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?

25 thoughts on “Upcoming Flix Spotlight: 13 Flowers of Nanjing

  1. I would probably rent it, but i don’t think i would rush out to see it. I normally don’t go out of my way to see religious themed movies, but as long as they don’t emphasize that too much i would be fine with it.

    Ip man actually covered similar subject matter(the Japanese invasion of china). I highly recommend the movie for anyone who wants to see a film covering that

    And is Franklyn still on your list of movies to watch?

    1. I don’t see this as a ‘religious-themed’ film, more like a historical drama.

      Yeah, Franklyn is on my Netflix queue. It’s the one with Sam Riley & Eva Green, right? I’ve been wanting to check out Riley’s work, though I think CONTROL is a better movie of his.

      1. Yeah, although due to it being a ensemble film they don’t get that much more screen time than the other 2 main characters. I’m not saying that as a negative, i just wanted to say that in case you’re watching for them.

        Did you get my email?I sent it a few days ago. I wanted your advice on something

  2. Vince

    Not too much into historical melodrama but you can be assured that this will look grandiose. I smell best foreign film aspirations.

    1. Well I haven’t seen any of Yimou’s movies but w/ Bale in it, I think this film will at least get noticed more by Hollywood awards. The director’s won BAFTA before but not sure if he’s been nominated for Oscar.

  3. I wrote about NANJING film last year and I’m excited about it. I do love seeing such films – set in Asia with Western actors, even though it’s a bit egocentric portraying Western people as saviours all the time, as if all the Chinese nation didn’t fight as well. But I’m sure it will be dramatic, touching and visually beautiful.

    1. I think Bale is only one of the few Western actors in this as it should be mostly Asian. I don’t think it’s egocentric if that’s how the historical account goes, but I see what you mean Dezzy, it’s much more rare to see a movie about people of color being the hero saving Westerners. But given the director is Chinese, I’d think this is a subject matter close to his heart.

  4. I would definitely watch this.
    If this has the same beauty as the house of the flying dagger, it sure woth seeing in Cinema..PLUS Bale is in it.

    Thx for spotlighting this Ruth, I didn’t know about it before.
    Bale’s carreer seems to keep on rising, doesn’t it 🙂

    1. Question for you, Nov. Are you into Takeshi Kaneshiro like a whole lot of Asian girls? I actually just heard of him maybe a year ago when I put up the Red Cliff trailer but apparently he’s huge in Asia, I think people call him the Asian Johnny Depp. In any case, I’m looking forward to ‘Flying Dagger,’ it just looks beautiful from the trailer.

      Glad I brought this to light for you. I think Bale’s career’s always been pretty stable, it’s in the award front that he’s finally getting the recognition he’s long due. I hope he finally gets that Oscar this year!

      1. Haha no, I’m not into Kaneshiro. I like some of his movie and I like him as an actor too but I wouldn’t say that he is in my top list of Asian actors. I like Ken’Ichi Matsuyama more.

        I hope so too…which remind me I still haven’t watched The Fighter yet

        1. I’m totally into Takeshi Kaneshiro, he’s my favourite Asian actor and a huge eye candy too 🙂 And they don’t call him Asian Depp, but Asian Brad Pitt 🙂

            1. Sorry Dez, I have to agree with Ruth!
              Kaneshiro is more like Depp than Pitt…well at least he is not as arrogant looking as Pitt.
              I think what makes him VERY famous, apart from his acting, is his ability to speak 2 languages and play in 2 different countries.

              1. Well I don’t know about arrogant, I just never found Pitt all that interesting.

                I couldn’t resist looking him up on Google. Well according to his Wiki page, Kaneshiro speaks Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Taiwanese Hokkien and English. WOW! That’s SIX languages, amazing!

  5. This sort of reminds me of Empire of the Sun just because of the settings, WWII backdrop and Christian Bale. Zhang Yimou is a highly acclaimed director so I hope it’s good!

    1. Y’know that reminds me, I haven’t seen Empire of the Sun in its entirety, better get on that. Yeah, I can see this one being epic like that Spielberg’s film.

  6. Ted S.

    I saw House of Flying Dagger a few years ago, it was one of the first Blu-ray discs that came out when Blu-ray was introduced to consumers. I like the movie but unfortunately the disc didn’t look too good.

    I’m very interest to see how this film turns out, hopefully Bale won’t have to lose too much weight for his role in the film.

    1. Well you have such discriminating taste about BD quality, Ted 🙂 Glad you enjoy the film though. Yeah, I hope he doesn’t starve himself again… especially since he’s already so thin now from playing Ecklund.

  7. I am actually interested in this one myself. Part of the allure for me in Ip Man is that it looks at China while being under the control of WWII Japanese forces, and not too many films that make their way to mainstream audiences cover that side of the world during that time. Most look at European/American issues and struggles. I am glad that Bale will be a part!

    1. I really need to see IP Man then, since all of you vouched for it. Yeah, glad Zhang Yimou picked Bale and he’s definitely the right man for the job.

  8. Mike

    Christian seems to end up in some of the most intense movies being made. There’s NOTHING more horrific than what the Japanese did to the Chinese in that invasion. A film that addresses those events in any way is gonna be gut wrenching indeed.

    Bale has one speed for his acting roles: FULL THROTTLE …

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