Veteran Hong Kong director Herman Yau has assembled a top-notch cast for “War Customised,” a high-octane action thriller that is one of the highest-profile commercial productions to emerge from the territory in the past couple of years.
The cast is headed by Jacky Cheung (“Private Eye Blues,” “Bullet in the Head”) and Nicholas Tse (“Raging Fire,” “Gen-X Cops”), along with Karena Lam (“Inner Senses,” “July Rhapsody”) and Francis Ng (“Infernal Affairs 2,” “Bullets over Summer”).
The supporting cast includes Liu Yase (“Limbo”), Michelle Wai (“Caught in Time,” “Triad”), Angus Yeung (“Raging Fire”), Melvin Wong (“Above the Law”), Ben Yuen (“Tracey,” “Anita”), Amanda Strang (“Final Romance”), and Brahim Chab (“Monkey Man,” “Vanguard,” “Ganopath”) as the villain of the piece.
Production, now underway, is by Emperor Motion Pictures, with principal Albert Yeung named as producer. Emperor is also handling international rights licensing.
The “War Customised” screenplay is by Erica Li (“Shock Wave 2,” “Empty Hands”). Plot details have been withheld.
In addition to playing the lead, Tse will also act as the film’s action choreographer.
Yau is a veteran of the action, martial arts and comedy genres with credits including “Shock Wave” and “Shock Wave 2,” “The White Storm 1 and 2,” “Ip Man: The Final Fight” and “All’s Well, Ends Well 2010.”
The Hong Kong film industry has been in the doldrums for much of the past two years. The pandemic and the territory’s strict ‘zero-COVID’ response to the disease has severely limited production and cross-border travel. Cinemas, shuttered for long periods in 2020 and 2021, have again been closed throughout almost all of this year as the city endures by far its biggest coronavirus outbreak.
The heavy-handed disease control measures have added to other pressures on the industry. These include the draining of talent and film finance across the border to films that address the vastly larger mainland China market, as well as Hong Kong’s own particular set of political problems.
After the squashing of the pro-democracy protests that flared up and turned violent in the second half of 2019, a Beijing-imposed National Security Law has changed many aspects of Hong Kong society, ranging from education to elections and entertainment. This has caused cinemas to withdraw certain films from release, the passing of a film censorship law that specifically includes security concerns, and the self-imposed exile of some filmmakers and talent.