Chinese director Zhang Yimou, the celebrated filmmaker behind such visually arresting epics as Hero and House of Flying Daggers, returns to cinema screens early next year with The Great Wall, a historical epic set 1000 years ago that explores the “true” reasons behind the construction of the Great Wall of China.
Yimou’s latest effort finds him teaming up with a major Hollywood production studio for the first time ever, with Legendary Pictures ponying up a whopping $135 million, making The Great Wall the most expensive film production ever to be shot completely in China. It’s also Yimou’s first English-language feature, headlined by a cast that includes Matt Damon, Willem Dafoe and Game of Thrones star Pedro Pascal.
You can check out the first trailer for The Great Wall right here.
Despite the fact that The Great Wall is clearly a monster movie, Yimou tells Entertainment Weekly that he still wanted everything to feel authentic:
“The film takes place about 1,000 years ago. At its core, it is a period piece and an action film. The fantasy element does play a major role because of the monsters. But, what makes our film unique is that these are ancient Chinese monsters. Even though it’s a fantasy movie, we filmed it in a very realistic way. We want it to feel like the events actually happened. Other than the monster, all aspects of this film are backed by either scientific or historical research.”
And while Yimou acknowledges that this film was made in the style of a traditional Hollywood blockbuster, he also wanted to ensure that he incorporated elements of Chinese culture into The Great Wall to help it stand out:
“I brought in many unique Chinese elements, such as the use of color, the design of weapons, the battle formations and strategy, the battle drums, as well as the design of the palace. Of course we also did a lot of work on making the Great Wall unique. I wanted it to feel like an aircraft carrier on land. To defeat it and cross it will be nearly impossible. Also, I really like having strong female characters in my film, so I especially created a unique unit of brave female warriors.”
But even though our heroes are squaring off against fantastical beings, don’t expect them to have special abilities of their own, as Yimou tells EW he thinks there are “too many people with superpowers” in today’s films, and he wanted to do something that felt a bit more realistic – at least on the human side of things.
In addition to the new trailer, EW also posted a series of images from the film that showcase its stars, and also hint at the colossal scope of The Great Wall.
Also starring Jing Tian, Hanyu Zhang, Eddie Peng, Lu Han, Kenny Lin, Junkai Wang, Zheng Kai, Cheney Chen, Xuan Huang, and Andy Lau, The Great Wall opens in 3D (of course) on February 17, 2017.
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