While 20 minutes of Christian Bale in “The Flowers of War” were shown to potential buyers last month at the Toronto film fest, we’re now getting our first trailer for the epic film from Chinese director/award-magnet Zhang Yimou.
Although there hasn’t been talk of anyone launching a best actor campaign for Bale (The film doesn’t have a U.S. distributor yet), don’t automatically count the Oscar winner (“The Fighter”) out of the race.
“Flowers” also stars Sigeo Kobayashi and the always reliable Paul Schneider (“All the Real Girls,” “The Assassination of Jesse James”).
But the real star is the gorgeous look of the historical drama (shot by Zhang’s regular DP Zhao Xiaoding), based on a true story about a Western priest (Bale) struggling to help save a group of students and prostitutes during the brutal Japanese occupation of Nanking in 1937. There looks to be plenty of drama, action, sensuality and politics on hand. At roughly $90 million, “Flowers” (formerly known as “Heroes of Nanking”) is China’s most expensive film ever.
Although the dialogue is in Mandarin, Japanese and English, “Flowers” is China’s entry in this year’s foreign language Oscar race, and will likely do well there, as Zhang has had several films nominated in the category.
After a number of high-profile martial arts films (“Hero,” “House of Flying Daggers,” “Curse of the Golden Flower” and last year’s less well-received “A Woman, a Gun and a Noodle Shop”), the Academy could very well eat up Zhang’s return to the 20th Century historical drama that served him so well in “To Live” and “Raise the Red Lantern.” Having Bale in the lead won’t hurt either.
Watch the new international trailer here: