New Chinese movie Schemes In Antiques gathers a group of people who fight to protect a national treasure, a jade Buddha head from the Tang Dynasty (618-907). Set for release on Friday, the film is ready to fire the first shot for the New Year movie season in the Chinese mainland.
The movie focuses on the repatriation of the artifact, which was taken by a Japanese man during Japan’s invasion of China (1931-45) and later returned by his granddaughter in 1992. Different powers in the Chinese antique industry all long to get their hands on the treasure but the lead characters unite together to find the Buddha head and turn it over to the authorities as the people’s property.
The premiere of the film was held in Beijing on Sunday with the cast, including actors Lei Jiayin, Ge You and actress Xin Zhilei, and director Derek Kwok from Hong Kong attending the premiere.
The Hong Kong director said that he learned a lot about antiques from making the movie and that he can now recognize some of the simpler features of China’s cultural relics.
Evaluating treasures is one of the highlights of the movie. According to Liang Lin, the film’s producer, the nearly 30 cultural relics appearing in the film are real antiques that were borrowed from collectors and protected by security guards during filming.
The key star of the movie, the Buddha head, was specially made using 3D printing and carving. It took seven months to make.
The film sets diverse tests for the lead characters as they track down the treasure, including Morse codes and involving Chinese fairy tales, so that the audience can solve these puzzles along with the characters.
“I felt I was watching the Chinese version of Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Hu Jun, a Chinese actor who was invited to watch the movie, said at the premiere.
The author of the original novel upon which the film is based, Ma Boyong, also spoke at the premiere, saying the movie surprised him and that he couldn’t take his eyes off the screen.
“The rhythm of the movie sometimes is fast-paced, but slows down when exploring some interesting plots. It had my attention the entire more than two hours,” one of audience members attending the premiere told the Global Times.