Lu Chuan Goes Period with 鸿门宴 (The Hongmen Banquet)

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Lu Chuan Goes Period with 鸿门宴 (The Hongmen Banquet)
With only three films in the can, and three quite varied and eclectic ones at that (a black comedy, a Tibet-themed quasi-documentary, and a gritty and poignant portrait of the Nanjing Massacre), Lu Chuan has quickly become one of the most important voices in current Mainland Cinema. Right as his latest, masterful 南京! 南京! (City of Life and Death) is still garnering praise around the world, the son of renowned novelist Lu Tianming has already announced his next project, and we're dealing with an interesting concept, not to mention his first venture into bonafide historical drama.

Starlight International and China Film are in fact set to produce 鸿门宴 (The Hongmen Banquet) - title is just a direct translation - which will tell the story of one of Chinese history' most famous nights, when general Xiang Yu and future Han Dynasty founder Liu Bang met on a fateful night, filled with intrigue, resentment and the same strategy games which made this period so fascinating. So Lu goes once again against the current, by focusing on a specific event and what will likely be a character-intensive thriller, instead of focusing on much broader themes, and throwing huge battle scenes in the pot like many a recent Chinese historical epic. In today's press conference, Lu said that although casting hasn't started yet, he would like to work again with Jiang Wen - who headlined
寻枪 (The Missing Gun) - and cast him as Liu Bang, but also Qin Lan (who played Mrs. Tang in City of Life and Death) as his partner. He also mentioned Chen Kun and Liu Ye, but of course nothing is set in stone yet.

The most interesting tidbit is that Lu said he will focus more on history, seen through a modern - or post-modern, I suppose - perspective, a most welcome approach to the theme - John Woo promised a return to the text's historical roots before
赤壁 (Red Cliff) and look at what happened, but I'd trust Lu to deliver on that promise a lot more. The film's script is being written as we speak, so we'll soon hear more developments on its cast - shooting will start next summer for a late 2010 release. Lu Chuan directing an intrigue-filled Three Kingdoms flick? Sold.

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Matthew LeeDecember 15, 2009 5:37 PM

Thank Christ he didn't keep that particular promise. Sorry, X, I can see why you wouldn't care for it, but I adored both parts of Red Cliff, accuracy be damned. Not to mention Woo trying for historical veracity seems like a recipe for disaster in itself.


On topic, given he's decidedly three for three so far anything new from Lu Chuan is cause for cheering, and I admit I'd love to see someone do something other than a popcorn war film with the mythos.

EmilDecember 15, 2009 6:15 PM

Hi Guys,

I think it's a bit misleading to so strongly reference the Three Kingdoms in the title of this post. The founding of the Western Han dynasty is referenced in Luo Guanzhong's epic but it is told in reference to similarity between historical and present day (within the bounds of the text) characters, not as part of the narrative. In other words, the aforementioned banquet occurs some 400+ years before the narrative kicks off.

I have just finished reading this 2000+ page epic and I don't recall the aforementioned banquet scene, which is not to say that it didn't occur but rather if it does, it isn't significant to the narrative.

EDIT: I found reference to the Hongmen Banquet in chapter 21. Cao Cao, having tea with Liu Bei and upon the offer of a swordplay performance by Guan Yu and Zhang Fei asks "Not another Hongmen, I hope?".

Regardless, thank you for the post - I'm looking forward to the film.

XDecember 15, 2009 7:07 PM

Ooops.... Just confused Liu Bang with Liu Bei. Need to stop watching 3-4 Chinese historical dramas at the same time. Thanks for pointing out (although the last bit is just general chatter about current Chinese epics, not about the period itself, if you were wondering). But... oh, the Hong Gate feast is a real historical event, not fictional stuff like Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Matthew LeeDecember 15, 2009 7:12 PM

Whereas my reaction is just me being dumb and assuming this must be some different way of spelling the character's name. Blame too much playing Dynasty Warriors and never actually finishing the text itself.