ASIAN FILM - Article
16:00 - 26th December 2013, by NEO Staff

Zhang Ziyi

Born in Beijing in 1979, the beautiful and talented Zhang Ziyi is the most successful and internationally recognised Chinese actress of her generation. She has won numerous awards for her performances in such critically acclaimed films like The Road Home (1999), and was presented in 2008 with the Outstanding Contribution to Chinese Cinema at the 11th Shanghai International Film Festival. Spencer Lloyd Peet highlights some of her most memorable moments.

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000)
Zhang once said that during filming of this now classic wuxia epic, she was anxious and nervous because she always felt that director Ang Lee had taken a gamble in choosing her in the first place. She felt that Lee wouldn't be satisfied with her abilities, so she worked really hard to earn his trust. Her efforts paid off, and she held her own against veterans of action cinema Chow Yun Fat and Michelle Yeoh, and helped make Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon became one of the most successful and influential foreign films in history.

2046 (2004)
When Zhang agreed to play Bai Ling - a Singapore showgirl - in Wong Kar Wai's quality Hong Kong movie 2046, she didn't have a clear idea of the plot, because, according to the actress, there wasn't a script as such. Nevertheless, she put her faith in the celebrated director, and gave one of her most effective performances to date, opposite admired actor Tony Leung. Zhang, Leung and Wai would team up again for the 2013 martial arts drama The Grandmaster.

House of Flying Daggers (2004)
Previous to House of Flying Daggers, Zhang had worked twice before with director Zhang Yimou on The Road Home, and Hero (2004) starring Jet Lee. Yimou's tale of love and deceit, set during the decline of the Tang Dynasty, is a cinematic masterpiece and showcases Zhang's talent as an actress and a dancer. With a gripping story and spectacular visuals, Flying Daggers became one of the greatest moments of the actress' career.

Memoirs of a Geisha (2005)
Based on the bestselling novel by American author Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha has been criticised for its many inaccuracies concerning the life of a geisha, and for the miscasting of Zhang in the lead role of Sayuki. But whilst the film is by no means precise in its depiction of the geisha world, there's no denying that Zhang delivered a convicting and gusto performance - proving once again she is always Zhang-tastic!

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