The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom is set to lure viewers with its romantic story and dazzling visual effects.
A splashy 3-D mix of martial arts and romance aims to draw a record audience at theaters this weekend Cheap James Reimer Jersey , Wang Kaihao reports.

To celebrate this Saturday's Qixi Festival, known as Chinese Valentine's Day, big screens in China will offer a gift for audiences: a touching romance epic.

A 3-D remake of wuxia (martial arts and chivalry) fantasy The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom will be released on July 31-the most expensive film in this summer's Chinese market with a budget of about 100 million yuan ($16.2 million). It features two of the most popular Chinese movie stars, actor Huang Xiaoming and actress Fan Bingbing.

Set in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), there is a great love between these two, mixed with a demonic cult and a vendetta. This common theme in wuxia stories will hardly surprise the audience, though its supernatural elements may be thrilling.

Developed from a script by legendary Hong Kong novelist Liang Yusheng, filmmakers are well-aware of the many previous adaptations for both cinema and TV since the 1980s. Among them, the 1993 movie The Bride With White Hair was generally considered to be a classic.

"We definitely have something new," director Jacob Cheung says of the premiere of the new film. "The script was thoroughly changed 20 times to give it a fresh feeling. We even wrote a different ending from the original one."

Veteran Hong Kong director Cheung took full advantage of new technologies during filming and post-production. Special effects were used in more than 800 scenes.

His Hong Kong crew shines thanks to the hiring of kung fu movie guru Tsui Hark (as the art consultant) and award-winning art designer Tim Yip.

"The Western world is familiar with The Lord of the Rings. We will try to inform the world we have White Haired Witch in the East," he says, confident he can tell a story based on an uncommon fantasy topic in China's wuxia literature.

Lead actor Huang Xiaoming (second from left) and actress Fan Bingbing (second from right) attend the premiere of The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom in Beijing.

But producer Yu Dong, head of Bona Film Group, is reluctant to make a precise prediction of ticket sales.

"We are only eager for a good result," Yu says. "But it will surely set a new record in terms of the Qixi Festival's movie market. It is rare in summer to see a domestic blockbuster with such a large budget, big scenes and grand narrative."

He previously predicted Bona's highly anticipated road movie The Continent, released last week, would earn 800 million yuan at the box office. Although the film's takings of 285 million yuan by the end of last weekend is good, considering the tough competition with other films, he confesses the final takings will probably be 600 million yuan.

Few Chinese fantasy movies have achieved both box-office and critical success in the past decade.

In 2005, Chen Kaige's The Promise lifted the curtain on the country's fantasy blockbuster, but this famed director and his all-star cast were lambasted by critics and were later widely scorned by the public thanks to a popular spoof video online.

The Monkey King, a 3-D adaption from the 16th-century Chinese novel Journey to the West, earned more than 1 billion yuan in ticket sales around the last Spring Festival, and remains the highest-grossing film this year. Nevertheless, it scored a miserable 4.2 points out of 10 on Douban, the nation's major film-review website.

Perhaps, for a movie targeted at people who flock to cinemas to celebrate their own romance, all these concerns do not matter. Fan Bingbing, who claims to be single, said at the premiere: "We usually pursue common and simple love in daily life. So, why not enjoy some strong and bizarre romance this time in the movie?"

Fan Bingbing plays the lead role in The White Haired Witch of Lunar Kingdom.

BEIJING, Aug. 2 (Xinhua) -- It's good to see neither Russia nor the United States were swayed by impulsive feelings to face off with each other over the sensitive Snowden incident.

Russia granted U.S. intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden only one year's temporary asylum, while White House spokesman Jay Carney avoided aggressive rhetoric after Moscow announced the decision.

Letting Snowden in from Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport could be considered the result of more than one months' wrestling between Moscow and Washington publicly and under the table.

The Russian decision could not be seen as hasty given the arrogant U.S. attitude, as Washington did not submit any formal request to Moscow to extradite Snowden during the past 40 days.

With the controversy raised by recent trial of U.S. Army private Bradley Manning, who was convicted of leaking information and faces up to 136 years in prison, it is not a bad public relations tactic for Moscow to grant asylum to Snowden.

Nevertheless, the Snowden incident has so far been a hot topic rather than the "last straw" to break the back of the chronically-strained Russia-U.S. ties, as both sides share a wide range of practical interests.

Some even suggest letting Snowden in and facilitating his eventual move to a third country could clear the way for the possible summit between Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama this September.

Since the bilateral ties are now at such a low ebb that both sides differ deeply on the issues of missile defense, nuclear disarmament, international conflicts and counterterrorism, it is hard for them to get more worse.

However, in this fundamentally inter-connected world, neither side would want to head back to the days of the Cold War.

What's urgently needed now is for the United States to stop spying on citizens of other countries illegally, often under the excuse of fighting terrorism, and reflect on its wrong dee.