Donnie Yen’s ‘Sakra’ Heads for North American Release

Sakra, a big-budget martial arts fantasy directed and starring Donnie Yen, is heading for a North American theatrical and digital release.

Rights to the film were acquired by WellGo USA which is a major stateside purveyor of Chinese and other Asian titles.

The company has set dates in April for a theatrical outing, shortly followed by a release to digital platforms, according to an emailed conversation with its president and CEO Doris Pfardrescher. Other details of its release and marketing campaign have yet to be finalized.

The film, a mainland China-Hong co-venture, was released in theaters in several territories in Southeast Asia in late January in time for the Lunar New Year holiday peak season. In China, it did not join the New Year scramble for screens and instead was released straight to streaming.

Yen previously described “Sakra” as the most authentic film he had ever made and came at a time in his lengthy career when he only wished to make movies that moved the needle.

He was approached with the project by Chinese producer Wu Weijie, chairman of Beijing Wishart Media and was sufficiently enamored of the project about two mortal enemies and their common love, that he took on not only the lead acting role, but also came on board as producer, action choreographer and director.

The story is adapted from the historical novel “Demi Gods and Semi-Devils” by the master of the wuxia genre Louis Cha. Cha, who died in 2018, created a compelling synthesis of Chinese history and action that still vast number so fans.

“These types of novels and literature go way back thousands of years. This has always been part of our culture. Like in the West, you look at the Greek mythologies,” Yen told Variety last year. “This one is definitely the answer to Marvel movies. These heroes, epics and moral stories are 100 times deeper.”

Yen brought with him his personal martial arts, stunt, costume and creative crews including: choreographer Yu Kang, make-up and design star Thomas Chong Chi-leung, cinematographer Chen Zhiying and editor Li Ka Wing. Wong Jing, one of Hong Kong’s most prolific and successful directors and producers, produced.

Alongside Yen, “Sakra” boasts co-stars including antagonist Yu Wue (“Ip Man 4,” “The Chinese Pilot”) as well as Cya Liu (star of the recent “Limbo”), veteran Kara Hui (“Wu Xia,” “The Bold, The Corrupt, The Beautiful”) and the fast-rising Chen Yuqi (“The Princess Weiyoung,” “Heavenly Sword and Dragon Slaying Sabre”).

International sales are handled by Mandarin Entertainment.

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