Will the silver screen shine?

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Will the silver screen shine?

The advertisements and trailers of upcoming movie releases are often more eye-catching and imaginative than the movies themselves. This is especially true of the end-of-year season, when fantastic plots, big budgets, hi-tech jinks and big stars tantalize moviegoers for months. Robust box office returns are par for the course.

However, movies such as Hong Kong action drama Storm Riders II, adventure thriller The Treasure Hunter and even Zhang Yimou's long-anticipated comedy thriller A Simple Noodle Story have not excited viewers to the extent expected and comments posted online from both critics and the public have been anything but enthusiastic.

This weekend, another star-studded blockbuster, Bodyguards and Assassins, opens at cinemas. Directed by Teddy Chen Tak-sun and produced by Peter Chen Ho-sun, the movie set in 1905 Hong Kong is about revolutionary Chinese leader Sun Yat-sen and a group of people assigned to protect him from possible assassination attempts.

The movie, previously titled The Dark October, had been on the director's agenda for nearly a decade and ran into many problems, including funding issues, choice of location, the outbreak of SARS and even the unexpected death of one of film's top investors. But despite everything, Chen persevered and saw the project through, editing the script more than a thousand times.

The director of Jackie Chan's action drama The Accidental Spy (2001) even published a book last year to reveal how he fell into depression and convey the stress and disappointments he suffered during the making of Bodyguards and Assassins.

The movie has an all-star cast, with Tony Leung Ka-fai as a revolutionary and Eric Tsang Chi-wai as a policeman, pop stars Leon Lai Ming (Mei Lanfang in director Chen Kaige's Forever Enthralled) as a beggar, Nicholas Tse Ting-fung as a rickshaw puller, Simon Yam Tat-wah as a fugitive and Donnie Yen Ji-dan as a gambler.

They are joined by mainland artists Hu Jun (who plays an assassin), Fan Bingbing (a concubine), and former Supergirl champion Li Yuchun.

According to the director, the stars are not the only attraction of the movie. Another draw is the set, which was built in Shanghai at a cost of 43 million yuan and took eight months to complete. It is a full-scale replica of Central in Hong Kong in 1905 with its distinctive pre-war architecture.

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