Life on a String” to “Looper,” in which she played Bruce Willis’ wife, and Zhang Hanyu. One of China’s best actors, Zhang has appeared in several of Feng’s films and came of age in his “Assembly,” before starring in Guan’s “The Chef, the Actor, the Scoundrel,” and Tsui Hark’s recent smash “The Taking of Tiger Mountain.”

They are ranged against a younger collection of actors including Canadian-Chinese K-pop music idol Kris Wu, Li Yifeng, who parlayed appearances on Chinese TV reality shows into a string of hit sitcom roles, and Liu Hua, who broke out in Ning Hao’s “Crazy Stone” before also adding the recent hit “The Monkey King.”

The action drama is expected to make for an entertaining closer to the Venice festival. In China, the feel-good factor also positions the film as one of the highlights of the box office critical end of the year period. Huayi has booked “Mr. Six” to unwrap on Christmas Eve.

More Film

  • A-Beautiful-Day-in-the-Neighborhood-Trailer

    Tom Hanks Channels Mister Rogers in 'Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood' Trailer

    It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood because Sony debuted the first trailer for its Mister Rogers movie starring Tom Hanks. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is inspired by a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers (Hanks) and Tom Junod (Matthew Rhys), a cynical journalist assigned to write a profile of the long-running television host. [...]

  • For web story

    'The Burnt Orange Heresy,' With Mick Jagger and Donald Sutherland, to Close Venice

    “The Burnt Orange Heresy,” starring Mick Jagger as a reclusive art dealer alongside Elizabeth Debicki (“Widows”), Claes Bang (“The Square”) and Donald Sutherland, has been selected as the Venice Film Festival closer.  The English-language art heist movie marks Italian director Giuseppe Capotondi’s first time back at Venice since 2009, when his debut feature film, the [...]

  • A woman prays at a makeshift

    Kyoto Animation Death Toll Rises to 34; Suspect Still Too Injured to Be Questioned

    Shinji Aoba, the man suspected of setting a fire that killed 34 people at the Kyoto Animation studio, remains hospitalized and too injured to be officially arrested and questioned. Police in Kyoto have obtained an arrest warrant for Aoba but cannot serve it because of his condition. Police sources have raised the death toll from [...]

  • Azania Muendane

    Locations Africa Expo Sends Message in Durban: ‘Africa is Ready’

    DURBAN–The first edition of the Locations Africa Expo and Conference was held this week during the Durban FilmMart, with an eye toward identifying and growing the opportunities to lure incoming productions to the continent. “Locations Africa is trying to service a need on the continent to discuss the physical production…on the ground, highlighting film commissions, [...]

  • The Lion King

    China Box Office: 'Looking Up' Is Surprise Weekend Winner Ahead of 'Lion King'

    Actor and comedian Deng Chao underlined his enduring popularity with mainstream Chinese audiences by delivering a surprise No. 1 box-office hit in “Looking Up” over the weekend. It scored $38.6 million in its opening frame, according to data from consultancy Artisan Gateway, and displaced “The Lion King” from its perch. “Looking Up” is a family [...]

  • Unathi Malonga

    Report Urges South African Media to ‘Step Up’ Against Gender Violence

    DURBAN–In a country with some of the highest rates of sexual and gender-based violence in the world, South African media must step up and play a greater role in the fight against gender inequality and gender-based violence. That was the conclusion of a report, “Gender, Diversity and Gender-based Violence in South African TV,” that was [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content