After a couple of smaller films, influential China director Zhang Yimou (Hero
) is back with an epic production. His latest work, the powerful historical war drama The Flowers of War
has attracted unprecedented worldwide attention for a Chinese film, due in part to the casting of Oscar-winning actor Christian Bale (The Dark Knight
). Budgeted at approximately US$100 million, the most expensive Chinese film ever managed to recoup its hefty cost at the local box office alone, and the success wasn't limited to home soil. Zhang's rousing tale of redemption and self-sacrifice has also been favored internationally; its critical recognition included a Best Foreign Language Film nomination at the Golden Globe Awards. Besides a gripping story, stunning war scenes, and lush period details, one of the most acclaimed aspects of the film is the introduction of a group of fresh new actors, most notably female lead Ni Ni, who had received two years of vigorous training in preparation for the production.
Adapted from the novel by renowned writer Yan Geling, The Flowers of War tells a deeply affecting story set during the tragic Nanjing Massacre in 1937, when the then-capital of China was brutally torn apart by the Japanese Imperial Army. One of the few places yet to be taken by the invaders is a Catholic cathedral, where a group of teenaged convent schoolgirls resides. Also seeking shelter there is an American mortician named John Miller (Christian Bale), followed by fourteen courtesans from the local brothel led by Yumo (Ni Ni), as well as Chinese soldier Li (Tong Dawei) and his wounded comrade. Their temporary and uneasy peace in the sacred sanctuary is soon shattered by the arrival of the Japanese army. Under the most harrowing circumstances, it's the desperate low-lives who rise to the occasion in an extraordinary display of bravery...