Will star in Chinese government-backed biopic

BEIJING — Chow Yun-fat will trade his trademark trenchcoat and pistols for scholarly robes and scrolls as ancient Chinese philosopher Confucius in a new biopic backed by the Chinese government.

Thesp, who starred in “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” and dozens of hard-boiled Hong Kong gangster movies, will take on a different persona in the HK$22 million ($2.8 million) pic as the thinker who lived more than 2,500 years ago. Virtually banned during the Cultural Revolution, Confucius is undergoing a major revival in newly consumerist China for his teachings on morals and character.

Chow’s casting was confirmed by Wang Kefei, spokesman for Dadi Film Group in Beijing, one of the backers of the biopic, along with the state film company, China Film Group. Hu Mei is set to direct, with shooting starting later this month at Hebei province and at Hengdian studios.

Movie will screen later this year to mark the 60th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China and Confucius’ 2,560th birthday.

The recent embrace of the philosopher is a major departure for China. After Chairman Mao Zedong condemned Confucius, Red Guards destroyed Confucius’ family home, family cemetery and a temple in his honor in his hometown of Qufu, wrecking some 6,600 priceless relics.

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