“The Deer and the Cauldron,” one of the best-known martial arts novel series, is to be reborn as a major feature film franchise. Hong Kong’s Pang Ho-cheung (“Love in a Puff,” “Isabella”) is to produce and direct.
Pang plans to shoot three movies, back to back, each with a budget of $80 million. Production begins in mid-2019, with a 2021 theatrical date for the first film.
Production will be through Pang’s own Making Film. International sales and finance are being organized through mainland Chinese-backed Hong Kong entertainment conglomerate Bravos Pictures. Bravos is introducing the franchise at the European Film market. The male lead in the novels, Wei Xiaobao, is a charming and mischievous hero rather than a wu xia martial arts champion; an actor for that role has not yet been announced.
Set in the Qing Dynasty era, and ranging widely in a fashion comparable to “Harry Potter” or the “Game of Thrones” series, the books were written some 70 years ago by Louis Cha (aka Jin Rong), the father of the wu xia chivalric martial arts literary genre, who died last year. Cha’s novels have been previously adapted by Stephen Chow and others, and were shot as a Hong Kong TV series more than 20 years ago.
Pang is one of the most talented and most idiosyncratic directors to have emerged from Hong Kong in recent years, with first-rate conventional skills, but often working in a cutting-edge indie fashion. He was also one of the first Hong Kong filmmakers in the modern era to set up his own outfit in Beijing. “The Deer and the Cauldron” will be his first period production.