Ho Cheuk Tin’s feature directorial debut had earned $4.6 million (HK$37 million) at the Hong Kong box office as of December 12, following its October 27 premiere.
It held the top slot from November 28 to December 10 (excluding December 4), despite competition from Hollywood blockbusters Black Adam and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, as well as local film Hong Kong Family.
The crime thriller is based on the high-profile case of a young guy who brutally murdered and mutilated his parents in 2013 with the assistance of a friend. The 138-minute video focuses on their trial while discussing topics of law and justice.
It is the first picture produced by filmmaker Philip Yung, whose Where The Wind Blows is Hong Kong’s Oscar entry. Yung’s associate director was Ho.
Golden Scene is the theatrical distributor for The Sparring Partner in Hong Kong and Macau, while Mei Ah Entertainment handles international sales. The Hong Kong Film Development Fund helped fund a portion of the film.
“Cinemas may be cautious, only allocating extra screenings when a title does well,” Golden Scene creator Winnie Tsang told Screen. “The picture did better in the second week than the first, thanks to favourable word of mouth and a robust marketing approach.” Even more rare is that the third and fourth weeks continued to outperform the preceding week.”
To date, The Sparring Partner ranks fourth among Hong Kong titles in 2022, after Warriors Of Future, Table For Six, and Mama’s Affair. After Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution (2007) and Christopher Sun’s 3D Sex And Zen: Extreme Ecstasy, it is also the third highest-ranking title of all time in Hong Kong among Chinese-language films with a stringent category III rating (2011).
Due to the violence and nudity, the Sparring Partner is categorised as category III for those aged 18 and up.
The film had its international premiere on August 30 at the Hong Kong International Film Festival, where Mak Pui-tung, who plays the murderer’s accomplice, earned the Golden Firebird best actor award.
Beyond the Hong Kong, the film was distributed on November 18 in the United Kingdom by Trinity Cine Asia and on December 9 in the United States by Well Go USA Entertainment. It will next be available in Taiwan through Mei Ah’s Taiwan office, as well as in New Zealand and Australia through Applause Entertainment.
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