Chinese blockbuster director Zhang Yimou is no stranger to casting Hollywood A-listers in his projects since wooing Christian Bale for his 2011 epic The Flowers of War
. While that film made huge bank in China, it failed to make the desired impact overseas. Zhang is hoping that his latest opus, The Great Wall,
will do better internationally, packing it with stars from home and abroad.
Matt Damon and Andy Lau head an all-star cast that also includes Willem Dafoe and Games of Thrones scene-stealer Pedro Pascal, as well as Chinese star performers Zhang Hanyu (The Taking of Tiger Mountain), Eddie Peng (Unbeatable, Rise of the Legend), Jing Tian (Special ID, From Vegas To Macau), boy band idol Lu Han and a host of others, including Lin Gengxin, Zheng Kai, Chen Xuedong, Huang Xuan, Wang Junkai, Yu Xintian and Liu Qiong.
Set in the 15th Century, The Great Wall is the story of an elite force of soldiers who must defend the titular battlement - and the Earth - from an attack by giant mythical creatures. Originally slated to be directed by Edward Zwick (The Last Samurai, Blood Diamond), The Great Wall is based on an idea by screenwriter Max Brooks (World War Z) and Legendary Entertainment's chief Thomas Tull. Final screenplay credits go to Zwick and Tony Gilroy as well as Doug Miro, Carlo Bernard and Marshall Herskovitz.
Frankly speaking the film sounds insane, like a period Chinese do-over of Legendary's own Pacific Rim, but should it deliver, it could be great fun. Variety states in no uncertain terms that the production "is being positioned as the largest film ever to shoot entirely in China for global distribution" - so I'm guessing they are going to be going all-out to get this one right.
I am genuinely excited by Zhang's gradual move over to Hollywood, as he seems to be the only one of China's current top-tier directors who knows how to make blockbusters the rest of the world can relate to. Produced by Tull's Asian offshoot Legendary East, The Great Wall could well prove that oh-so elusive crossover hit that China has been so desperately chasing.
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