If you weren’t super impressed by the return of “Jason Bourne”, well, the good news is that Matt Damon will be back in action again. This time, he’ll be visiting one of the world’s most iconic landmarks in China.
Not only is “The Great Wall” China’s most expensive film to date (with a budget of $135 million), the film is also Zhang Yimou (張藝謀)’s first English-language film, or as the legendary Chinese director prefers to term it – “a Hollywood film with a Zhang Yimou touch”.
Set during the Song dynasty, some 1000 years ago, “The Great Wall” centres on a trio of mercenaries who have travelled from the West with the intention to steal gunpowder and a rumoured legendary weapon in hopes of conquering China. Upon their arrival at the Great Wall however, William Garin (played by Matt Damon) and his companions find themselves caught in a war between China’s elite military warriors called The Nameless Order and monsters.
Besides Damon, the all-star ensemble cast include Willem Dafoe, Pedro Pascal, Mackenzie Foy, as well as Chinese superstars Andy Lau (劉德華), former EXO member Luhan (鹿晗), Eddie Peng (彭于晏), and Jing Tian (景甜).
Here are some other fun facts about the movie that you might not have known about:
1. The project was delayed because changes needed to be made
Did you know “The Great Wall” took 7 years to really take off? Even after Zhang Yimou came on board, the revered filmmaker insisted that some changes needed to take place in order to make this movie better than previous Chinese-Hollywood films.
“I made them agree to a big budget and pushed the filming start date 1 year later as I needed to make amendments to the Chinese fiction. Almost every day I would think about the script and throw in little details, bonding both the Eastern and Western cultures. It was a very difficult thing to do but you must make a product that is accurate, otherwise it would not be good,” revealed Zhang.
“The American team (producers and scriptwriters) was worried about showing me the story at first because they thought it would be too much of a ‘Hollywood monster-type’ story for me. But then I saw that there were Chinese elements in the plot line and that the story was meaningful and original,” the director added.
2. Who are these supposedly scary monsters?
From the trailer, we see that these monsters look like scaly green giant lizards. These mythical creatures are identified as “taotie”. Every 60 years, the taotie will attack the Chinese people for 8 consecutive days. According to Chinese mythology, the taotie species are greedy beasts who devour anything and everything that crosses their path.
In “The Great Wall”, these monsters are seen attacking the humans who have become greedy for money and power. As such, the taotie are often used as a symbol of greed and gluttony.
3. The defenders are known as The Nameless Order
The Nameless Order are warriors sworn to uphold the corps’ 4 principles: Discipline, Loyalty, Secrecy, and Sacrifice. They’ve been trained for years to take on the monsters and will protect the country and its Emperor at any cost. William Garin and Pero Tovar were captured by the warriors during their trip. They are later joined by Sir Ballard, a European who, like them, was taken prisoner when he wanted to steal black powder.
4. Everyone has been accusing the movie of Hollywood whitewashing but the Chinese themselves
Prior to the release of “The Great Wall” in China, Matt Damon had to fend off complaints (mostly from Western viewers and critics), saying that the main role should have gone to an Asian person instead of a European. Ironically, the 46-year-old had a warmer response from the Chinese themselves.
“I really wish people would watch the film first before forming an opinion of it. Yes, there are foreigners in the movie who seem to save the day for China, but there is a lot more to the story and character than that. Besides, it is a very common plot line,” Matt Damon said, using James Cameron’s “Avatar” as an example of how a foreigner decides to help out a different species from a foreign land.
5. K-Pop star Luhan garnered top praises from Andy Lau and Matt Damon
Although Luhan (鹿晗) was criticised for his acting performance in “The Great Wall”, 2 of the biggest stars in the film have defended the former EXO member. “Yesterday, I asked a few media to speak up if they think that he’s not good enough, but nobody was willing to clarify (on what was written). Don’t worry, I’ve already scolded them on your (Luhan’s) behalf yesterday!” Lau told the singer during a recent press conference.
The Hong Kong actor wasn’t the only one who thought so. Matt Damon also had nothing but praise for the singer. “You know there were people who really surprised me like Luhan. Every time I looked at him in a scene, without saying a lot, he could convey so much and I was really impressed with him. That’s a really hard thing to do as an actor,” said Damon.
Watch the trailer here:
“The Great Wall” is currently playing in Malaysian cinemas.