Jackie Chan and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s long delayed China-Russia fantasy film The Mystery of the Dragon Seal: Journey to China is finally headed to cinemas in the two countries.
The movie, directed by Russian filmmaker Oleg Stepchenko, wrapped production in Beijing back in February 2017 after lengthy on-again, off-again shoots in the U.K., Russia and China. It then became mired in postproduction for more than two years amid reports of disputes between the producing partners.
But the producers revealed Wednesday that the fantasy spectacle has finally secured a simultaneous release date in China and Russia on Aug. 16. No theatrical release plans have been unveiled for North America yet.
Journey to China is the first feature to co-star action legends Chan and Schwarzenegger, who play a master wizard and an imposing sea captain, respectively. The producers haven’t yet revealed whether the two face off in a fight scene.
The film is a sequel to Stepchenko’s 2014 film Forbidden Empire (also known as Viy), which was loosely based on a horror novella by Russian writer Nikolai Gogol. The first film starred British actor Jason Flemyng (Snatch, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) as an 18th century English explorer who travels east and encounters dark mysteries in a village nestled in impassable forests of Ukraine.
Forbidden Empire became a surprise box office sensation in Russia, earning just shy of $40 million. The producers then decided to go bigger with the sequel, positioning the film as a China-Russia co-production and bringing in Chan and Schwarzenegger.
Previously known as Viy 2: Journey to China or Journey to China: The Mystery of the Iron Mask, the sequel was budgeted at around $50 million, with the story’s action relocated to the border lands between Russia and China. The film is penned by Russian writer-producer Alexey Petrukhin and produced by Russia Film Group, China Film Group and Chan’s Sparkle Roll Media, among others. Chan also serves as a producer on the film.
The sequel again stars Flemyng as the English explorer, who this time is ordered by Peter the Great to map the Russian Far East. “Once again he sets out for a long journey full of incredible adventures that will eventually lead him to China,” reads the film’s official plot summary. “The cartographer will face many breathtaking discoveries, encounter bizarre creatures, meet with Chinese princesses, and confront deadly martial-arts masters and the Dragon King.”
Charles Dance, Rutger Hauer and Chinese triplet actors, the Luu brothers, co-star in the film. Chinese actress Anna Yao appears as the daughter of the master wizard played by Chan.