China’s ‘most expensive’ movie pulled from cinemas

The $150M film stars acting powerhouses Tong Leung Ka-fei, Carina Lau as well as Ming Dao


Chinese fantasy-action film Asura was screened for all of three days in China before it was pulled from cinemas. It is headlined by Chinese actor Leo Wu and a bevy of A-listers such as Tony Leung Ka-fai and Carina Lau (the trio play a three-headed demigod in the movie), as well as Taiwanese actor Ming Dao.

The movie, which is said to be the most expensive Chinese film ever made with a budget of RMB 750 million (approximately S$152 million) failed to perform during opening weekend and earned just S$9 million at the box office.

A representative from Zhenjian film, one of the production companies working on Asura, did not elaborate on their decision to withdraw the film from theatres but shared that they are planning to make “some changes” to the movie before releasing it again.

Amid this controversy however, a new wave of allegations suggesting sabotage by online reviewers have emerged. Asura has a low 4.9 rating (upon 10) on Chinese movie review platform Maoyan and producers believe that most of these reviews are “fake” and an act of sabotage.

According to China reports, the movie was produced over a span of six years and marked the directorial debut of Peng Zhang, who was formerly a Hollywood stunt coordinator for Rush Hour 3 and Twilight 1 and 2. Producers had hoped for the movie to kick off a new fantasy movie franchise in China, just like what Lord of the Rings did for Hollywood.

As the movie heads back to the editing suite now, whether its revised edition meets its huge budget expectations and becomes the next-big-thing in Chinese films remains to be seen.

Photos: PBE Media

It was a big challenge to play a three-headed demigod: Carina Lau

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