John Woo and Jet Li
By Keen Zhang
Additional reporting by Fan Junmei
China.org.cn reporters were invited to a charity banquet held at Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Beijing on the evening of July 1st. The room radiated the aura of the famous director John Woo and his star-studded cast of the upcoming blockbuster film Red Cliff, including Tony Leung and Takeshi Kaneshiro. The banquet was aimed to promote the film, as well as to raise money for charity to give to victims of the devastating Sichuan earthquake that struck in May.
John Woo and his wife, accompanied by international kung fu star and One Foundation initiator Jet Li, entered the press hall together, smiling and waving to the crowd of reporters. Later at the dinner, Jet Li and John Woo exchanged compliments: Li asked for a role in Woo's next film while Woo said Li was his hero.
John Woo, famous for his Mission Impossible II and Face/Off in Hollywood, said he would like to give the role of Zhou Yu to Jet Li if the kung fu star wanted it. Tony Leung played the part this time in Woo's new epic.
Most of the cast didn't talk shop during the glamorous evening but the 80-million-dollar Red Cliff held a formal press conference later on Wednesday to promote the most expensive movie ever made in Asia.
Tonight, the film will premiere in Chengdu, the capital of China's quake-hit Sichuan Province and the former capital of the Shu Kingdom in the ancient "Three Kingdoms" era. Chengdu is strategically located for the story background in Woo's Three Kingdoms adaptation Red Cliff.
John Woo, Jet Li and Red Cliff staff at the charity event
This is the second film adaptation of the ancient Chinese classic Three Kingdoms made in 2008. Earlier this year, Hong Kong pop star Andy Lau starred in a film called Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon. It received mixed reviews and did not gross well at the box office.
Red Cliff is split into two episodes. The first 145-minute episode will hit Chinese screens on July 10. Industry observers predicted that the two episodes combined may gross over 500 million yuan at Chinese box offices, but the result remains to be seen since Chinese audiences have grown more and more skeptical toward any so-called Chinese blockbusters in recent years.