Actor Xiao Zhan, actresses Li Qin and Meng Meiqi pose with "fantasy weapons" on stage for photos at the premiere of the film "Jade Dynasty" in Beijing, Sept. 10, 2019. [Photo/ VCG]
Chinese martial arts fantasy film "Jade Dynasty" features a stellar cast and one of the best martial arts directors to recreate the magnificent fantasy world based on a hugely popular novel.
The film is adapted from the novel "Zhu Xian" by Xiao Ding and directed by famous Hong Kong director and action choreographer Ching Siu-tung, known for classic "A Chinese Ghost Story" and "The Swordsman," and regarded as a poetic martial arts film trailblazer.
The film tells the story of Zhang Xiaofan, born in Grass Temple village, who witnesses a massacre in his village when he is 11 years old. Because of this miserable disaster, Qing Yun Faction decides to take him in. Zhang Xiaofan learns martial arts from three masters and became a master of the mythical realm, while at the same time, experiences a complicated relationship with two beautiful girls.
"More than a decade ago, a friend told me that the novel 'Zhu Xian' fits my style, so directing this film became a sort of like an experiment and a learning experience for me," Ching said at the premiere of the film in Beijing on Tuesday.
The original writer also showed up at the premiere, expressed his happiness to see his book became a big-screen motion picture. "I saw many of Ching's films when I was young, so it is my honor that he can direct the film, and I'm grateful that all the cast and crew injected new vitality into the project."
Xiao Ding began writing "Zhu Xian" in 2001. The novel was first published online and in Taiwan in 2003. In 2005, it was published on the Chinese mainland, topping bestseller lists all over China and attracting tens of millions of fans. The book series concluded in 2007 while it then became an even hotter franchise by developing into a popular online game that year and then a TV series titled "Noble Aspirations" in 2016.
A poster of "Jade Dynasty" [Image courtesy of Preworld]
Xiao, whose real name is Zhang Jian, is the earliest pioneer in online literature while helping enhance the genre of xianxia, a martial arts hero genre mixed with fantasy elements including magic, demons, ghosts and immortals. He has inspired generations of young writers and has a loyal fan base.
The film "Jade Dynasty" will be the first installment of an ambitious film franchise developed by New Classics Media. The film will star popular young actors and actresses - Xiao Zhan, Li Qin, Meng Meiqi and Tang Yixin.
Xiao Zhan is a Chinese actor and singer and a member of the male idol group X NINE. He received recognition for his roles in the dramas "Oh! My Emperor" (2018) and "The Untamed" (2019) and has close to 18 million fans on Sina Weibo.
Li Qin is known for her roles in "The Dream of Red Mansions" (2010), "White Deer Plain" (2017) and "Princess Agents" (2017), and has 21.2 million followers on Sina Weibo.
Meng Meiqi is a popular singer, teen idol and a member of the girl group Rocket Girls 101 after finishing first in the girl group survival music show Produce 101 in 2018. She has 23.35 million fans on Sina Weibo.
Tang Yixin rose to fame when she starred in "Empresses in the Palace" (2011) and "The Advisors Alliance" (2017) and in the TV series "Noble Aspirations" (2016), an early adaptation of "Zhu Xian." She will reprise the same role in "Jade Dynasty." She has 15.26 million fans on Sina Weibo.
The statistics of their followers on the social network platform are staggering, which is why the film now leads box office sales for the Mid-Autumn Day film season, pre-selling more than 20 million yuan ($2.81 million) in tickets by Wednesday, two days before its debut on Sept. 13.
"Jade Dynasty" will likely become a crucial film to evaluate if the stardom on social networks of the new generation of young idols can be translated into box office revenue.
But these actors are not just pretty faces, said director Ching. "They are awesome! Their passions for the roles and their work ethic impressed me. I appreciate their trust in me when I asked them to do a lot of hard and risky stunts - in the real environment; no green screen."
Actor Xiao Zhan at the premiere of the film "Jade Dynasty" in Beijing, Sept. 10, 2019. [Photo courtesy of Preworld]
Actress Li Qin at the premiere of the film "Jade Dynasty" in Beijing, Sept. 10, 2019. [Photo courtesy of Preworld]
Singer and actress Meng Meiqi at the premiere of the film "Jade Dynasty" in Beijing, Sept. 10, 2019. [Photo courtesy of Preworld]
Director Ching Siu-tung at the premiere of the film "Jade Dynasty" in Beijing, Sept. 10, 2019. [Photo courtesy of Preworld]
Writer Xiao Ding at the premiere of the film "Jade Dynasty" in Beijing, Sept. 10, 2019. [Photo courtesy of Preworld]
Cast and crew pose for photos at the premiere of the film "Jade Dynasty" in Beijing, Sept. 10, 2019. [Photo courtesy of Preworld]