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Enter the dragon: Scheming Gong Li joins lead actress catfight

November 1, 2006 |  4:18 pm


Sony Pictures Classics is so impressed with the final cut of "Curse of the Golden Flower" that the studio has officially decided to launch an Oscar best-actress campaign for Gong Li and to promote Zhang Yimou for best director.

"Golden Flower" reunites Zhang Yimou with the actress he cast in his first outing as a director, "Red Sorghum," in 1989 when she was still a student at the Central Drama Academy in Beijing. They teamed up again for a half-dozen films such as "Raise the Red Lantern," but haven't collaborated in recent years while she took on further breakout roles in "2046" and "Memoirs of a Geisha" and he achieved major b.o. success in the west with "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers."

"They're now working together at their peak of their talents," says studio co-president Michael Barker. "They've created a film of great dramatic tension and visual splendor. We're really excited."

Gong Li portrays a righteous queen caught in a deceitful clash of power between her husband (Chow Yun Fat) and their three sons. Not only is it filled with the same epic pageantry and martial arts dazzle as "Hero" and "Daggers," but the personal drama is so intense, says Barker, "It's Shakespearean in its breadth."

The clash for the lead-actress gold just got all the more intense with Gong Li's late entry into a crowded match-up already loaded with formidable divas — Judi Dench ("Notes on a Scandal"), Helen Mirren ("The Queen"), Meryl Streep ("The Devil Wears Prada"), Annette Bening ("Running with Scissors"), Penelope Cruz ("Volver"), Kate Winslet ("Little Children") and Cate Blanchett ("The Good German").

CLICK HERE to see the trailer for "Golden Flower."

In other Oscar news, Barker says SPC plans to give German foreign film entry "Lives of Others" a qualifying run in U.S. theaters during the last week of December so that it's eligible in other Oscar categories as well.

Photo: Director Zhang Yimou has once again tapped "the chemistry that made Gong Li an international star," says Sony Pictures Classics co-president Michael Barker.
(Sony Pictures Classics)

The comments to this entry are closed.


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Happy Aniversary Gong Li. I love you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
You beautiful my love, i love you 1000xi love you.

Happy new year to you, too! Happy 2007 to you!!!!!!!!!

My name Luciano Mello (Brazil)

Happy aniversary Gong Li. I love you, i love you!!!!!
You beautiful D+ i love you...

Happy new year to you, too! Happy 2007 too!!!!!!

My name Luciano Mello (Brazil)

noticed the reviews. It'll divide's nothing like his last two martial arts films, but very much like his earlier movies.

Sony isn't advertising it's an art film, not an escapist entertainment. The trailer may excite people by showing pieces of the film's spectacle, but that's hardly what the movie is about.

It's interesting that Hero and House of Flying Daggers received mixed reviews in China for being "too western", while Curse of the Golden Flower is being praised as a return to form for Zhang Yimou.

Gong Li is one of the most talented actress in the world right now. She's probably the most famous international artist of our time. All her movies are wonderful, exciting, and none the least controversial. Last year and this year, Gong Li demonstrates her talent in two very different roles, playing a deceitful geisha in "Memoirs of a Geisha" and a mob's wife in "Miami Vice." She also lent her talent to non-Hollywood features such as "2046" and "Eros." Her decisions to play these parts are smart because it sets her a part from other actresses that like to play it safe. Gong Li deserves an Oscar nomination no doubt for her new film with Zhang Zimou. She was snubbed in 2005 for her performance as Hatsumomo, one of her best work outside of Chinese cinema. I can't wait to see more of Gong Li doing Hollywood projects and Chinese mainstream as well. After all, she is one of the most influential Chinese actresses of all time.

Academy. Give her one.NOW!

Gong Li is a huge talent and it's time for the Academy to recognize her great career. Raise the Red Lantern, Farewell my Concubine, ...her list of great performances goes on and on.

Kathy, They have snubbed her MORE than once.

Oscar cheated and snubbed Gong Li once. Don't do that again!

Gong Li should have been nominated for her outstanding performance in "Memoirs of a Geisha".

I would love to see Oscar doing some justice at last.

I totally agree with you!

Gong Li is really a megastar of great renown all over the world.She deserves at least a nomination due to her splendid performance!

I love her so!Run,Gong Li,Run!

Gong Li is "evreything"

Thanks Tom O'neil for the article on Gong Li. I really enjoyed reading it!
Can't wait to see the film 'Curse of the Golden Flower'. What a dream cast come true!! One of the finest director 'Zhang Yimou' combined with the incredibly talented & charismatic 'Gong Li' & 'Chow Yun Fat' working together, you just can't go wrong. Personally i think Oscar owes Gong Li for best supporting actress in 'Memoirs of a Geisha'. I certainly hope Gong Li & Zhang Yimou achieves an Oscar for their brilliance & exquisite work. They truly deserve it!!

Gong Li has always been international star material. She'd been offered a lot of Hollywood roles but she kept waiting for a good role and finally got one when she played Hatsumomo in Memoirs of a Geisha. She knew what she was doing and did great.

agree !!
I love you ,GongLi ,best whises to you ,win the actress.

I agree Colum. GL IMO is the most beautiful and talented actress in the world. period.

Go Gong Li!!!

Gong Li has always been international star material. She'd been offered a lot of Hollywood roles but she kept waiting for a good role and finally got one when she played Hatsumomo in Memoirs of a Geisha. She knew what she was doing and did great.

Funny that people think it took Gong Li so many years to get into Hollywood and only a few years for Ziyi Zhang. But the fact is: Gong Li would probably have been the first chinese actress to break into Hollywood if she was given a role she liked.



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