Andy Lau is perfectly, cheekily cast as a movie star seeking relevance via a film festival–baiting art-house role in director Ning Hao’s sharp satire of movie industry pretension.


Gala Presentations

The Movie Emperor

Ning Hao

Andy Lau is the consummate screen legend. With a career spent traversing genres, Lau has shown he can melt hearts, dispatch bad guys, and scale the heights of art house cinema. He is also one of Asia's biggest pop stars. And so he’s perfect to play a megastar looking for a change in this insightful send-up of the movie business from director Ning Hao.

Lau Wai-Chi (Lau) is a Hong Kong movie star with legions of devoted fans and a constant eye on his competition. His fame has drawn him inside an ever-tighter circle, where all he can do is keep his body perfect and worry what other star is snagging an award or a big role that should be his.

Vulnerable and sensing the need for a new image, Lau is persuaded to take the starring role in a humble indie drama where the protagonist is a village pig farmer. Lau and the director — played by Ning Hao himself — agree this foray into miserabilist cinema will be just what foreign film festivals crave.

As Lau begins the painstaking process of learning how to play the role convincingly, we witness a series of pitch-perfect take-downs of film industry pretension. Like Robert Altman's The Player, the satire here is merciless, but still allows for genuine feeling. Lau proves brilliantly adept at sending up the anxieties of millionaire movie stars while also revealing the sensitive soul of an artist. Smart, entertaining, and gorgeous to look at, The Movie Emperor is a joy to watch... especially at a festival.

Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival


Fri Sep 15

Roy Thomson Hall

Sat Sep 16

Scotiabank 1

Sat Sep 16

Scotiabank 1

Sun Sep 17

TIFF Bell Lightbox 1