The Movie Emperor (Chinese: 红毯先生) is a 2023 Chinese film industry comedy satire film directed by Ning Hao and starring Andy Lau. The film had its premiere at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival in Gala Presentations section on September 15, 2023. It is also set as closing film of the 28th Busan International Film Festival to be screened on October 13, 2023.
The film tells the story of a has-been Hong Kong film star who makes a comeback film with a major director to regain his popularity. To prepare for his role as a peasant farmer in the 1960s, he goes to the countryside in mainland China to experience rural life there, but his arrogance triggers a series of farces. In the end, he realises the importance of sincerity over his ego.
- Andy Lau as Lau Wai-chi, a has been Hong Kong film star.
- Rima Zeidan
- Pal Sinn
- Kelly Lin
In February 2022, the opening ceremony of the film, created by Huanxi Media, directed by Ning Hao and starred by Andy Lau, was held in Shenzhen. Principal photography began on 23 February 2022. The filming locations also included Guangzhou, Shanwei City, Haifeng County and Haikou City, and filming was wrapped up on 21 April 2022.
The film was premiered at 2023 Toronto International Film Festival in Gala Presentations section on 15 September 2023 at Roy Thomson Hall. It was also selected in Gala Selection of the 36th Tokyo International Film Festival and was screened on 25 October 2023.
Kevin L. Lee reviewing for AwardsWatch at Toronto Film Festival, graded the film A- and praised the performance of lead actor writing, “[Andy] Lau not only continues to cement his place as a Hong Kong legend in cinema, but he strolls right in and delivers a comedic performance like no other.”
Lee Marshall of ScreenDaily reviewing in Busan Film Festival opined that the film “packed with references to Lau’s career and to Hong Kong and Chinese mainland films and celebrity culture, is a film that has been precision-engineered for local audiences.” Concluding Lee wrote, “While there are more than a few China-specific in-jokes here, Hao’s knowing comedy makes a good case for the cross-border universality of the world it portrays.” Lee cites example of “Yumeji’s Theme” from 2000 Hong Kong film In the Mood for Love, used as a repeated motif in the film to make the point.
Peter Debruge giving positive review for Variety wrote that the film is “one of the year’s savvier satires.”
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