Tomb raid novel turned into blockbuster

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, December 15, 2015
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Cast and crew of "Mojin - The Lost Legend" pose for a group photo at the premiere held in Beijing on Dec. 13, 2015. [Photo / Xinhua]

The fantasy adventure movie "Mojin - The Lost Legend," a new adaptation of the best-selling tomb raid novel series, is set to smash Chinese box office records next weekend.

The film, previously known as "The Ghouls" and directed by Wuershan, was one of the top rated and most anticipated movies in the Chinese film market during the New Year holiday season. Wuershan, as proved by his work directing the record-breaking Chinese movie "Painted Skin: The Resurrection" in 2012, knows exactly how to use his talent to make a visual feast.

Four years in the making, "Mojin" boasts a star-studded cast including Chen Kun, Shu Qi, Huang Bo, Angelababy and Xia Yu. The film is adapted from the well-known novel "Ghost Blows out the Light" and it is the second adaptation of the novel made in a single year.

"The ending credits of the film consist of 2,004 names, and this project is imbued with all of their emotion and talents, " Wuershan said at the film's premiere held in Beijing on Sunday.

In September, the first adaptation of the novel from director Lu Chuan starred Mark Chao, Yao Chen, Rhydian Vaughan, Li Chen, Tiffany Tang and Daniel Feng. The film received mixed reviews as Lu made too many changes to the story in the original novel. The original novelist Zhang Muye (pen name Tian Xia Ba Chang) even issued a statement saying he was not involved with the screenplay. The film eventually grossed US$106 million in China.

It is rare to see two adaptations from one novel series released in one year. As a result, it's difficult not to make a comparison. The two rival films, though based on the same novel, have in fact competed furiously from the moment they started their promotion campaigns. Lu Chuan's version, produced by China Film Group and LeTV, may be an indicator of how far "Mojin" can go at the box office, but the latter may perform even better and break some new box office records.

With the copyrights of all eight volumes of the author's novel represented by the biggest online novel website, Zhang Muye said, at first, half of them were sold to China Film Group Corporation, and the other half were sold to Wanda Pictures. Zhang chose to work with the "Mojin" team and distanced himself from Lu Chuan's version.

With the original novelist as one of the screen writers, "Mojin" boasts a more original feel and has a stronger cast and crew. The story of "Mojin" isn't from the previous eight volumes. Zhang revealed at the premiere that he actually wrote a new chapter especially for the film, adding that his involvement in the project felt like a dream come true. It is also the first big co-production made inunion of the three biggest Chinese private film giants including Wanda, Huayi Brothers Media Corp. and Enlight Pictures.

After the advanced screenings on Sunday, critics and industry insiders applauded the film as a new landmark of China's filmmaking industry and called it the "Chinese Indiana Jones." Wang Zhonglei, President of Huayi Brothers, said at the premiere that they now believed "Mojin" is the best film in China and that it can show the world how far the Chinese film industry has come.

It remains to be seen whether the film can break the Chinese box office record set by "Monster Hunt" which grossed US$384.8 million this summer. "Mojin - The Lost Legend," is set to be released nationwide on Dec. 18, 2015.

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