Tony Leung Chiu-wai will follow up his turn as the controversial patriarch Wenwu in “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” with a lead role in Bona Film Group’s next patriotic juggernaut: the World War II-era spy thriller “Anonymous,” which just wrapped shooting this week.
The movie is the third installment of Bona’s “China Victory Trilogy,” a series intended as “a gift to the Communist Party for its centenary,” given that this year marks its 100th anniversary. Post-production is currently underway and an August 2022 release date is expected. It was first announced in June at the Shanghai International Film Festival.
The first pic in the trilogy is “Chinese Doctors,” which celebrates China overcoming COVID-19 in the early days of the pandemic. It grossed $197 million starting in July. The second film, Korean war saga “The Battle at Lake Changjin,” is the highest-grossing movie in the world this year and China’s top performing title of all time. It debuted on Sept. 30 and is still in local theaters, where it has grossed $904 million (RMB576 billion) so far.
Confusingly, “Lake Changjin” itself has a sequel called “Water Gate Bridge” that is not itself part of the “Victory” trilogy. It is also expected next year.
“Anonymous” will star Leung alongside Wang Yibo, Zhou Xun, and Wang Chuanjun. It is written and directed by Cheng Er, best known as the helmer of the thrillers “Lethal Hostage” (2012) and “The Wasted Times” (2016).
More than 90% of people who have indicated they want to watch the film on the platform Maoyan so far are women.
The production released stylized black-and-white photos of Leung skulking through set in a dapper suit reminiscent of his iconic appearance in Wong Kar-wai’s “In the Mood for Love.”
This time, however, he’ll be in the mood for patriotism, as the film series is intended as an ode to the progress China has made under the Communist Party’s leadership.
The story is set between November 1937 and August 1945, beginning the day after Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor, when the Wang Jingwei regime — the government of Japan’s puppet state in eastern China — also declared war on Britain and the U.S., and symbolically occupied Shanghai.
“With the full-scale outbreak of the Pacific War, the situation for China’s war of resistance was therefore completely changed,” the production says, stating the film “tells the story of underground workers who risked their lives and hot blood to send intelligence and defend the motherland.”
“Shang-Chi” was never released in China, in large part due to the racist history behind Tony Leung’s character Wenwu in the original comics, which was not repeated in the film. It grossed $432 million worldwide from other territories.