Pang Ho-cheung to direct 'Deer and Cauldron' trilogy

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, February 14, 2019
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A teaser poster of "The Deer and the Cauldron" by Pang Ho-cheung. [Image courtesy of MicroEnt]

One of the best-known Wuxia (martial heroes) novel, "The Deer and the Cauldron" by the late legendary writer Louis Cha, will be made into a trilogy franchise by Hong Kong director Pang Ho-cheung, it was announced at the Berlin Film Festival on Monday.

The film will be produced by Pang's own company, Making Film, with international sales and finance organized through Hong Kong's Bravos Pictures. The latter introduced the new franchise at the festival's European Film Market. 

Pang, also a talented Hong Kong director whose works include "Love in a Puff" and "Isabella," will produce, write and direct the trilogy with each installment costing a budgeted US$80 million to make. This marks the big screen return of the classic novel after 26 years since the appearance of the classic "Royal Tramp" and "Royal Tramp II" directed by Wong Jing and starring megastar comedian Stephen Chow.

"The Deer and the Cauldron" has undergone many TV adaptations, the most outstanding ones including TVB's 1984 and 1998 series starting Tony Leung and Jordan Chan respectively. "The Duke of Mount Deer" was another popular TV remake starring Dicky Cheung in 2000.

The novel is the last and longest novel written by Louis Cha, better known by his pen name Jin Yong. The novel was published in Hong Kong as a serial in the newspaper Ming Pao, running from October 1969 to September 1972. Fans regard it as Jin Yong's best work. 

Though it has been categorized in the genre of martial arts chivalry, it focuses on the story of a mischievous and grassroot protagonist Wei Xiaobao in the Qing Dynasty, making it actually an unusual Wuxia or antihero classic.

"The Deer and the Cauldron" has been translated into English by John Minford. The translation was published by the Oxford University Press in three volumes from 1997 to 2002 as one of a few English versions of Jin Yong's novels, and becoming a worldwide best-seller.

Pang plans to start shooting the trilogy in mid-2019, with 2021 targeted for the theatrical release of the first installment. The leading actors and actresses have yet to be announced. 

Hong Kong local news outlets have reported he started working on the screenplay several years ago after wrapping up the third installment in the "Love in a Puff" franchise. "The Deer and the Cauldron" will be his first historical production.

Jin Yong died last Oct. 30 at the age of 94. His martial arts novels sold more than 100 million copies worldwide and have inspired production of movies, TV series, radio dramas, stage dramas, video games and various cultural and creative products, deeply influencing and shaping the development of popular culture in China over the past decades.

More films and TV series are in the pipeline, such as Roy Chow's new film "The Legend of the Condor Heroes" and Tusi Hark's new film "The Return of the Condor Heroes," as well as Jiang Jiajun's new TV series "The Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber" and the 60-episode "The Deer and the Cauldron" starring rising actor Zhang Yishan, although the director has yet to be revealed. 

Meanwhile, several mobile video games based on his novels are also in development by Perfect World Investment & Holding Group and other developers.  

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