HK superstar Andy Lau plays war strategist in ‘The Great Wall’

After starring in Zhang Yimou’s dazzling, award-winning romantic adventure House of Flying Daggers in 2004, Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau now reunites with the director for Universal Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ epic fantasy The Great Wall.

Lau is one of Hong Kong’s most commercially successful film actors, performing in more than 140 projects since the 1980s. Voted the No. 1 box-office star of Hong Kong for decades, he truly deserves the moniker of superstar of the Chinese cinema.

In the filml, when a mercenary warrior (Matt Damon) is imprisoned within The Great Wall, he discovers the mystery behind one of the greatest wonders of our world. As wave after wave of marauding beasts, intent on devouring the world, besiege the massive structure, his quest for fortune turns into a journey toward heroism as he joins a huge army of elite warriors to confront this unimaginable and seemingly unstoppable force.

Lau plays Strategist Wang, perhaps the smartest guy in the movie. “He’s got these incredible inventions and is the brains behind The Nameless Order,” remarks co-star Matt Damon. “He’s somebody that my character, William, cottons to, and has a great deal of respect for.”

That respect was also evident between the two actors who had never met before the five-month shoot, but who had a professional connection in their prior work. Turns out that they played the same character in two different movies—Lau as the corrupt police inspector in the 2002 Hong Kong crime thriller Infernal Affairs, and Damon as the devious undercover cop in The Departed, the 2006 English-language adaptation. It was something the actors joked about during some of their casual chats on the set during breaks in filming.

“I told Matt that he was cleverer than me because he got paid more for his movie,” the veteran of more than 150 films jests. “Matt told me that I’m cleverer than he is because he dies in that, and I lived to do two sequel movies. I enjoyed working with Matt and feel he has become a good friend. I’m looking forward to working with him again.”

Lau describes Strategist Wang as “a scientist spending his life doing the research about the enemy and trying to fight against them. During the Song Dynasty, the society was quite open, so lots of Chinese culture was well developed and many great thinkers and inventions were founded. That’s why I think they (chose) Song Dynasty as the background for this movie.”

As for the challenge of the bilingual role, Lau confesses that “it’s really hard for me to practice speaking English. I got the script a month before shooting and it took me two weeks to fully understand the story. Then it took me another two weeks to remember all the lines. Luckily, we had dialogue coaches on set, who coached me in a very good way. I also have to say thank you to Matt and Willem [Dafoe] because they gave me very good suggestions while I was performing. Willem was like a teacher of mine, trying to polish my performing to make me feel great in front of camera. Matt was also a team player, always considerate to everyone’s place on the set.”

“Andy Lau is one of the best actors in China,” Zhang hails. “He has been popular in China for 40 years. There was a lot of English dialogue for him, even more than the foreign actors. Though he speaks English well, he wanted to tell the world Chinese actors speak English well, and he practiced hard.”

Opening across the Philippines in IMAX and regular cinemas on January 25, 2017, The Great Wall is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Milla Jovovich summarizes ‘Resident Evil’ films in two minutes

As Alice and Umbrella Corporation’s battle is coming to an end with the release of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter in Philippine cinemas on February 1, Columbia Pictures has shared a “rewind” video featurette, explaining everything that’s happened so far.

The video recap features Milla Jovovich as she talks the viewer through every fun highlight of the last five Resident Evil films. Watch the featurette below.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter picks up immediately after the events in Resident Evil: Retribution, in which Alice (Jovovich) is the only survivor of what was meant to be humanity’s final stand against the undead. Now, she must return to where the nightmare began – The Hive in Raccoon City, where the Umbrella Corporation is gathering its forces for a final strike against the only remaining survivors of the apocalypse.

The film also stars Ali Larter (Resident Evil: Afterlife) as Claire Redfield, Iain Glen (Game of Thrones, Resident Evil: Extinction) in the role of Dr. Alexander Isaacs, Shawn Roberts (Resident Evil: Afterlife) as Albert Wesker, Australian actress Ruby Rose (Orange is the New Black) as Abigail, Eoin Macken (The Night Shift) as Doc, Cuban-American actor William Levy, as Christian; Fraser James (Law & Order: UK) as Michael, and Japanese model and TV personality, Rola, as Cobalt.

Opening across the Philippines on February 1, 2017, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is distributed by Columbia Pictures, the local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International.

WATCH: ‘500 Days of Summer’ director helms Chris Evans-starrer ‘Gifted’

Chris Evans plays another kind of hero in the upcoming deeply touching family drama “Gifted” as a doting uncle to McKenna Grace.

“Gifted” trails the joyous journey of Frank Adler (Evans) and Mary Adler living peacefully on their own but is interrupted when Frank’s mother, Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), discovers that Mary is a prodigy like her mother. Fighting against his mother for the custody of Mary, Frank is determined to give the child a normal upbringing as opposed to the plans of Evelyn.

Supported with an impressive cast, “Gifted” also includes Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer and Critics’ Choice Best Actress (Comedy) Jenny Slate directed by Marc Webb who also helmed blockbuster favourites such as “500 Days of Summer,” “The Amazing Spider-Man” and “The Amazing Spider-Man 2.”

“Gifted” opens May 3, 2017 in Philippine cinemas from 20th Century Fox and to be distributed by Warner Bros.

WATCH: Hugh Jackman is back in action in new ‘Logan: The Wolverine’ trailer

20th Century Fox has just released Trailer #2 of the most anticipated movie this year “Logan: The Wolverine” featuring a thrilling series of action-packed scenes and intense moments introducing a young mutant girl, Laura (played by Dafne Keen), who possesses the same powerful claw and strength like The Wolverine. Laura, as seen in the trailer is being protected by Logan (Hugh Jackman) and Professor X (Patrick Stewart) from groups of armed men wanting to take her.

Directed by James Mangold, “Logan: The Wolverine” will open in Philippine cinemas nationwide on March 1 (Wednesday) from 20th Century Fox to be distributed by Warner Bros.

Hitmaker Jason Blum produces new suspense thriller ‘Split’

Following last year’s breakout hit The Visit, producer Jason Blum (The Purge and Insidious series) reunites with filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan for the critically acclaimed suspense thriller Split from Universal Pictures.

Starring James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy (The Witch), Split is an original film that delves into the mysterious recesses of one man’s fractured, gifted mind.

In Split, though Kevin (McAvoy) has evidenced 23 personalities—each with unique physical attributes—to his trusted psychiatrist, Dr. Fletcher (Buckley), there remains one still submerged who is set to materialize and dominate all the others. Compelled to abduct three teenage girls led by the willful, observant Casey (Taylor-Joy), Kevin reaches a war for survival among all of those contained within him—as well as everyone around him—as the walls between his compartments shatter apart.

Blum, known for his industry innovation in helping to shepherd small-budget films into worldwide blockbusters, discusses the partnership with Shyamalan: “Night can tell these extraordinarily character-driven stories against a backdrop of a larger subject matter. Split isn’t a typical small-budget film; it’s a large vision on a limited budget. It is not CGI or hundreds of millions of dollars that makes Split feel so epic—it’s Night’s incredibly provocative story.”

Jason Blum is an Academy Award®-nominated and two-time Primetime Emmy Award- and Peabody Award-winning producer. His multi-media company, Blumhouse Productions, pioneered a new model of studio filmmaking: producing high-quality, micro-budget films.

Blumhouse, which is in the midst of a 10-year first-look deal with Universal Pictures, has produced the highly profitable The Purge, Insidious, Ouija and Paranormal Activity franchises, which have grossed more than $2 billion worldwide. Blumhouse’s model began with the original Paranormal Activity, which was made for $15,000 and was released by Paramount Pictures, grossing approximately $200 million worldwide, making it the most profitable film in the history of Hollywood.

Blum, who was nominated for an Academy Award® for producing Whiplash, was added to Vanity Fair’s “New Establishment List 2015” and received the Producer of the Year Award at 2016’s CinemaCon.

Now playing across the Philippines, Split is distributed by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Vin Diesel is back to break every rule in ‘xXx: Return of Xander Cage’

In 2002, then emerging actor Vin Diesel starred in the action-thriller xXx which became a blockbuster, grossing over $350M worldwide. Diesel played Xander Cage, the first recruit to the ultra-secret xXx spy program, alongside Samuel L. Jackson as Gibbons, the program’s leader. Now, Diesel breathes new life into the franchise with xXx: Return of Xander Cage — a project fans have been demanding for nearly a decade.

For the action superstar, it was a nothing short of a homecoming. “There’s a need to re-visit this type of hero archetype,” says Diesel. “Xander is, in some ways, the reluctant hero, the anti-hero. It’s something that I’ve always felt like I owned. I always felt like, sooner or later, I’ll have to return to this character and right the wrongs of the past,” he says.

The xXx concept has always been and still is, about one bad-ass hero, able to handle everything in his way with a charm and humor no other secret agent has ever possessed. “We were very conscious of the status quo of spy films at the time of the first xXx. We had all the log lines that said, ‘It’s not your daddy’s secret agent’ or ‘a new breed of secret agent,’” Diesel says. “The shaping of xXx at its time, was that the heroes were white males who have a military background and they weren’t necessarily representative of the global audience. All of a sudden along came Xander Cage, who was anti-establishment and looked nothing like James Bond or Jason Bourne. He really was something wholly new and fresh,” says Diesel.

While the world has changed dramatically since the first film, undertones present in the original xXx, from the post 9/11 era, are still relevant today. “Production talks began for the first film pre-9/11,” says Diesel. “After 9/11 we realized that there could be a time or circumstance that would force a seemingly uncaring person to be patriotic. Our film was a call to action was born out of that.” Xander Cage was your rebel with a cause and that theme is echoed in his return.

“Xander is a person that society could write off as unimportant or of no value because of the type of music he listens to and we were saying that any of us could be heroic and patriotic if something feels as unjust as the plot proposed in the first xXx,” says Diesel. The xXx franchise is proving to be even more relevant to today’s market because of what’s going on globally. It’s taken a serious issue – government conspiracy and global destruction – and made it into a fun, save-the-world type of film.

The third explosive chapter of the blockbuster franchise that redefined the spy thriller, xXx: Return of Xander Cage finds extreme athlete turned government operative Xander Cage coming out of self-imposed exile and on a collision course with deadly alpha warrior Xiang (Donnie Yen) and his team in a race to recover a sinister and seemingly unstoppable weapon known as Pandora’s Box. Recruiting an all-new group of thrill-seeking cohorts, Xander finds himself enmeshed in a deadly conspiracy that points to collusion at the highest levels of world governments.

Directed by D.J. Caruso (Disturbia), xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is packed with the series’ signature deadpan wit and bad-ass attitude, raising the bar on extreme action with some of the most mind-blowing stunts to ever be caught on film.

Now playing across the Philippines, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is distributed in the Philippines by United International Pictures through Columbia Pictures.

Watch ‘Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa’ for just 150 pesos in this cozy micro-cinema

Due to insistent public demand, audience-favorite Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa is back at Cinema ’76 this January! Tickets are priced at 150 PHP apiece.

For almost a year now, this ‘micro-cinema’ on Luna Mencias St., Addition Hills, San Juan (near Shaw Boulevard) has been a hub for local indie film lovers. In line with its forthcoming first anniversary, the romantic drama film written and directed by Nestor Abrogena makes a grand comeback along with other favorites starting January 20 up to January 26.

Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa will be screened on the following schedules:

  • Jan 20 (Fri) • 8:15 PM
  • Jan 21 (Sat) • 7:00 PM
  • Jan 22 (Sun) • 7:15 PM
  • Jan 24 (Tue) • 10:00 PM
  • Jan 25 (Wed) • 4:00 PM
  • Jan 26 (Thu) • 4:00 PM

Starring Nicco Manalo and Emmanuelle Vera, Ang Kwento Nating Dalawa is under Dogtown Manila and Monoxide Works and produced by Jedd Dumaguina, Jess Yap, and Ramon Bautista.


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Here is the film’s plot outline: “As clouds begin to roll, we see the afternoon life of a busy city. Cars jam the streets, as people make squares of the side streets they walk on. People queue in line as they try to board the city train. This is SAM’s picture of his daily route to the university. He is a young filmmaker, who in his daily commute, picks up his girlfriend ISA from the train station before heading to school together.

The gloomy weather seems to be painting the day for the young couple. Problems between them hover as they both try to delay the inevitable — ISA is about to leave for the States after graduation, while SAM has a fellowship offer from one of the leading film schools in the world. The air between them is rife with doubts, fear and their unspoken dilemma looms on the horizon.

Should SAM and ISA stay, or should they just let go?”


For reference, here is the complete screening schedule at Cinema ’76 this week:

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Jackie Chan-starrer ‘Kung Fu Yoga’ hits Philippine cinemas

Gear up for a high-octane, adrenaline-pumping action-adventure for the whole family as Star Cinema releases Kung Fu Yoga starring legendary Asian action superstar Jackie Chan.

Directed by renowned Hong Kong film director, producer, action choreographer, screenwriter, and philanthropist Stanley Tong, who first directed Jackie Chan in Police Story 3: Super Cop in 1992, Kung Fu Yoga marks the much-awaited reunion between Chan and Tong since their mega-blockbuster collaboration in Chinese Zodiac 12 (CZ12) back in 2012.

Kung Fu Yoga is centered on the exploits of Chinese archeology professor Jack (Chan) who teams up with beautiful Indian professor Ashmita and assistant Kyra to locate lost Magadha treasure. The team travel across Asia, Europe and the Middle East as they dodge one obstacle after the other until they are ultimately led to a remote mountain temple in India where they will use a rare diamond as a key to unlock the real treasure that will culminate their quest.

During their Dubai press conference, director Stanley Tong revealed that they employed 70 super sports car during the car chase in the streets of Dubai, amounting to US $30M. The said scenes feature luxury brands including Bugatti Veyron, Lamborghini, Bentley, and Ferrari.

It is also director Tong who has always been interested to India’s culture. He integrated traditional Indian magic tricks, including the rope trick and the levitation into the action choreography.

A scene in Iceland made Jackie Chan dived into the water beneath the ice cave, he then stayed underwater for hours at a sub-zero temperature to achieve the best effect of the scene.

With an illustrious career that spans more than five decades, Chan was honored by the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences an honorary Oscar for his extraordinary achievements in film at the 8th Annual Governors Awards ceremony last November 2016 and Kung Fu Yoga marks his very first full-length feature film this 2017.

The movie features an international cast that highlights some of Asia’s most talented and accomplished actors led by Hong Kong actor and singer Aarif Rahman, who was catapulted to stardom after winning Best New Performer and Best Original Song at the 29th Hong Kong Film Awards in 2010, for his superb performance in the critically acclaimed drama Echoes Of The Rainbow; and three of Bollywood’s biggest stars: Amyra Dastur, who is considered today as the fresh face of Bollywood; former Indian beauty queen and now rising Bollywood star Disha Patani; and character actor Sonu Sood. Who is a household name in India who has done 70 movies, Chinese multi-media star and Korean pop band “EXO” member Zhang Yixing and China’s “Most Beautiful Yoga Instructor” MuQi MiYa are also featured in the movie in unforgettable supporting roles.

Follow the journey Jack and his incredible team and discover what dangers and treasures await them in this gargantuan action movie that will open 2017.

Distributed by Star Cinema, Kung Fu Yoga hits Philippine cinemas nationwide starting February 1, 2017.

Ben Affleck plays gangster with conscience in ‘Live by Night’

Two-time Academy Award-winner Ben Affleck – most recently seen in the critically praised The Accountant and in early 2016 playing crime fighting icon Batman/Bruce Wayne in the global blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – now directs and stars in Warner Bros. Pictures’ new gangster film Live by Night.

Affleck plays Joe Coughlin who went overseas to fight valiantly for his country, but quickly found himself utterly disillusioned by the war. He ultimately finds himself back home in, as he tells us, a life he didn’t expect…paying the price for the American dream.
“Joe fully acknowledges that he’s chosen to be an outlaw in a town run by gangsters, with the Irish and Italian mobs at war,” offers Affleck. “What I find most intriguing about him though is that, while he breaks the law and makes his own rules, it’s his own morality that prevents him from considering himself one of them, a gangster.”
But it’s Joe’s inherent sense of decency that could be his undoing.

For the ten years following the war, Joe Coughlin managed to live like an outlaw—under his policeman father’s roof, no less—before it all caught up to him. “The things that Joe witnessed as a soldier made him decide there wasn’t any meaning to the rules we follow in life, to playing it straight,” Affleck states. “He even sees the organized hierarchical nature of the gangster life as an equal anathema to the hierarchy of the military. He wants no part of that, no part of taking orders from anybody. He’s going to make his own rules.”

And he does so with a fair amount of success, so long as he keeps it, as Affleck describes, “small-time, running around with just two other guys and doing little stick-ups, that kind of thing.”

But it isn’t Joe’s distaste for authority, or even an ill-chosen robbery, that causes him to make his gravest error. It’s love. And it’s that singular emotion in its many forms—from passion to compassion—that will continue to be his downfall for years to come.

Live by Night was a true passion project for Affleck, who says, “As a filmmaker, this was a chance to pay homage to the classic Warner Bros. gangster movies of the 1930s through the `70s. I grew up watching them and they had an epic, sprawling feel that really took you into a different world, a different era.”

Affleck adapted the screenplay from author Dennis Lehane’s novel of the same name; the two first collaborated when Affleck made his acclaimed directorial debut with his screen adaptation of Lehane’s crime thriller Gone, Baby, Gone. Lehane served as an executive producer on Live by Night.

As a lifelong film buff, Affleck posits that the story has all the tropes that made him a fan of the gangster genre in particular: beautiful women, dangerous men, cops, the mob, shootouts, car chases…the whole fiery, combustible mix. “As soon as I read Dennis’s book I knew that there was something there for anyone who just really likes to have a great time at the movies.”

Opening across the Philippines on January 18, 2017, Live By Night is distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company.

Teresa Palmer plays Andrew Garfield’s wife in ‘Hacksaw Ridge’

Teresa Palmer is becoming one of the most globally recognized actresses, bringing her talents to the US and worldwide from Adelaide, Australia. She has starred in many major films including box office hits Lights Out and Warm Bodies.

Now she stars as the wife of a pacifist soldier in Golden Globe Best Picture nominee Hacksaw Ridge, the extraordinary true story of Desmond Doss who, in Okinawa during the bloodiest battle of WWII, saved 75 men without firing or carrying a gun.

Directed by Mel Gibson from a screenplay by Robert Schenkkan and Andrew Knight, Hacksaw Ridge also stars Andrew Garfield, Vince Vaughn, Hugo Weaving, Rachel Griffiths, Luke Bracey and Sam Worthington.

One of the most beautiful and transformational moments in Desmond’s life comes on the cusp of war – when he bumps into the ravishing young nurse he is determined to charm and make his wife. Dorothy Schutte did indeed marry Desmond Doss, and became a beacon in his darkest moments at war.

Mel Gibson was excited to cast Australian actress Teresa Palmer in the role. “Teresa is so beautiful on camera and she brings a real warmth to this character that it needed. You almost see her as Desmond’s angel of mercy because Teresa puts that quality out there,” says the director.

Palmer felt an immediate connection to Dorothy. She explains: “I wanted to play Dorothy because she’s such a strong woman who knows what she wants yet she also has a tenderness and complexity to her. My grandmother and my grandfather both served in World War II — my grandfather was a fireman and my grandmother sent Morse code. I can remember them telling me stories about their romance during that time, and the script felt reminiscent of those tales that I grew up listening to.”

Palmer dove into research to play the role. “I really studied how women of the time spoke and walked, their elegance,” Palmer says. “I also thought a lot about my mother, her faith, and her gentler way of seeing the world, which reminded me of Dorothy.”

But Palmer equally wanted to get a sense of that head-spinning, first-love passion that unfolds between Dorothy and Desmond on the screen. “Dorothy so fiercely loves Desmond, and from the start, her belief in him is completely unwavering. I wanted to ensure that this love felt authentic and real and connected, because it is such a foundation for how they live.”

Andrew Garfield, who plays Desmond, found instant chemistry with Palmer as the two tried to capture what they had seen of the couple’s relationship. “There’s this amazing This is Your Life episode about Desmond where you see he and Dorothy interact together on stage,” Garfield explains. “They’re these very direct, no games, joyous, emotionally available people – and that’s what Teresa and I were excited about playing. Teresa is this unconditionally loving, nurturing force.”

Says Palmer in turn of Garfield: “Andrew lived and breathed Desmond Doss, he stayed in accent the entire time and he even held himself like Desmond the whole time. That put pressure on me, because he is so giving to his craft. I didn’t want to let him down and so I wanted to bring my all too.”

Producer Bill Mechanic concludes Palmer did just that: “We wanted someone the audience can see is able to inspire Desmond’s ongoing faith while he’s at war. Teresa plays Dorothy as a woman of her times yet whose beliefs are as strong as Desmond’s.”

Opening across the Philippines on February 22, 2017, Hacksaw Ridge will be distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International.