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After taking in three Academy Awards with Paul Greengrass’ 2007 spy thriller The Bourne Ultimatum (for editing, sound mixing and sound editing), Universal ‘s series went back to no nominations with Tony Gilroy’s The Bourne Legacy in 2012. While we wait to see who or what will get attached to the fifth Bourne film, Universal is keeping award-friendly directors around for all their adaptations of Robert Ludlum novels. The studio is bringing back their take on the 1982 bestseller The Parsifal Mosaic, with revered Chinese director Zhang Yimou gracefully fistfighting his way to the director’s chair. A Chinese director handling a Hollywood film is as rare as a moon that is actually colored blue without a scientific explanation. My interest is certainly piqued.
The interest wasn’t there as much back in 2009 when Ron Howard was attached to direct, before that fell apart and he made the modern spy masterpiece The Dilemma. Howard, who shook up his traditional approach with the stellar Rush, is still producing with Brian Grazer through their Imagine Entertainment, along with Captivate Entertainment. This is a much more novel idea, as Zhang’s vision stands with few American contemporaries.
So how will he handle this source material? It tells the story of Michael Havelock, a black ops intelligence agent who thinks that his lover and partner has been executed for being a double agent. He leaves his spy life behind but finds it all coming back to him in full force once he finds out his love is alive and well. As you can imagine, things go wrong both for Havelock and the operation he was working for, as everyone thinks everyone else is guilty and deserves to die.
While the original screenplay was handled by The Wolfman and Road to Perdition screenwriter David Self, Deadline now reports Zhang will supervise a revised version. His early thriller-friendly career produced like Ju Dou, the first Chinese film nominated for an Oscar, and some of his more cinematic later films also found fame in the U.S., including 2004’s House of Flying Daggers and 2006’s The Flowers of War, in which Christian Bale is a savior to Chinese citizens. Zhang’s latest film, Return, is currently being shopped around Beijing during the European Film Market.
Zhang made headlines in a different way recently for fathering three children in China’s fairly strict limited child rule. But if we’re talking recent events, we’re talking Olympics, and the director was responsible for the majesty of the opening and closing ceremonies for Beijing in 2008. Let’s go back to that, shall we?