Big-Budget Chinese Action Film ‘The Rescue’ Sets Day-And-Date North American Release

Patrick Frater

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CMC Pictures has acquired rights in North America to “The Rescue,” the Chinese big-budget action film that is expected to dominate Chinese New Year.

The distributor will release the film in theaters on Jan. 25, 2020 in the U.S. and Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the U.K.

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The film is directed by Dante Lam (“Operation Red Sea,” “Operation Mekong”) and reunites the Hong Kong director with his regular star and “Mekong” partner Eddie Peng.

The timing puts the film in a day and date pattern synchronized with its outing in mainland China. That capitalizes on Chinese social media reactions, and minimizes cross-border online piracy.

The story focuses on five characters who form the nucleus of a Coastguard Rescue team. They face diverse emergencies in the air and at sea that force them into joint problem-solving and reveal their different personalities. Alongside Peng, the cast includes Xin Zhilei (“Crosscurrent”) as a female helicopter pilot, Wang Yanlin (“Operation Red Sea”), Lan Yingying, Xu Yang, Li Minchen, and Wang Yutian.

Production, on a budget of $90 million, was by China Communications Press, China Modern Film And Television Development, Emperor Film Production Company Limited, Tencent Pictures Cultural Diffusion, Bona Film & Television Production, Autonavi YunMap Technology, and Maoyan Weying Culture Media.

CMC Pictures, part of Li Ruigang’s China Media Capital cluster, has become a significant distributor of Chinese movies in English-language territories. Earlier this year it took hit sci-fi film “The Wandering Earth” to a $5.87 million score in North America. That is far beyond the typical ceiling of $1 million achieved by most Chinese films on stateside release, and a record for the past 10 years. The company also recently handled “My People, My Country,” “Ne Zha,” and “White Storm 2.”

Featuring large amounts of underwater scenes, the film was largely shot in China and Mexico, where it used the same water tank facilities as “Titanic.” Distinctly different from Lam’s two previous efforts which were more military and nationalist, the director says “The Rescue” focuses on civilian services and “expresses national rescue prowess,” in a way that may be easier to digest for international audiences.

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