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Gong Li, Zhang Yimou Cooperate Again After Ten Years
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Chinese actress Gong Li has returned to Beijing to star in a new film by Zhang Yimou, the first time she has worked with the director again after ten years.


The title of the film, also starring Chow Yun-fat, translates as The City of Golden Armor. It is set in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) and is based on the renowned Chinese modern playwright Cao Yu's classic drama Thunderstorm.


The real English title will be revealed after conferring with the film's American distributor, Zhang Weiping, the film's producer and BNPEF's president, told Xinhua News Agency, without elaborating on the plot details.



The Beijing New Picture Edko Films (BNPEF), the film's investor, said the film's first scene, which takes place in the palace, would be shot in Beijing on Wednesday.


"The story of Thunderstorm and the setting of the Tang Dynasty epitomize the classic elements of ancient and modern Chinese culture, which easily attracts a Chinese and non-Chinese audience," he added.


Besides Gong and Chow, mainland actor Liu Ye and Taiwanese pop singer Jay Chou will also appear in the film.


Gong Li parted Zhang Yimou after appearing in 1995's Shanghai Triad, which ended their eight-film cooperation since 1987's Red Sorghum.


As Zhang gradually became a world-famous director, Gong carved a niche in Hollywood after appearing in Miami Vice, Young Hannibal: Behind the Mask and Memoirs of a Geisha.


Zhang Yimou considers Gong, in terms of acting among Chinese actresses, the "sole candidate for the role", which is crucial to the original drama and therefore to the film, Zhang told Xinhua.


The US$45 million film will become the most expensive film in China, surpassing the US$42.5 million The Promise, directed by Chen Kaige.


The film will be shot in Beijing, Southwest China's Sichuan Province and East China's Zhejiang Province and will be released at the end of this year, Zhang said, adding that his goal is to beat the American box office takings of Hero in 2004.


"China must make blockbusters to compete with Hollywood on the international film market," he said.


(Xinhua News Agency February 23, 2006)

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