PANG Ho-Cheung

PANG Ho-Cheung
With Hong Kong director PANG Ho-cheung after interviewing him in 2012

Saturday, February 09, 2008

ACF 068: Happy Birthday Ziyi Zhang!

Ziyi Zhang as The Empress Wan
in
Legend of the Black Scorpion

Today marks the 29th birthday of Chinese actress Ziyi Zhang. She trained as a dancer, but gave it up and later studied at the China Central Drama College in Beijing, her birthplace. Her first noteworthy role was as Zhao Di, the young woman who's determined to marry the new teacher who comes to her village in Zhang Yimou's The Road Home (1999). Her career skyrocketed with Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon the following year. Her dance training served her well in that film's many martial arts sequences, and she at least held her own opposite costars Chow Yun-fat and Michelle Yeoh.

She's also worked with director Tsui Hark in The Legend of Zu (2001), his unfortunately inferior remake of his own Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain; Wong Kar-wei in 2046; Seijin Suzuki in his Princess Racoon (2005), and Robert Marshall in Memoirs of a Geisha (2005). She also re-teamed with Zhang Yimou for Hero (2002) and House of Flying Daggers (2004).

Impressive barely begins to describe her career to date.

Incidentally, Legend of the Black Scorpion, from which the picture above comes, will be coming out on a two-disc Ultimate Edition DVD set from Dragon Dynasty on February 26th, 2008. The film is a variation on Shakespeare's Hamlet, set in China circa 907 AD. Ziyi Zhang (billed as Zhang Ziyi, as her name is said in Chinese order)plays the step-mother of Crown Prince Wu Luan, the Hamlet figure.

I saw it at its New York premiere at the the Subway Cinema's New York Asian Film Festival last summer. At that time it was known by its international English title The Banquet. I'm hoping to get a screener of the upcoming DVD release, but if not I'll at least put a review of the film prior to the DVD's street date.

So, once again, "Happy Birthday Ziyi Zhang!" Best wishes for health, happiness, and a long career at least as lustrous as it's been so far.

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