What Chinese Films to See in New York This Week

Here are the films the editors of China Film Insider are looking forward to see this week in New York.

Photo: Courtesy of Rooftop Films.

1. Have a Nice Day, director Liu Jian
After being pressured by Chinese officials, the French animated film festival Annecy dropped the black comedy film Have a Nice Day from its roster. The film, by Chinese director Liu Jian, follows a set of characters chasing a bag of money in a small Chinese town, and gives you a look into the underworld of Southern China.

“We’re disappointed about the official pressures that have prevented us from presenting this remarkable film this year,” said a statement on the festival’s site, “and we hope that international audiences will soon have the possibility to see it.” While the film has gotten picked up by US distributor Strand Releasing (which will release it in the fall), this is your chance to get a preview in the very special setting of the Rooftop Films 2017 Summer Series. This screening will be introduced by CFI’s own critic Jonathan Landreth.

Have a Nice Day will be screened Saturday August 12 at Rooftop Films 2017 Summer Series at the New Design High School, 350 Grand Street. Doors open at 7:30, live music begins at 8:00pm, and the film begins at 8:30pm. You can also check out the after party at DCTV at 10:00pm. Get tickets here.

Still from ‘Have a Nice Day.’ Photo: Still from Youtube.

2. Wolf Warrior II, director Jacky Wu
America, meet Leng Feng (冷锋), China’s answer to Hollywood’s greatest action heroes. Played by martial artist Jacky Wu (吴京), who has consciously studied his action film lexicon, Leng is an amalgamation of the types of individuals global audiences have come to expect from their male action heroes. He’s got the killer combat instinct of Rambo, the individualistic, maverick spirit of Die Hard‘s John McClaine, and the staunch patriotism of 24‘s Jack Bauer.

And it’s this flip of the well-worn Hollywood action film script that had Chinese audiences flocking to cinemas in record numbers this weekend. After four hours of advanced screenings Thursday evening racked up RMB 100 million* ($14.9 million) in ticket sales, phenomenal word of mouth quickly made its way to the social media-obsessed masses and by the end of Sunday, Wolf Warriors II (战狼2) had earned RMB 921 million* ($136.7 million).

– Jonathan Papish, Read CFI’s write-up of its Box Office performance here.

Wolf Warrior II is screening daily through Wednesday August 9 at AMC Empire 25, 234 W. 42nd Street.

3. Once Upon a Time, director Zhao Xiaoding, Anthony LaMolinara, Lin YuFen
Based on the popular romantic-fantasy novel To the Sky Kingdom, which itself was adapted into the even more popular television series Eternal Lovethe generically-translated Once Upon a Time is the exact type of film teenaged Chinese girls swoon over: a pair of young romantic leads — “Little Fresh Meat” Yang Yang (杨洋) as the Crown Prince of Heaven and Liu Yifei (刘亦菲) as the mortal he dares to fall in love with — overcome selective amnesia, jealous concubines, and hundreds of thousands of years spanning the immortal and mortal worlds to rediscover they were indeed destined for each other all along.

In fact, according to data from box office tracker Maoyan, females accounted for 65% of Once Upon a Time’s audience on its opening Thursday and 70% were under the age of 30. (On a personal note, I was one of only four males in a sold-out 126-seat Wanda auditorium in a fourth-tier Chinese city).

– Jonathan Papish, Read CFI’s write-up here.

Once Upon a Time is screening daily beginning Friday August 11  at AMC Empire 25, 234 W. 42nd Street.