Actor scared he is no match for Stephen Chow
ONE OF Hong Kong's iconic films, A Chinese Odyssey, has been given a new lease of life with a film slated to hit cinemas in September.
The two-part 1995 fantasy-comedy films, loosely based on classical novel Journey To The West, are well-known throughout Asia.
Both films - Pandora's Box and Cinderella - starred Hong Kong comedy icon Stephen Chow and sex symbol Athena Chu. However, the actors, now 54 and 45 years old respectively, will not be reprising their roles in the new film.
The latest instalment, titled A Chinese Odyssey: Part III, will instead feature younger actors from mainland China.
Han Geng, 32, will play Monkey King as well as Joker.
Actress Tang Yan, 33, will take on the role of Fairy Zixia.
Actress Karen Mok is the only person from the old cast who will appear in the new film.
But fans may be relieved to know that Jeffery Lau, who helmed the 1995 movies, remains in charge of Part III.
On Monday, he announced plans for the movie's release to coincide with Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on Sept 15.
The holiday is celebrated in countries like China, South Korea, Vietnam and Singapore.
"I felt like I was returning home the moment I began work on the new film," said Lau. "All the memories came flooding back."
He added that the latest film will answer some unsolved puzzles from the first two movies.
It took a lot of persuasion to get Han and Tang on board, he noted, adding that he waited for eight months for Han to agree.
Han said: "I was reluctant because I felt huge pressure.
"It will be really difficult to improve on a role that has been perfectly played by Chow before."
The third instalment aims to attract young moviegoers with newer elements.
Said Lau: "Due to the lack of special effects 20 years ago, many scenes could not be realised then. But now I have the opportunity."
The earlier films were about the failed romances of Monkey King and Joker.
They were released in cinemas on the mainland shortly after their Hong Kong debuts.
But the screenings were soon suspended as they were seen as "non-serious" like some other Chow-style comedies.
Most viewers therefore watched the films on videotape or television.
Freelancer Xiao Tu, 28, a fan of the films, said: "I first watched the movies on China Central Television and was hooked by their humour."
Ironically, the suspended screening prompted much philosophical analyses, causing the films to gain a following among college students years later.
Many lines from the movies are still quoted by people in their daily conversations.
ASIA NEWS NETWORK