This week sees the opening of the renowned filmmaker Zhang Yimou’s action-fantasy The Great Wall. His first English-language production and the largest film ever shot entirely in China.
FILM: THE GREAT WALL
CAST: Matt Damon, Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal, Willem Dafoe, Andy Lau
DIRECTOR: Zhang Yimo
Directed by one of the most noted visual stylists of our time, Zhang Yimou (‘Raise the Red Lantern’, ‘Hero’, ‘House of Flying Daggers’), the action-fantasy ‘The Great Wall’ marks the filmmaker’s first English-language production and the largest film ever shot entirely in China. To create ‘The Great Wall’, Yimou has assembled a formidable cast and filmmaking team that represents “the best of East and West” in a unique global production that delivers “unmissable spectacle on the grandest scale.”
In ‘The Great Wall’, Damon stars as William Garin, a battle-scarred mercenary and master archer taken captive by a secret army of elite warriors known as The Nameless Order. In a vast military outpost called the Fortress City, they fight to protect humanity from supernatural forces upon one of the greatest defensive structures ever built: The Great Wall. On his journey, Garin is joined by Pedro Pascal (TV’s ‘Narcos’ and ‘Game of Thrones’) as his sword-wielding sidekick, Pero Tovar, a tough, wise-cracking Spaniard who has become a brother-in-arms to William; and two-time Oscar-nominee Willem Dafoe (‘Platoon’, ‘Shadow of the Vampire’) as Ballard, a shadowy prisoner inside the fortress who plans his escape from his longtime captors while hoping to pilfer their greatest weapon during his getaway.
Top-lining the production’s esteemed, superstar Chinese cast are a widely celebrated Asian industry veteran and one of its rising new stars. The renowned Hong Kong actor Andy Lau (‘House of Flying Daggers’, ‘Infernal Affairs’) reunites with director Zhang as Strategist Wang, the sage alchemist inside the fortress, whose clever inventions help its inhabitants keep the monstrous forces at bay. He is joined by breakout actress Jing Tian (‘Special ID’, ‘Police Story 2013’) as Lin Mae, the fearless fighter and leader of the fortress’ balletic, gravity-defying aerial warriors, the all-female Crane Corps. In turn, she ultimately rises to command the outpost’s entire military faction, The Nameless Order, against the creature attacks.
The adventure comes from an original screenplay by the writing duo Carlo Bernard and Doug Miro (‘Prince of Persia’, ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’) and Tony Gilroy (‘Michael Clayton’, ‘The Bourne Legacy’). It is based on a story by Max Brooks (‘World War Z’) and Edward Zwick and Marshall Herskovitz (‘The Last Samurai’, ‘Love & Other Drugs’).
‘The Great Wall’ was filmed entirely on location in China, the largest Hollywood co-production ever mounted in the world’s fourth-largest country.
FILM: A CURE FOR WELLNESS
CAST: Dane DeHaan, Jason Isaacs Mia Goth, Celia Imrie, Harry Groener
DIRECTOR: Gore Verbinski
From director Gore Verbinski comes ‘A Cure For Wellness’, a “chilling and mind-bending psychological thriller.” Dane DeHaan stars as Lockhart, a driven Wall Street stockbroker who is sent by his firm to a remote Alpine medical spa. Lockhart is on a mission to retrieve the company’s CEO, Pembroke (Harry Groener), a patient at the spa, who has told his staff that he has no intention of returning to New York. Lockhart arrives at the tranquil sanitarium where the residents are supposedly receiving a miracle cure. In fact though, they seem to be getting sicker. As he investigates the dark and baffling secrets behind the spa, he meets a young woman, the hauntingly beautiful Hannah (Mia Goth), a patient herself. He also gets to know another patient, the eccentric Mrs. Watkins, played by Celia Imrie, who has done some detective work of her own. Soon, Lockhart is diagnosed with the same condition as the other patients by the institution’s director, the ominous Dr. Volmer (Jason Isaacs), and finds that he is trapped in the alpine retreat. Lockhart begins to lose his grip on reality and has to endure unimaginable ordeals during the course of his own “treatment”.
In the tradition of Verbinski’s indelible 2002 classic, ‘The Ring’, the Academy Award winning filmmaker brings his “inimitable style and vision” to ‘A Cure For Wellness’. Atmospheric and visually breathtaking, the film sets out to explore the true meaning of wellness and the trappings of avarice and power, while asking what fulfilment really means.
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