It will be written by Chen Yu, the screenwriter who also partnered with Zhang on his upcoming crime thriller “Under the Light,” and produced by Li Feng Culture, a small firm whose only credit to date appears to be as a minor co-producer on the patriotic National Day film “My People, My Homeland,” which hit cinemas Oct. 1 and has made $289 million so far. According to an official government filing that emerged online Wednesday, the project has been approved by Chinese authorities and can move forward with shoots.
The film will tell the story of a 22-year-old sniper named Zhang Dagong as he fights against U.S. troops during the Korean War. He is based on the real-life personage Zhang Taofang, a Jiangsu native born in 1931 who joined the Chinese army in 1951 and hit the battlefield in Korea the next year, where he reportedly set a record by killing or wounding 214 American soldiers with 435 shots in 32 days. He passed away in 2007.
The film is intended as a patriotic title to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Korean War. “With historical facts, the film is going to make audiences once again realize that although the U.S. is strong, it is not unbeatable,” the film critic and producer Tan Fei told China’s Global Times on Friday.
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Director Zhang, 70, currently has three films that are already completed and awaiting release: his previously censored Cultural Revolution-era-set drama “One Second,” which has finally been approved for a theatrical run, but not yet set a release date, and action thrillers “Impasse” and “Under the Light.”
The Fifth Generation helmer has been thrice nominated for the Academy Award for best international feature film, with 1990’s “Ju Dou,” 1991’s “Raise the Red Lantern” and 2003’s “Hero.” His latest movie, the 2018 atmospheric wuxia period drama “Shadow,” made $90.5 million in China, but just $521,000 in North America.