The feature has recently wrapped production and is scheduled to be released on Dec. 31 in time for what is normally a peak cinemagoing period in China and elsewhere.
Asian films are currently struggling to achieve pre-sales in international markets, but “Ride On” could be an exception. Chan is reliably bankable in action and comedy films, with appeal in Asia, overseas diaspora territories and European TV, streaming and home entertainment markets.
“Ride On” is directed by one of China’s most bankable filmmakers, Larry Yang. Yang previously pleased critics with his 2015 rural drama “Mountain Cry” and then earned over $100 million at the box office with 2019 title “Adoring,” about six couples and their pets.
In “Ride On,” Chan stars as a washed-up stuntman who can barely make ends meet, let alone take care of his beloved stunt horse, Red Hare. The man reluctantly seeks help from his estranged daughter and her lawyer boyfriend when notified that the horse may be auctioned off to cover his debts. Unexpectedly, the stuntman and the horse become overnight media sensations when their real-life fight with debt collectors goes viral. That earns the stuntman a second chance to choose between his movie career and his family.
The film also stars Liu Haocun, arguably China’s biggest breakout star of the past two years, following her roles in Zhang Yimou’s “Cliff Walkers” and 2020 smash hit “A Little Red Flower,” and Kevin Guo (aka Guo Qilin). Guo is a second-generation comedian who stood out as a delivery boy who saves an abandoned canine from dog-catchers in Yang’s “Adoring.”
Production is by Victoria Hon, Yang Hai, Yuan Nong, and Belle Lau. “Ride On” is a joint production between Alibaba Pictures, Hairun Pictures and Hengdian Film.
“Ride On” is the latest Chan film handled by Golden Network Asia and Hairun Pictures. Golden Network has previously represented “Vanguard,” “Kung Fu Yoga,” “Railroad Tigers,” and “Dragon Blade.” The company cannot attend Cannes in person, due to current travel restrictions, but it expects that “Ride On” will be one of the most saleable Asian commercial titles in the market this year. Company executives will be handling sales remotely for now.
“Ride On” pays homage to some of Chan’s most iconic roles from Chinese-language films including “Drunken Master,” “Armour of God II” and “Police Story.” The producers say that the film is seeded with multiple Easter eggs.
Chan says the stunt man role is familiar and fun. “In the heyday of kung fu movies, you fought for real, you risked your life by really racing a fast car and really riding a wild horse. The spirit was passed on from one generation to the next,” he said.