Matt Damon stars in Director Zhang Yimou‘s (House of Flying Daggers, Hero)The Great Wall, the most expensive movie made in China's film industry's history, and includes a mixture of well-known Chinese and Western actors. The estimated $135 million dollar historical fantasy film seems to feature a lot of intense action scenes, but the newly-released trailer didn't really reveal a clear answer to the question, "What were they trying to keep out?"
Watch the trailer:
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Yimou discussed the differences between Chinese and Hollywood's approach to movie making.
The biggest difficulty is the limited amount of time. In China, when I make a film of this scale, I would have five to five-and-a-half months. This time, we only had four-and-a-half months. And of course, we also had to take the weekends off. In China we wouldn't do that. Of course, we do take breaks on Chinese films, but not this much. As for which specific sequence is the most difficult — I think filmmaking is the same throughout the world. If you want to do something great, nothing is easy.
Here's what the director said about the film's setting:
The film takes place about 1,000 years ago. At its core, it is a period piece and an action film. The fantasy element does play a major role because of the monsters. But, what makes our film unique is that these are ancient Chinese monsters. Even though it's a fantasy movie, we filmed it in a very realistic way. We want it to feel like the events actually happened. Other than the monster, all aspects of this film are backed by either scientific or historical research.
When asked about the pressures of making the film, he said:
Fortunately, I directed the 2008 Olympic Ceremonies. Perhaps there's nothing grander than that. So the size of a production doesn't make a difference to me. I didn't feel any pressure. But there are major difference between Eastern and Western culture. And this is reflected in every little detail in our work.
Yimou talked about his working relationship with the Western actors:
I am very fortunate to work with Matt Damon, Pedro Pascal, and Willem Dafoe on this project. They are wonderful actors and helped me tremendously. Especially Matt, who won an Oscar for screenwriting at such a young age — he is very creative and smart and contributed so much to the dialog. I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all three actors.
The film also stars Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones), Willem Dafoe (Platoon), Andy Lau (Infernal Affairs), pop singing icon Luhan, and actress Jing Tian (Kong: Skull Island)
The Great Wall is set to release in US theaters on February 27, 2017.