CHINA / Face to Face

Jay Chou impresses Zhang Yimou
Updated: 2006-03-22 16:09

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".

Director Zhang Yi Mou (R) and main cast of Gong Li (C) and Chow Yun-fat meet the press in Beijing March 11, 2006. [sina]
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.

"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 Zhang,

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 Zhang's film.

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 the future."

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.


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