Will 'Dragon Blade' Have A Sequel? A Follow-Up To The Jackie Chan Epic Could Mean Big Things For Hollywood
Dragon Blade, a Chinese epic starring Jackie Chan, John Cusack and Adrian Brody, is finally approaching its U.S. release, months after the film became a box office hit in China. Dragon Blade was released there on the first day of Chinese New Year, and earned the top spot at the box office over the four-day weekend with $55 million. Dragon Blade has gone on to gross $116,790,000 in China alone, and has enjoyed success in the United Arab Emirates and South Korea, before heading to the U.S. It would make sense, then, to conclude that the only logical response to such enormous success would be to have a second film in the works, but there's no knowing yet if there will be a Dragon Blade sequel. No announcements have been made, and another movie does not appear to be in the works. Still, it's likely the absence of a sequel will do nothing to diminish the growing partnerships between Hollywood actors and Chinese productions.
Upon first glance, Dragon Blade seems puzzling to American audiences. Chan, known the world over for his impeccable action chops and charming on-screen presence, plays Huo An, a warrior who teams up with Roman defector General Lucius (Cusack) to fight the evil Roman Tiberius (Brody) and keep him from taking over the Silk Road. Despite the fact that no Dragon Blade sequel appears to be in the works, fans of the action film will get to see Chan team up with Dragon Blade director Daniel Lee sometime in the near future. During a press conference to promote Dragon Blade at the Far East Film Festival, Chan revealed plans to work with Lee again, but did not disclose the nature of the project.
The idea of the typically non action movie-starring Brody and Cusack leading the project might strike some as odd, and rightfully so; not only is neither star known for that genre, but they both aren't exactly box office draws, either. So it'd make perfect sense if you're thinking that there's no way a movie like Dragon Blade could do well enough to warrant a sequel, but thanks to China's growing film industry and partnerships with Western stars, it could just happen. Brody, at least, is committed to making more China-U.S. productions a reality; fresh off Dragon Blade's Chinese success, Brody has strengthened his China-based production company, Fable House. Though Brody's company will have offices in both countries, it is believed that Fable House will have a Chinese focus, no doubt, in part, due to Brody's newfound Chinese financial backers. "I feel a deep connection to Asia. I've been able to develop close friendships with a core group of extremely talented filmmakers and financiers, who have opened many doors," Brody said in an interview with Deadline.
Brody isn't the only Hollywood actor exploring new opportunities in the Chinese film industry. Christian Bale stared in The Flowers of War from House of Flying Daggers director Zhang Yimou in 2011. The film, paid for in large part by the Chinese government, flopped in the U.S., but is still just one of many examples of Hollywood actors (typically white men) crossing over to China. Keanu Reeves made his directorial debut with the state-backed Man of Tai Chi just a few years ago, and while that film was something of a box office failure, it did serve to publicize joint Hollywood-China productions.
Based on the aforementioned productions, one might be tempted to assume that China's film industry has become a second chance of sorts for Hollywood actors who have passed their box-office prime, but that's increasingly not the case. In July, Matt Damon appeared at a massive Beijing press conference to promote his upcoming film, The Great Wall. The movie is being marketed as an English-language epic, directed by Zhang Yimou — the filmmaker behind The Flowers of War. The film will star a ponytail-wearing Damon as William Garin, a European mercenary who finds himself battling supernatural creatures during the building of China's Great Wall. The fantasy epic will also star other big names like Willem Dafoe and Pedro Pascal, and a slew of huge Asian stars, including Andy Lau, Lu Han and Jing Tian. The Great Wall has been called the biggest U.S.-China co-production ever, and could theoretically change film industries in both countries.
So, Dragon Blade may get a sequel. It may not. Regardless, movie goers should expect more Hollywood-China crossovers in the near future, and look forward to the possibilities within the collaborations.
Images: Lionsgate Premiere