Touted to be the most expensive and ambitious movie ever made in China, "The Great Wall" reportedly cost US$135 million to make, with a crew of roughly 1,300. It is produced by Legendary Pictures, Universal Pictures, Atlas Entertainment, China Films and Le Vision Pictures. Zhang Yimou, one of China’s Fifth Generation of filmmakers, who earned international acclaim for efforts like Raise the Red Lantern and the bigger budget The Flowers of War starring Christian Bale, is directing his first English-language fantasy epic. Matt Damon and Andy Lau lead the cast in order to attract a much wider global audience.
The Great Wall will be Andy Lau's first film role in a Hollywood production.
The Great Wall tells the story of an elite force making a valiant stand for humanity on the world’s most iconic structure. Matt Damon, a wandering European mercenary teams up with Pedro Pascal (Game of Thrones) and Andy Lau (in his Hollywood debut) to go up against monsters who are attempting to breach The Great Wall of China. Other supporting cast members include Willem Dafoe, Tian Jing, Luhan (former member of Korean Band EXO), and Zhang Hanyu.
Tian Jing plays one of the five heroes in Zhang Yimou's The Great Wall.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly about the film, director Zhang Yimou said, “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 monsters, all aspects of this film are backed by either scientific or historical research.”
The Great Wall tells the story of an elite force making a valiant stand for humanity on the world’s most iconic structure.
Zhang Zhao, chief executive of Le Vision Pictures, believes it's a gamble worth taking. Zhang told the South China Morning Post that The Great Wall is the perfect Chinese production for a mainstream global audience. They made the movie mostly in English because cinema-goers don't like reading subtitles. He enthuses that if you combine blockbuster-style visuals, a big cast of Hollywood and Chinese stars, and a story that is about a global landmark, you have a hit.
People just see the Great Wall, but they don't know the story behind it," Zhang Yimou explains. "As long as you have a good story, a story they can understand, about family, heroes, good against evil ... they will be interested, I believe."