An explosive action film based on true events in 1993, depicting a cross-border crime wave committed on a Beijing-Moscow train, attracted great attention during the 25th Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF).
Cast and crew of "Moscow Mission" pose for a group photo at a promotional event during the 25th Shanghai International Film Festival (SIFF) in Shanghai, June 10, 2023. [Photo courtesy of MicroEnt]
"Moscow Mission," directed by Herman Yau and starring Zhang Hanyu, Huang Xuan, Janice Man, and superstar Andy Lau, recounts a cross-border manhunt after criminals from several gangs conspired and committed robbery and rape on a Moscow-bound train from Beijing. Andy Lau and veteran filmmaker Han Sanping served as executive producers.
Veteran actor Zhang Hanyu plays a police detective who disguises himself as a businessman to enter Russia and apprehend a criminal for extradition to China. Zhang described the character as a 'hardcore veteran' because, in the early 1990s, police officers relied on experience, wisdom, perseverance, and social relationships to solve cases, unlike the high-tech assistance available today.
It's the fourth time Zhang and Andy Lau have collaborated, with Lau's character remaining a tight-lipped character in the film. Lau was absent from the SIFF event due to a scheduling conflict, but Zhang joked that in the movie, Lau is like "Super Mario" because "he's always crawling through underground pipes, digging and digging."
Meanwhile, actor Huang Xuan takes on a villain role for the first time on the big screen, portraying the leader of a group of robbers. He described the character as a "criminal-artist" whose elegant disguise cannot hide his cruel and ruthless nature.
The confrontation in "Moscow Mission" is not only between the police and the robbers but also involves various other forces. As the story of "Moscow Mission" takes place in the 1990s and is based on a real case, the creative team researched massive amounts of information to ensure the authenticity of the details, taking into account factors such as the time period and cross-border elements.
Director Herman Yau recalled how sensational this case was when it happened in 1993. He extensively researched the case to prepare for making this movie, which made him almost an expert on the topic. He hopes to achieve more breakthroughs in creating this thriller and capture the social context and people's lives of that time.
Yau revealed that there are many explosive and bombastic scenes in the film and hopes that the audience enjoys them. "Many scenes in the movie were something I never thought I'd have the opportunity to shoot before. As a movie fan myself, these scenes are unprecedented in my experience, so I was very excited to have the chance to shoot them."
Executive producer Han Sanping noted that "Moscow Mission" is not an ordinary crime film but a top-tier Chinese action blockbuster that represents the highest level of industrialization in Chinese cinema.
Catherine Ying, the president of CMC Pictures and co-producer, added that the film is a "triple feast" of visuals, fashion, and humanity. She mentioned that many heart-wrenching scenes, like the underground water palace and rocket base, were reconstructed based on historical materials. The film also features a variety of intriguing stories, set in places like the underground casino and the Bolshoi Theatre, where both sides of the conflict have a rich human depth to explore, despite being divided into good and evil camps, she added.
The movie adaptation of "Moscow Mission" will be released later this year. The shocking case had previously inspired a separate and critically-acclaimed TV drama directed by Zhang Rui back in 2018.