Zhang Yimou pic under way

Updated: 2013-09-02 15:04

By Liu Wei (chinadaily.com.cn)

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Zhang Yimou pic under way

Chinese director Zhang Yimou (R) speaks with filmmaker Tian Zhuangzhuang on the set of filming a new historical movie on the life of Yang Yuhuan, one of the Four Beauties of ancient China. Photo provided to China Daily

Zhang Yimou, one of the busiest film directors in China, is currently underway on his next project, another historical costume drama, according to his production company ESA Cultural Investment.

Zhang will co-direct the historical epic along with fellow fifth-generation filmmaker Tian Zhuangzhaung which is based on a legendary beauty who lived 1,400 years ago, said Zhao Chao, publicity director of ESA. She confirmed that filming had started on Sunday.

Le Vision Pictures, the company with which Zhang has signed a three-year contract with, said Zhang is more like a friend who will help Tian with some of the film's bigger scenes, for which he is more experienced at handling.

Zhang and Tian were fellow schoolmates while at the Beijing Film Academy. Zhang studied in the cinematography department from 1978-82, while Tian studied directing during the same period.

The film revolves around Yang Yuhuan, one of the Four Beauties of ancient China. Yang was a concubine of Emperor Xuanzong of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and her beauty was said to have caused a national war.

Mainland actress Fan Bingbing will play the title role, opposite Hong Kong actor Leno Lai, who will play the emperor. Veteran actress and director Joan Chan along with rising star Chun Wu will also star in the film.

Historical costume dramas are not unfamiliar territory with Zhang. In 2002, his film Hero, nominated for an Academy Award, topped mainland box offices and ushered in an era of historical Chinese blockbusters, featuring all-star casts set amidst opulent spectacles. Zhang has since made a few films within the genre and also returned to romance in Under the Hawthorn Tree in 2010. His last film was The Flowers of War set against the 1937 backdrop of the Nanking Massacre.

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