How China is changing
Hollywood films are increasingly showing the
influences of Chinese cinema, says director Zhang Yimou.
Hero is one of the most
successful foreign films in the US to
Thanks to his two international hits,
Hero and House Of Flying Daggers, Zhang is one of
China's most high-profile directors.
The particular style of martial art in
these pictures, termed wushu, has cropped up in a number
of US movies - most notably in Quentin Tarantino's Kill
Bill films, he says.
"Because of the influence of Chinese
martial arts films, Hollywood movies are changing,"
Zhang told the BBC's The Culture Show.
"The actions in the films are more
beautiful, more rhythmic, and use some enhanced special
effects. I think it's a great thing."
Martial arts epic Hero tells the story
of Emperor Qin Shihuang's campaign to unify China more
than 2,000 years ago.
The film went to the top of the US box office chart and has so
far taken more than $50m (£26m) - a relatively large
amount for a foreign film in the US.
Zhang Yimou hopes his
films spread knowledge of China
House Of Flying Daggers has done less
well, managing around $10m (£5m).
Zhang says he had already noticed
aspects of Asian films in Western cinema, particularly
since the success of Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon in
"To Western audiences, Crouching Tiger
Hidden Dragon, for example, is seen as something very
refreshing - to see man-powered flight.
"But now there are more and more of
these kinds of films, American movies have also begun to
adopt these kinds of scenes with people flying.
"So after watching lots of these
films, people will get used to seeing this exaggerated
artistic style, and it won't be so strange any more."
Zhang says he believes appreciation
for a film can be "universal", pointing out that people
who had "no idea" about Emperor Qin had enjoyed Hero.
"What attracts them, I believe, is the
movie's form, the use of colour, its music," he says.
"They are attracted by the mood of the movie."
Zhang says film-goers can also gain
"cultural and historical information" from his work.
House Of Flying Daggers
received widespread acclaim
"Western audiences can gain an
impression of China from my films. This is an excellent
channel for promoting China's culture," he says.
But he adds: "Many things, feelings
especially, are common to all human beings.
"As long as the film appeals to
universal human feelings, all audiences will enjoy it."
Before Hero and House Of Flying
Daggers, Zhang did not have the budget to make
large-scale, epic pictures.
His previous films included the
low-budget, though critically-acclaimed, Red Sorghum and
Raise the Red Lantern.
However, he says Hero's success does
not mean he will now become solely interested in major
"When I look back at the times I shot
artistic movies, I found I learnt quite a lot from them.
"So in the future, I hope to do both -
make more personal films which I prefer; and in certain
circumstances, I will shoot some other commercial movies
like these two."