Andy Lau: It was my 20-year dream to make 'Moscow Mission'

By Zhang Rui
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, October 5, 2023
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Superstar Andy Lau both produces and stars in "Moscow Mission," directed by Herman Yau, and has said that making this explosive action film was a dream come true.

Cast and crew pose for a group photo at the premiere of "Moscow Mission" while also celebrating Andy Lau's 62nd birthday on stage in Beijing, Sept. 26, 2023. [Photo courtesy of MicroEnt]

Lau revealed at the film's premiere in Beijing on Sept. 26 that he had wanted to turn the true crime case into a movie for a long time. "The story has haunted me for many years, and I've finally made it. This has been my 20-year dream," said the legendary singer and actor, who just celebrated his 62nd birthday on Sept. 27. For this project, he also took on the role of executive producer for the first time, alongside China's veteran filmmaker Han Sanping.

"Moscow Mission" chronicles a cross-border manhunt for the perpetrator of a heinous robbery and rape on a Moscow-bound train from Beijing, drawing inspiration from a real criminal case in 1993. The same event inspired Hong Kong director Michael Mak's 1995 "Marauders on the Train of China," which went on to become a cult classic in Hong Kong.

The film garnered praise from audiences for actors' impressive performances at its premiere. Huang Xuan, in particular, gives a particularly unforgettable and chilling portrayal of the film's villain.

"Real historical events have always been of interest to filmmakers around the world. This film perfectly combines authenticity with entertainment value," Han Sanping said. "It features two breakthroughs: first, it blends the genre film, gunfight elements, and the 1990s vibe together; second, it shapes characters with depth in what might be expected to be a straightforward action gunfight movie. Through this film, one can witness the overall advancement of the Chinese film industry. Chinese filmmakers use cinema to demonstrate the maturity of the era, and actors showcase their exquisite skills in portraying characters from different periods."

Director Herman Yau added that he had been toying with the idea of intertwining true events with his imaginative action sequences. He had previously used similar techniques in "Raid on the Lethal Zone," a film based on a true story of the "8077 Special Combat Team" in Yunnan province as they navigated floods and natural hazards while combatting a violent gang of drug traffickers.

The director said that the true train crime case that inspired "Moscow Mission" was very suitable for making genre films. "We created some unprecedented spectacles [for the film], and these scenes and events are all rooted in real history with concrete evidence. Regarding this historical case, I might now consider myself half an expert."

But reality can be just as wild as what's portrayed in the film. Screenwriter Chen Daming spent six months in Moscow in the early 1990s. He revealed that he has many "crazy memories" from that time, noting, "Even things like buying a fighter jet actually happened."

To realistically recreate this grand heist, which shocked people around the world at the time, the creators delved into a vast amount of materials. Actor Zhang Hanyu, who portrays a police officer in the film, drew on his intimate knowledge of what a cop from the 1990s should look like, having lived through the era and having friends in the police force. He is well-acquainted with the case files and details. However, when comparing his knowledge with the director's, Zhang Hanyu conceded: "On my first day on set, when I discussed it with the director, I found that he was even clearer about the details than I was."

A poster for "Moscow Mission." [Image courtesy of CMC Pictures]

Even historical figures gave a thumbs-up for the film's authenticity. Ai Anjun, a police officer who witnessed the Sino-Russian train heist and wrote the factual report "The 1993 Sino-Russian Train Robbery," as well as served as the chief consultant for the movie, attended the premiere. After watching the film, he was deeply moved, saying that the film seemed to transport him back 30 years. "I am a witness, a participant, and a comprehensive recorder. Some of those who experienced it with me are no longer here, but these stories remain in my heart."

"Moscow Mission" was released in Chinese theaters on Sept. 29 and is poised to be a strong box office contender during the eight-day Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holiday.

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