Upcoming Flix Spotlight: 13 Flowers of Nanjing

I just checked my Netflix queue and the next film scheduled to arrive is The House of Flying Daggers. I’m not much of a Kung Fu film fan but since someone told me it’s centered on a love story (love triangle no less) and that it looks amazingly beautiful, I’m intrigued.

On the same day I learned that Dager‘s acclaimed director Zhang Yimou’s first multi-lingual film (a mix of English and Chinese), 13 Flowers of Nanjing, has just begun principal photography. Yimou’s also known stateside for his work in Hero and Curse of the Golden Flower. This project was previously called Nanjing Heroes, which is based on Yan Geling’s novel The 13 Women of Nanjing. The subject matter alone is enough to get me to see this, but with Christian Bale starring, it naturally puts this on my most-anticipated list.

Here’s the synopsis from its press release via Collider:

13 Flowers of Nanjing is set in 1937 in Nanjing, China during Sino-Japanese war, where a few brave refugees find sanctuary in a Church compound.  The group, thrown together by the terrible chaos of war, risks their lives for the Church’s school children as they struggle to survive the violence and persecution brought on by the violent invasion of the city.  Through tremendous adversity, heroism presents itself among the least likely individuals as they bravely navigate their treacherous surroundings to try and save themselves and each other. 13 Flowers of Nanjing is a story of heroism and love: for those around you, for one’s family, and the love between an unlikely couple which fate brings together.

At first I thought Bale was going to portray John Rabe, the German businessman who sheltered more than 200,000 Chinese civilians during the Nanjing massacre, whose story recently been adapted to a movie with his name. But as this Telegram.com article reported, the Welsh actor will star as an American priest (John Magee) who presided over a Catholic church that shelters a group of prostitutes and young female students during the Japanese invasion. I’m thrilled that two of my all time favorite actors are portraying a man of God (Gerry Butler is portraying preacher Sam Childers in Machine Gun Preacher).

Updated 4/19 – Here’s the first stills from the upcoming film. Bale certainly cleans up VERY well 😀

Fresh off all the buzz surrounding his performance as Dick Ecklund in The Fighter, he’s also reprising his role as Batman in The Dark Knight Rises. He’s the kind of guy you would admire for his body of work in every sense of the word, as you can see in the infographic courtesy of SlashFilm.

Apparently the multi-BAFTA award winner Yimou was impressed with Bale’s dedication and versatility. “I gave him the names of some books that he should read about the Nanjing massacre,” the director said. “When I went to see him, I saw those books were lying open on his table, and I was very touched.” Zhang also hoped that by casting a famous Hollywood actor like Bale will enhance the foreign appeal of the film. “We’ve made many, many Nanjing movies … but they are mostly like we’re talking to ourselves. A lot of young people in Western countries might not know about it.”

So far there’s no other casting news has been announced yet, I wonder if the popular Chinese actress Gong Li will get involved in this as she frequently collaborated with Yimou and the two also dated a back in the late 80s and early 90s. This’ll be Yimou’s biggest feature film with a budget of $90 million. It’s scheduled for release in 2012, which I’m guessing probably after Batman 3 opens on July 20th.

What do you think, folks? Would you watch this one?