With recognized fame from his seven hit New Year comedies in the past, director Feng Xiaogang is whetting people's appetites once again with his latest work, The Banquet that marks a dramatic breakaway from his modern comedy style to tell a tragic story of ancient times.
Despite growing interest in the film following its completion on January 8 in Beijing, the director remains patiently low-key giving little away as to the content. "All that I can tell you is that the director is busy with the post production phase in Canada right now. Any thing else, like the publicity activities and realease date have not yet been decided", said Wang Yang of the production compagny, Huayi Brothers.
What is known is that the film is set in the time of the Five Dynasties that ruled the Yellow River Basin and neighboring regions from 907 to 960. Wars were frequent among the nations and scrambles for power occurred between the emperor and his ministers and even the royal families were rife.
In such a setting, tragic conflicts were inevitable as the emperor dies in his boots while his brother, played by Ge You, takes the throne and captures the beautiful young empress (Zhang Ziyi) and her son (Daniel Wu). Consequently, the princess becomes determined to avenge her father.
The plot is fairly simple and often seen in similar court-themed productions. With his prevailing influence, Feng also managed a few famous names in front of his camera, and, of course, his long time partner Ge You, who helped establish Feng's comedy style by starring in all of the director's New Year comedies. In addition, Chinese American composed Tan don't, who won an oscar for the music in Ang Lee' Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon also jumped on board to create the music for the movie.
For audiences, finding out what Feng will deliver is the mojor concern as they wonder to what extent he can repeat his previous success with comedies. With a budget of US$ 20 million, the rebellious director is also looking to present a piece of work that will prove his directorial worth.
"Since society has a prejudice against commercial movies, I wanted to shoot one that belongs to the so-called high-grade film school", said Feng.
The Banquet is likely to be released in September on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and the Southeast Asian regions simultaneously.
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