Actor Xu Zheng portrays a pharmaceutical salesman in the new film, Dying to Survive, which will hit Chinese theaters on Friday. [Photo provided to China Daily]
Ning Hao and Xu Zheng have come together again to produce a new film－Dying to Survive－as they return to the summer movie season after 12 years.
宁浩和徐峥再次携手打造了一部新电影 —— 《我不是药神》—— 这也是两人时隔12年后再度回归暑期档电影。
This time, director Wen Muye joins the team after Ning recognized his talent for portraying realistic themes. It was Ning who handed Wen the script and asked Xu to act in the leading role.
Wen rose to prominence in 2013 for directing the award-winning short film Battle at the First International Film Festival in Xining, Qinghai province. Dying to Survive is his first feature-length movie and it took him three years to adapt the script from an original piece of writing.
The film is about Cheng Yong, played by Xu, a pharmaceutical salesman who becomes a hero by helping people get cheaper cancer medicine.
The 117-minute film combines both laughter and tears, showing the humanity of one man up against the reality of society.
"It's touching because it focuses on the better side of people, and you can see how society changes, thanks to just one small act of humanity," said Xu at the film's premiere at Tsinghua University in Beijing on July 2, where it received a long round of applause after the screening.
The movie is based on a true story－Lu Yong, who was diagnosed with leukemia in 2002, helped more than 1,000 patients get cheaper, unapproved medicine from India.
Lu was invited to the movie's premiere and, after he watched the whole film, Lu said it shows what happens when people can't afford the high price of imported drugs. He agreed with the message at the end of the movie that the situation was improving thanks to the recent efforts of government.
Actor Huang Xiaoming was also invited to the premiere, and he thought both the acting and the direction were fantastic. "Even though I'm not in the movie, as a filmmaker, I feel proud to watch this piece," he says.
Xu says Wen was born to be a director and he enjoyed the 88-day shoot. "It was like going back to the time when I started out on my acting journey, when I only focused on how to be a better actor."
Wang Chuanjun plays Lyu Shouyi in the film, a character who has leukemia and asks Cheng to start smuggling the medicine from India. His death in the film provides the turning point for Cheng to become a hero.
Wang lost 10 kilograms to play the role and stayed with leukemia patients to observe their daily life. He even kept awake for two whole days to get the right sense for shooting his death scene.
Starting with a limited release on June 30, Dying to Survive has so far grossed 150 million yuan ($22.6 million) for its first two days and achieved a rating of 9.5 out of 10 on online ticketing platform Tao Piaopiao.