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Hook, line and sinker

When action director Dante Lam fell for a movie idea about a Chinese rescue team, it took him a full five years to realize his dream on a truly epic scale, Xu Fan reports.

By Xu Fan | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-01-16 08:21
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Scenes from the upcoming film The Rescue, which opens in Chinese cinemas on Jan 25, the first day of Lunar New Year. The movie centers around an elite team of operatives from China Rescue and Salvage.[Photo provided to China Daily]

When Dante Lam saw a six-minute clip of a documentary about marine rescue and salvage in 2014, the Hong Kong director-best known for his action blockbusters-was instantly hooked.

In the footage produced by China Rescue and Salvage, a national force administrated by the Ministry of Transport, Lam saw three rescuers descending down a steel rope hanging out of a helicopter hovering over the raging sea.

Facing off against turbulent waves, the rescuers risked their lives to save the screaming passengers and crew trapped on the hull of a sinking cargo ship, two-thirds of which was already submerged underwater.

"I watched the clip over and over again. It was extremely dangerous and I really admired the courage of the rescuers. It felt so thrilling to see the destructive power of nature, which I realized I could easily paint as the ultimate 'villain' in a movie," Lam says in an interview with China Daily.

His previous directorial forays, 2016's Operation Mekong and 2018's Operation Red Sea, yielded box office hauls of 1.19 billion yuan ($172 million) and 3.65 billion yuan, respectively, with the latter reaching the top of the box office charts. Lam is, to date, the highest-grossing Hong Kong director in Chinese-language cinema.

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