While one giant robot movie is rounding out a disappointing opening weekend, another continues to announce cast members a year ahead of its own release. This morning, Michael Bay welcomed Asian superstar Han Geng into the fold of Transformers 4, in which he’ll join a cast consisting of Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci, Nicola Peltz, Kelsey Grammar, Sophia Myles and fellow China-based actress Li Bingbing. Han is a singer and actor who can be seen heading up his country’s second highest-grossing domestic release of 2013, So Young (it’s neck and neck with top-grossing Hollywood import, Iron Man 3, and both are now in the top ten of all time there). To give you an idea of how popular he is, just peruse YouTube’s many abridged yet still lengthy versions of the college drama featuring only Han’s scenes.
Before becoming a movie star, Han got his start as a member of the South Korean boy band Super Junior, in which he was also known as “Hankyung.” Through the group he got his first major film appearance alongside the other guys in the 2007 Korean high school movie Attack of the Pin-Up Boys and later got his first lead role in My Kingdom in 2011 (the year the last Transformers sequel, Dark of the Moon, was the top-grossing movie in China). Meanwhile, he’s continued to be a recording star with a solo career following a legal battle to get out of his Super Junior contract. Among his hit singles is a song released this year for the Chinese soundtrack for the film Cloud Atlas. The track is actually called “Cloud Atlas” and is considered its theme song over there (I’ve also seen it referred to by the title “A Beautiful Man,” but I think that is incorrect).
So, I thought it a good way for those of us in the U.S. to get our first taste of Han’s talents by watching the “Cloud Atlas” music video, which features the star intercut with scenes from the movie. And I found a version with English subtitles if you’re interested in the translation of the lyrics.
It’s quite interesting that Bay and Paramount Pictures are bringing more Chinese talent onto the production. Obviously the point is to appeal to the audiences in China, but the Transformers series has already been an enormous success in the People’s Republic. The first installment was the highest money maker in cinemas there in 2007. The first sequel, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, came in second place for 2009 (just a smidgen under 2012). And as noted above, Transformers: Dark of the Moon led the box office in 2011. Perhaps the studio is aiming to be the highest-grossing of all time in China? Currently the film sitting on that throne is Avatar.