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Set to stun

By Xu Fan | China Daily | Updated: 2018-07-12 07:54
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Asura is set in a fictional world, and more than 1,800 crew members from 35 countries worked on the big-budget Chinese production. [Photo provided to China Daily]

Following The Monkey King 3, which was released in February, and Animal World, which came out at the end of June, Asura is the latest epic to exemplify these efforts.

With around 2,400 special-effects scenes, the 141-minute Asura was shot on 30 soundstages covering an entire area of more than 80,000 square meters.

American actor Matthew Knowles, who stars as Rawa, the biggest and strongest warrior of the rebel force in the film, recalls he was stunned when he first walked into a film set in North China's Hebei province in 2016.

"It blew me away. I had never seen any film anywhere near this kind of scale. After talking to the director, I knew that I wanted to be a part of this film-which looks set to be a milestone in Chinese cinema," says Knowles.

The movie features a number of spectacular vistas and bizarre creatures. For instance, the ruthless Asura king invents a gruesome torture device to split the captured resistance fighters into half, where one half transforms into a giant dragonfly-like creature and the other turns into a "slave", with no head or heart.

"The flying creatures are called remnants. We (the characters of rebel troops) call them with whistles and they come to pick us up and carry us into battle," Knowles explains further.

Unlike most Chinese fantasy films, most of the warriors and villagers in Asura are played by foreign actors. Speaking about the international cast, Knowles thinks it symbolizes the norm for the movie world.

"There are people of all colors and races. Asura is a Mandarin-speaking world instead of an English one. All the characters speak Mandarin well. I think it is a breakthrough for a Chinese film to have such an international mindset," adds Knowles, who studied at the Beijing Film Academy in 2013 and speaks Mandarin fluently.

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