On the eve of it’s forthcoming premieres at TIFF and in Venice, Zhang Yimou’s wuxia action epic, Shadow has officially landed at Well Go USA. Andreas Wiseman exclusively confirmed the news at Deadline on Wednesday with territories to include North America, UK, and Australia/New Zealand for its 2019 release. Here’s the lowdown from the Toronto programme:
Master filmmaker Zhang Yimou brings a completely original cinematic style to an epic battle story, contrasting visuals that draw on China’s centuries-old tradition of ink-wash painting against next-level fighting sequences to dazzling effect.
Zhang Yimou has long been acclaimed as one of cinema’s great masters. His Raise the Red Lantern and Ju Dou brought the world’s attention to the majesty of Chinese filmmaking. He launched the careers of two of China’s major stars, Gong Li and Zhang Ziyi. From the big screen to the Beijing Olympics opening ceremony, Zhang’s artistry is well known. But he can still surprise us. Shadowbrings a completely original style to an epic story.
Pei is ruled by a wild, dangerous king (Zheng Kai). The king’s military commander (Deng Chao) has fought bravely on the battlefield, but needs unique strategies to survive treachery in the king’s court. He has cultivated a “shadow” (also played by Deng), a look-alike who can fool the king, as well as Pei’s enemies, when deception proves necessary. Seeking final victory over a rival kingdom for control of the walled city of Jing, the king and the commander plot a secret attack. In training with his wife (Sun Li), the commander devises unconventional, lethal ways to use Pei’s signature weapons and shields. The stage is set for an unprecedented battle.
Zhang is famous for his daring use of vibrant colour. Here, he turns sharply to a new palette, drawing on China’s centuries-old tradition of ink-wash painting to craft costumes and production design in rich shades of black, white, and slate grey. His actors’ faces stand in dramatic, colourful contrast. When the full, glorious action of Shadow’s climactic battle is unleashed, the effect is breathtaking. The scale and drama reminds one of Akira Kurosawa’s samurai epics, but the dazzling visuals are entirely Zhang.
Shadow stands as one of the most anticipated to arise from the line-up of sell-out titles out of Toronto for the director following The Great Wall. The film hails from Perfect Village Entertainment, Le Vision Pictures and Shanghai Tencent Pictures with a script by Zhang and co-scribe Li Wei, and is produced by Ellen Eliasoph, Zhang Zhao, Pang Liwei, Liu Jun, and Wang Xiaozhu.
“We’re delighted to be working with Well Go on the release of Shadow in the English-speaking territories” said Ellen Eliasoph, President and CEO of Perfect Village Entertainment Group. “Well Go’s experience with contemporary Asian films runs deep, and their warm embrace of Shadow gives us confidence that director Zhang’s stunning new work will find its widest possible audience.”
“Several of us here at Well Go can draw a straight line from the first time seeing Zhang Yimou’s films to our roles in the industry today,” added Dylan Marchetti, SVP of Acquisitions and Theatrical Releasing at Well Go. “It’s impossible to explain how excited and honored we are to have the privilege of working with him, especially on a film as stunning and innovative as Shadow, and how much we look forward to giving it one of the largest releases we’ve done to date.”
Shadow will release in China on September 30.