Project Gutenberg (film)
Official film poster
|Directed by||Felix Chong|
|Produced by||Ronald Wong|
|Written by||Felix Chong|
|Music by||Day Tai-wai|
|Edited by||Curran Pang|
|Box office||$158.88 million|
Counterfeit artist Lee Man (Aaron Kwok) is extradited to Hong Kong from a Thailand jail. The Hong Kong police are investigating a series of murders and robberies involving counterfeit notes. The mastermind behind these crimes is a mysterious figure known only as "the Painter," who is the alleged head of his own counterfeit operation and Lee's boss. Lee refuses to expose Painter, insisting that his life will be in danger, but Inspector Ho (Catherine Chau) counters, claiming to have evidence linking Lee to the murders. The proceedings are interrupted by the arrival of noted artist Yuen Man (Zhang Jingchu), who attempts to have Lee freed on bail. An agreement is reached where Lee will be released into witness protection in exchange for exposing the identity of the Painter and recounting the history of their criminal activity.
During the 1990s, Lee and Yuen lived together in Vancouver as lovers and painters, but fail to sell any of their artworks and struggle to make ends meet. They have a reversal of fortune when an agent finds Yuen's artwork and recognises her artistic talent. However, Lee's own original art is criticized for only imitating the styles of the great masters. Lee realises his skill at imitation and reluctantly becomes an art forger to make a living, but Yuen disapproves.
Lee's work as a forger is noticed by the Painter (Chow Yun-fat), who invites Lee to join his counterfeit banknote operation. Frustrated at his own art's lack of success, Lee agrees to leave Canada with the goal of returning and winning over Yuen. Painter also offers to help Lee with his romantic ambitions. Working with Painter's team to overcome the security features of the new 1996 US 100-dollar bill, Lee finds success in his new role, but is reluctant to cooperate with Painter's erratic and often violent methods, especially after an intense armored car hijacking in Canada.
With their stock of new bills, Painter's team travel to Thailand to re-negotiate their contract with crime boss The General. Painter declines The General's terms and reveals that he has come to Thailand for revenge, knowing that The General was responsible for the death of Painter's father years earlier. During the destruction of the compound, Lee rescues Sau-ching, The General's own counterfeit expert. Meanwhile, Yuen has been making a successful career as an artist. When Painter and Lee visit one of her exhibitions, Painter informs Lee he has bought all the art, for Lee to decorate his new Thailand mansion and impress Yuen. Confused by Lee's negative reaction, Painter learns that Yuen is already engaged to marry her agent. Sau-ching joins Painter's team after recovering from her injuries. Painter gives her a fake passport with the name Yuen Man, to Lee's bemusement.
Painter learns that the next buyer for the counterfeit money is an undercover law enforcement agent. In the hotel room where the buyer meets Painter's team, Painter claims to want to exit the counterfeit business and offers to sell the buyer the printing plate. Lee is asked by Painter to retrieve the box containing the plate and offer the plate to the buyer, but the box only contains a handgun. The buyer sees a reflection of the gun while Lee hesitates and Painter is forced to shoot the buyer in the ensuing struggle. Frustrated with Lee's lack of willpower, Painter reveals that Yuen and her agent are bound and blindfolded in the next room. Painter insists that if Lee really wants Yuen in his life then he needs to prove it by killing the agent. When Lee refuses to do, Painter shoots the agent himself, causing Lee to angrily turn his gun at the Painter. Almost everybody is killed in the chaos that follows; Lee, Sau-ching and Yuen are the only survivors and the former two flee to Lee's new home in Thailand. The newspapers report that Painter's body was never found, and Lee is eventually arrested by the Thai police after being found with counterfeit banknotes. As he is being taken away, Lee sees Painter in a crowd waving at him, implying that he was the one that planted the counterfeits on Lee.
In present-day Hong Kong, Lee and Yuen are escorted to a hotel. Inspector Ho notices a man matching Lee's description of Painter who is dressed in uniform and attempting to enter police headquarters. He is ambushed and captured. Confused, the man insists he is a legitimate police officer, and was the driver who brought Lee Man from the airport to police HQ days earlier.
It is revealed that while the events of Lee's story are mostly accurate, Lee's description of Painter is fabricated and Lee himself was Painter all along. The real Yuen Man is painting in China, while the Yuen Man in Hong Kong is actually Sau-ching, who received cosmetic surgery to look like Yuen following the burns she received in the raid on The General's compound. Sau-ching had feelings for Lee, but then realised that Lee was only using her as a replica of the real Yuen Man, so she turned Lee to the police in Thailand for counterfeiting. While in prison, Lee wrote to Sau-ching asking for forgiveness and for her to help him escape, to which she eventually agrees. Lee and Sau-ching kill their guards and escape Hong Kong by boat.
The next day, Sau-ching reveals to Lee that she has been deliberately sailing in circles and they are still in Hong Kong waters. As the police surround them, she describes how she is tired of living with two identities as a replacement to Lee's love for Yuen Man, and detonates a cache of explosives on the boat.
Later in China, Inspector Ho visits Yuen Man to inform her that Painter has been killed. Yuen is indifferent to the news, saying that Painter's death will not do anything to bring back her fiancee. Asked if she recognizes Lee's photograph, Yuen simply states that the man used to be her neighbour: The part of Lee's story where he lived together with Yuen was also fabricated, and his obsession with her was no more than the unrequited love of a stranger.
- Chow Yun-fat as Ng Fuk-sang (吳復生) / Painter (畫家)
- Aaron Kwok as Lee Man (李問)
- Zhang Jingchu as Yuen Man (阮文)
- Joyce Feng as Sau-ching (秀清)
- Liu Kai-chi as Ng Yam (吳鑫)
- Catherine Chau as Inspector Ho Wai-lam (何尉藍)
- David Wang as Lee Wing-chit (李永哲)
- Alien Sun as Lam Lai-wah (林麗華)
- Deno Cheung as Bobby Wong (王波)
- Justin Cheung as Shum Sei-hoi (沈四海)
- Carl Ng as Mr. Lok (駱先生)
- Alex Fong as Deputy Commissioner Ho (何副處長) (guest appearance)
- Jack Kao as General (將軍) (guest appearance)
- Xing Jiadong as General's henchman (guest appearance)
- Dominic Lam as a painting merchant
- Javier Hernandez
- Diego España
- Daniel Jaquez
- Jason Moehring
- Rick Pokrajen-Harmon
- Dmitry Mazur as auction bidder
Production for Project Gutenberg began in Hong Kong on 15 May 2017 where a blessing ceremony was held. On 18 May 2017, which was also lead actor Chow Yun-fat's 62nd birthday, filming took place at Shing Fung Film Studio in Ho Chung, Sai Kung. Aside from Hong Kong, the film was also scheduled for location shooting taking place in Canada and Thailand.
Director Felix Chong revealed that because the story revolves around a counterfeit organisation and would involve the process of printing counterfeit bills, the script originally contained eight steps describing the printing process, but was later increased to twenty steps to bring more excitement for audiences. Chong also obtained a 7-ton real currency press, which cost HK$100,000, which was able to create realistic looking counterfeit currency, which had to be reported to the Monetary Authority. Alan Mak, a frequent collaborator of Chong, served as the film's art director.
Distribution Workshop handling its local Hong Kong distribution and international distribution rights for Project Gutenberg. Emperor Motion Pictures co-distributed the film in Hong Kong as well as handling its distribution rights across Asia, while A Really Happy Film also co-distributed in Hong Kong. The film has been licensed to GSC Movies for theatrical distribution in Malaysia, Shaw Renters and Mm2 Entertainment for theatrical distribution in Singapore and Celestial Tiger Entertainment for pay-TV in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. In addition, the film will also license to other territories at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival.
On 17 May 2018, the film released its first teaser trailer, displaying a slated release date of 30 September 2018. On 22 August 2018, a second trailer was released, with a new release date of 4 October 2018.
On 27 August 2018, a press conference of the film was held in the form of an currency distribution ceremony held in the Former Central Police Station in Hong Kong where $5000 Hong Kong currency props were showcased and was attended by the cast and crew members.
Awards and nominations
|13th Asian Film Awards||Best Actor||Aaron Kwok||TBA|
|Best Screenplay||Felix Chong||TBA|
|Best Film Editing||Curran Pang||TBA|
|Best Costume Design||Man Lim-chung||TBA|
|Best Visual Effects||Alex Lim||TBA|
|25th Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards||Best Director||Felix Chong||Nominated|
|Best Screenplay||Felix Chong||Nominated|
|Best Actor||Chow Yun-fat||Nominated|
|Best Actress||Catherine Chau||Nominated|
|Film of Merit||Project Gutenberg||Won|
- "【最新香港預告】《無雙》Project Gutenberg - 10月4日全城防偽".
- "Chow Yun-fat, Aaron Kwok Star in China's 'Project Gutenberg'". Variety. May 17, 2017. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
The film is a Hong Kong-China co-production
- "'Project Gutenberg' ('Mouh seung'): Film Review". Hollywoodreporter.com.
In Cantonese and Putonghua
- "【同金管局申報】新戲講偽鈔集團 莊文強：試印「高質鈔」".
- "Daily Box Office > China". EntGroup. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
- "'Project Gutenberg': Tokyo Review". screendaily.com. 28 October 2018. Retrieved 10 November 2018.
- "周潤發郭富城再度合作做敵人 鬥智鬥力印銀紙".
- "【《蘋果》獨家直擊】發嫂片場搞百人宴 城城領唱 賀發哥62歲生日".
- "Cannes: Chow Yun-fat, Aaron Kwok Star in Hong Kong Action Film 'Project Gutenberg'".
- "CHOW YUN FAT CELEBRATES HIS BIRTHDAY ON THE SET".
- "【英雄本色前傳？】周潤發重演Mark哥銀紙點煙 城城似偽鈔師良鳴".
- "【無雙】周潤發變偽鈔黨主腦 孖郭富城印銀紙派錢益香港人".
- "13th Asian Film Awards Nominees Announced".