Feature: The Great Wall, and 4 of the biggest Chinese movies ever

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Originally published on The National Student on 17/02/17. 

With China’s mega-money, Matt Damon-starring blockbuster The Great Wall landing today, we look back at some of the country’s other big releases. 

A co-production between the Asian superpower and the U.S.’s Legendary Entertainment, The Great Wall is the biggest film to ever be shot entirely in China, with a price-tag clocking in at a whopping $160 million. And with Chinese audiences already responding hugely back in December, now it’s the West’s turn to face the progressive behemoth of blockbuster filmmaking. 

But it’s also worth noting that The Great Wall isn’t the only huge release from the Far East, and with the Chinese box office quickly becoming one of the world’s most important markets to crack (Warcraft and Pacific Rim both earned sequels off of their performances there alone), you can bet your lucky stars that it won’t be the last either. 

So without much further ado, here’s a whole bunch of other enormous Chinese-lead productions  that definitely deserve a look. 

Hero 

Another huge-scale production from Great Wall director Zhang Yimou (who also lead the similarly awards-hungry House of Flying Daggers), Hero became known thanks to a worthy endorsement from none other than Quentin Tarantino, and went on to make big bucks all over the place. 

Starring Jet Li and based around an assassination attempt on the King of Qin in 227BC, it’s a martial arts movie through and through, but one driven by the likes of wuxia, making it a superhero effort of sorts too. However you classify it though, Hero remains one of the most visually impressive movies ever, whole world included, so it’s certainly worth a watch. 

The Mermaid 

Written and directed by Kung Fu Hustle’s Stephen Chow, The Mermaid is actually the current highest grossing movie ever in China, beating out not only The Great Wall but also the Hollywood likes of Star Wars and, oddly, Furious 7

As usual with Chow, it’s a bit of a weird one too: the story of a businessman who falls for a bloodthirsty assassin sent to kill him, who also happens to be a mermaid. Pegged as a sci-fi, fantasy, rom-com crossbreed, colour us firmly intrigued. 

Skiptrace 

Another recent one, this time starring Asian superstar (and martial arts legend) Jackie Chan, Skiptrace can actually be found on Netflix and comes from Die Hard 2 and Legend of Hercules director Renny Harlin. 

A buddy movie through and through in the vein of Chan’s hit Rush Hour series, and co-starring Johnny Knoxville of Jackass fame, western critics might not have been overly fond of it, but Skiptrace has made mega money abroad. Certainly one to pay attention to in the ongoing blurred boundaries between the Chinese and America production practises that’s for sure. 

Dragon Blade

Finally, and arguably the oddest of the bunch but another trendsetter nonetheless, Daniel Lee’s Dragon Blade is another that made it to western shores off of the back of its huge blockbuster budget.

A sprawling action drama set during the Han Dynasty and starring again, Jackie Chan, as well as notable Hollywood talent including John Cusack and Adrien Brody, this one even got the IMAX 3D treatment which helped lap up some rather insane box office returns. Anyone confused by Matt Damon’s role in The Great Wall, Dragon Blade is another fascinating place to do some research. 

The Great Wall is in UK cinemas from today. 

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