China has been saved by an unlikely hero. Boston-bred Donnie Yen is the star of Flash Point, which opened wide on 500 screens and earned a cool $1.9 million, according to Variety Asia Online. In the US, that total would be a disaster, but it "thrilled" Virginia Leung, a senior distribution manager quoted in the story. The weekend earnings would jump the film to #19 on Box Office Mojo's list for the year so far. From all appearances an insane action picture made with the trademarked hyper-kinetic Hong Kong style, Flash Point will play in the Midnight Madness section at the upcoming Toronto film festival. Yen and director Wilson Yip will team again for Painted Skin, due to start filming later this year.

In South Korea, as Monica Bartyzel informed us earlier this week, monster movie D-War just missed beating the record-setting opening five-day numbers established by another monster flick, The Host. That builds on the success of another more serious local film, May 18, which opened the previous week and is based on the massacre in Gwangju, South Korea in 1980.

Other countries in Asia have been infected by Transformers fever, proving once again that bad taste recognizes no national boundaries. As reported by Variety Asia Online, Transformers opened this past Saturday on 600 screens and took more than $5 million from the hard-working people of Japan. No doubt rubbing his hands together in evil glee, the distributor estimates the film will top out at $59 million. Smaller in populace but no less subservient than anyone else in the world to the lure of a big dumb Hollywood action movie, Malaysians made Transformers the biggest film in local history, racking up more than $5 million over five weeks, while Michael Bay's baby has become the biggest non-sequel in Singapore box office history.