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Disaster movie is supreme at box office

Updated: 2021-09-27 07:38 ( China Daily Global )
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Actor Zhu Yilong portrays a geologist who gets stranded in an underground cave. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Film shows acts of outstanding heroism in face of mounting peril, Xu Fan reports.

After being sluggish for nearly two months, the domestic movie market is seeing a glimmer of hope with momentum propelled by the Mid-Autumn Festival holiday which has proved to be a lucrative box-office period in recent years.

Topped by the disaster blockbuster Cloudy Mountain, the holiday-lasting from Sept 19 to 21-attracted millions of moviegoers, bringing in a total of nearly 500 million yuan ($77.4 million) to boost the sector's morale.

A touching tale which reflects Chinese people's courage and unity while facing a catastrophe, Cloudy Mountain has grossed over 315 million yuan since it opened on Sept 17, signaling a new chapter for Chinese disaster films-a rarely explored genre.

Starring Huang Zhizhong as a retired soldier and Zhu Yilong as a geologist, also a father and son, the fictional story begins with a water leak in a tunnel which is scheduled to be completed following a decade of construction. Caused by the unusual movement of a tectonic plate, more geological disasters occur, varying from an earthquake to several landslides.

With their experience and professional knowledge, the two protagonists join forces to rescue several survivors stranded in an underground cave. The journey takes a more dangerous turn after they volunteer to install explosives that will prevent a massive rockslide which threatens the lives of around 160,000 residents of a nearby town.

For director Li Jun, a veteran known for the 2016 crime blockbuster Tik Tok and the 2018 popular TV series Peace Hotel, the film's idea came from his desire to explore the relationship between nature and people.

Last year, the 55-year-old director had to stay in the United Kingdom for around seven months as a result of the global COVID-19 outbreak, providing him with ample time to dive into archival material and documentaries about natural disasters.

"The conflict between people and a natural disaster, always a powerful 'villain', makes you feel a power and strength barely created by other genres of films, thus making me very interested in shooting a disaster film," says Li.

After entrusting his assistants to conduct field investigations around the country, Li decided to shoot the major scenes in Shuanghe in Southwest China's Guizhou province-the longest cave in Asia, which extends around 240 kilometers.

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