Zhang created the character of Tao, the film's heroine (played by rising mainland actress Zhang Jingchu), based on these stories.
Tao is a Vietnamese girl who was traumatized when she was 4 years old and witnessed her father being killed by an American land mine in the 1970s.
Twenty years later she migrates to a border town in China and works in her aunt's massage parlor. The child-like girl there meets two men who both fall in love with her. Her choice between the poor Chinese bachelor and the old Vietnamese mafia lord has a lasting impact on all three.
Hong Kong actor Nick Cheung, just honored as Best Actor in the Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards, plays Xia the bachelor and veteran actor Danny Lee is Xia Ba the gangster.
The film, which will premiere on April 10, features not only the stunning scenery of the Red River area, but also the Vietnamese folk songs, sung by Zhang herself.
"Red River is connected with The Lover in some way, but every director has his or her own style," Zhang says. "I am confident in my film's topic, depth and the relationship between the characters."