Traces of life in Hong Kong, with all that it was before the pandemic, began to reappear in February. The steady easing into the “new normal” saw cinemas reopen and moviegoers have slowly gained confidence in returning to theaters, resulting in healthy grosses for both foreign and local films.
Genre films, such as action and horror-thrillers, offer modest budgets and quick production turnaround — and they’re the Hong Kong film industry’s most popular exports. So it’s no surprise the industry has seen a substantial surge in the number of movies produced in these two categories. As a result, this year’s online American Film Market, which runs Nov. 1-5, will see Hong Kong film companies showcasing thrilling genres to potential buyers.
Grace Chan, distribution manager of Entertaining Power, says the AFM is the ideal timing to launch their 2022 slate.
“We estimate audiences to return to cinemas during the holidays at the end of the year,” says Chan, “so it’s a good time to share our updated lineup at AFM. While film sales are growing positively, it is still under our estimation.”
Cracking open a bottle of movie thrills will be Media Asia’s “Tales from the Occult,” a horror omnibus consisting of three short films about the terrors hiding in Hong Kong’s darkest places. The spine-chilling series, currently in postproduction, is co-produced by Mathew Tang, who also produced the “Tales from the Dark” omnibus series for Edko Films. Fruit Chan’s “The Mall” follows a social media influencer through a newly renovated yet highly haunted shopping mall that has a bone-shaking history. The thrills continue in “The Tenement” by Fung Chih-chiang when residents of an old residential building band together to face a creature that lurks in their stairwell. In Wesley Hoi’s “The Chink,” a young singer experiences resurfacing trauma from witnessing the death of a man in her youth.
Producer Tang is already working on a second “Tales from the Occult” installment, this time featuring three short films by young up-and-coming filmmakers. The project recently obtained funding support from the Hong Kong government’s Film Development Fund.
On the slate of local production powerhouse Emperor Motion Pictures is “Social Distancing,” a horror film inspired by the invasive nature of mobile devices in our everyday lives. Gladys Li, the star of EMP’s 2020 Lunar New Year romantic comedy “You Are the One,” portrays a content creator who is stalked by a sinister and relentless “e-ghost.” “Social Distancing” is director Gilitte Leung’s second feature film, with her first being 2012’s “Love Me Not.”
“Through the perspective of a 24-year-old phone-obsessed woman, I’m employing the style of a suspenseful horror to explore the thesis that our everyday lives are being affected by our overreliance on technology,” Leung said in her director’s statement.
Headlining Entertaining Power’s market slate is “To Be Faced.” The action thriller is the latest film by Danny Pang, who co-directed horror blockbusters including “The Eye” with his twin brother, Oxide, and also made solo efforts such as “Seven 2 One” and “Fairy Tale Killer.” “To Be Faced” follows a deadly conflict in the gaming world between the police’s anti-triad squad, gaming authorities and the masterminds of illegal gambling operations.
Currently in postproduction, “To Be Faced” stars Francis Ng (“Drifting,” “Line Walker”), Wallace Chung (“Drug War,” “Liberation”), character actor Eddie Cheung “Dynasty Warriors”) and Myolie Wu (“Life Without Principle”).
Aside from suspense and horror pictures, One Cool Pictures will also showcase “Back to the Past,” a big-budget blockbuster. The action movie is a highly anticipated follow-up to the TV series. In addition, Mandarin Motion Pictures presents “G Storm,” the fifth and final film of the hit anti-corruption film series. Meanwhile, Universe Films will cling onto the thrills but is action-packed at heart with its firefighting film, “Flashover.”
Mega-Vision Pictures’ “New Kung Fu Cult Master,” a martial arts fantasy set in the universe of Louis Cha’s ultra-popular wuxia novels, stars Louis Koo, Donnie Yen and Raymond Lam. Last but not least, Edko Films’ “Table for Six,” a Lunar New Year ensemble comedy by writer-director Sunny Chan will star local icon Dayo Wong.
Each of these Hong Kong companies, and other major Asian sales companies, are scheduled to present their latest films March 14-17, 2022, at Hong Kong’s FILMART. Earlier this year, FILMART welcomed 8,000 online participants from 81 countries and regions along with 677 exhibitors from 46 countries and regions. It provided a platform for the promotion of over 2,100 film and TV productions.