Here are all the major movies to catch in Chinese theaters this January.*
January 3: Life is Beautiful
Image via Melampo Cinematografica/IMDb
Roberto Benigni’s Oscar-winning classic is coming to Chinese cinemas in 4k resolution this month. While the practice of re-releasing old classics in Chinese cinemas is kind of amusing, when the films are of such a high quality, how can you argue with it? Set in World War 2-era Italy, Life is Beautiful follows the heart-warming and heart-wrenching story of a father and his child as they navigate life in a concentration camp.
January 3: Spies in Disguise
Image via Twentieth Century Fox/IMDb
Starring Will Smith and Tom Holland, this computer-animated film brings together a pair of mismatched spies. ‘The world’s most awesome spy’ (Smith) attempts to save the world with the help of a socially-inept MIT graduate (Holland).
January 10: Fighting with My Family
Image via MGM/IMDb
Delayed for months and months and months, this film looks set to finally hit Chinese cinemas in January (but, don’t hold your breath). Holding a score of 92% on Rotten Tomatoes, Fighting with My Family follows the story of a UK girl, Paige, trying to make it as a wrestler. Receiving advice from Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson himself, Paige goes through ups and downs as she attempts to clamber to become ‘Queen of the Ring’.
January 10: 47 Meters Down: Uncaged
Image via Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures/IMDb
This survival horror film tells the tale of a group of friends who go scuba diving and stumble across a tale of a lost Mayan city. Intrigued by the tale, they dive in search of the lost city but become separated after a stone column collapses. The collapse alerts sharks, who terrorize the group. Incidentally, the film stars Sylvester Stallone’s daughter, Sistine Stallone, in her acting debut. Let’s hope she’s better than her old man. Just kidding (but not really, though).
January 10: The Farewell
After being delayed late last year, this film is finally getting a release this January. Quite possibly the most hyped Asian film since Crazy Rich Asians, The Farewell stars Awkwafina who plays Billi Wang (based on the life experiences of director, producer and writer of the film, Lulu Wang) who discovers that her nainai (grandmother) has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. She flies to Changchun and butts heads with her family and her Chinese cultural roots.
January 10: Richard Jewell
This Clint Eastwood-directed biographic tale takes inspiration from a Vanity Fair article discussing the bizarre story of how a security guard called Richard Jewell initially secured a bomb at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta, Georgia, only for him later to be accused of placing the device himself. Produced by Leonardo Di Caprio, Jonah Hill, Eastwood and others, and with an all-star cast, including Sam Rockwell, Kathy Bates, John Hamm and Olivia Wilde, the folks behind the film will be hoping for a much better reception in China than it got on Western cinema screens.
January 10: Koali & Rice
Image via IMDb
Named for the Fujianese sweet potato porridge, this film bases itself in the Southeast province and discusses the distinct social ethics, while shining a light on the plight of growing old. Widower Lin Xiumei is at the center of story, seeking to find relevance in her life once more. Young director Yesir (Ye Qian) is at the helm for this film, which has made appearances at Filmfest Munchen, Moscow International Film Festival and Pingyao International Film Festival.
January 11: Spycies
Image via Lux Populi VFX/IMDb
This China-France co-production follows similar themes to the Will Smith-fronted spy cartoon above, albeit with animals starring as the main characters. Two mismatched operatives team up to discover a nefarious climate threat which puts life on Earth on the brink of extinction.
January 25: Detective Chinatown 3
Image via Wanda Pictures/IMDb
Coming out just in time for Chinese New Year, Detective Chinatown 3 is the latest in the successful series. The last outing in the Detective Chinatown series raked in USD439 million, according to Variety, becoming one of the highest-grossing Chinese films ever. The film will again be directed by Sicheng Chen and will this time take place in Tokyo, after previous outings in Bangkok and New York. Bound to make another splash, don’t miss out on this action comedy flick.
January 25: Jiang Ziya
Image via Douban
A spiritual successor to the highly successful 2019 animation, Ne Zha, Jiang Ziya again takes Chinese mythology as its inspiration, telling the story of Jiang Ziya, a military strategist who masterminded the downfall of the Shang Dynasty. The story is based on the same book that gave inspiration to the aforementioned animated hit, Ne Zha, called Investiture of the Gods.
January 25: The Rescue
Image via China Modern Film and Television Development/IMDb
Another Chinese adventure film, this time taking the country’s coast guard as its inspiration, Dante Lam’s The Rescue is set for a global release, after the North American release date was confirmed last year. The Operation Mekong director has built a story around five characters who form the nucleus of a rescue team who face a series of emergencies which tease out their different personalities.
January 25: Lost in Russia
Xu Zheng returns with the third in the highly popular Lost in... series, following on from trips to Hong Kong and Thailand with a trip to the biggest country in the world, Russia. The Chinese name of the film translates to Awkward Mom, a reference to the turbulent relationship between the film’s star and his mother.
January 25: Leap
Image via Douban
Gong Li is having quite a busy few months. The actress here stars as Lang Ping, former volleyball player with the Chinese national team and current head coach. The biographical film is spread across 40 years, telling tales of the highly successful national team, and co-stars volleyball players Zhu Ting and Xu Yunli.
January 25: Vanguard
Image via Lix Entertainment/IMDb
The sixth collaboration between director Stanley Tong and legendary Chinese actor Jackie Chan (Rumble in the Bronx, Police Story 3, Police Story 4), Vanguard is a serious action blockbuster with big ambitions. The film tells the story of a businessman taken hostage by a group of mercenaries. His only hope is a covert security company called Vanguard.
January 25: Boonie Bears: The Wild Life
Image via Douban
The seventh film in the nationally famous cartoon series, Boonie Bears: The Wild Life, drops just in time for Chinese New Year. The film takes on a sci-fi bent, with a new ‘theme park’ opening on the bear’s mountain, which can turn humans into animals. What could go wrong?
*Release dates subject to change.
[Cover image via Melampo Cinematografica/IMDb]
See more recent movie releases in China.