China's most respected director Zhang Yimou has praised the talents of
Taiwanese pop star Jay Chou, who is starring in Zhang's new film, which
translates as "Wearing Golden Armor Across the City".
At a press conference in Beijing on
Tuesday, Zhang, the renowned and controversial director of "Hero" and last
year's Oscar-nominated "House of Flying Daggers", expressed his satisfaction
with Chou after several days of filming.
Director Zhang Yi
Mou (R) and main cast of Gong Li (C) and Chow Yun-fat meet the
press in Beijing March 11, 2006.
"His performance has surpassed the atmosphere created by the original
script," Zhang said.
"Chou has surprised me with his sentimental expression. I expected he would
be OK with his cool appearance, but his performance has been beyond my
expectations. He is a successful singer now, and maybe he will become an
outstanding actor and even director."
Chou plays the role of the second prince whose lowly mother is banished from
the ancient Chinese palace. He becomes a general with powerful martial
accomplishments and seeks revenge for the treatment of his mother.
Zhang and his production partner Zhang Weiping said they chose Chou because
of his unique characteristics which suited the role.
"What impressed me most is that he acts and approaches the role with his
heart, the only in which an actor can strike a chord with the audience," said
Chou said that because of his character, he acts the role partly as himself.
Compared to his maiden film "Initial D", he said he faced more challenges in
He admitted to feeling the pressure and speaking clumsily due to working with
two internationally famed actors - Gong Li and Chow Yun-fat. "What I can do is
to learn my lines carefully," he said.
According to Zhang, Chou has finished some scenes since he joined filming on
March 15, and in a scene in which the prince and his miserable mother, played by
Gong Li, recognize each other, all the people on the spot were moved to tears.
Zhang revealed that on set Chou resembles a soldier on stand-by, usually
sitting on the sidelines, immersing himself in the role, reading his lines and
waiting for the action.
Chou, who has ambitions of being a director, said he had handed over a MTV
tape sung and directed by him to Zhang for advice.
Zhang described Chou's directing techniques as "very interesting", saying,
"With a latent capacity, Chou may surpass me in the accomplishment of my art in
Chou is expected to stay with Zhang for about 20 days and to compose and sing
the song played at the end of the film.
The film, based on famed Chinese modern playwright Cao Yu's drama
"Thunderstorm" set in the Tang Dynasty (618-907), involves a power struggle
between the emperor played by Chow, the empress played by Gong and Chou's
character, the prince.
Despite being a novice in the film world, Chou last year won best newcomer at
the Golden Horse Awards - a Taiwan-based film award - for his performance in
"Initial D" in which he plays a street car racer. He's nominated in the same
category for the Hong Kong Film Awards.