Would it surprise you to learn that the original title for Christian Bale’s upcoming Chinese epic, The Flowers of War, was actually Blood Mist? It shouldn’t after watching the trailer below which is absolutely filled with the stuff. Also, I’m just making up the bit about it being the original title but there really is a lot of it in this trailer.

Bale plays an American named John Haufman who finds himself trapped in the Chinese city of Nanking during the Japanese invasion in 1937. He dons a dead priest’s robe as a way to stay alive and soon finds himself responsible for the safety of a group of schoolgirls and a gaggle of prostitutes when the Japanese soldiers come looking to party. It’s a fact-based story that touches on the despicable acts committed by the invading army and covered with raw power in Iris Chang’s excellent The Rape of Nanking.

The film is reportedly China’s most expensive production yet, and it’s easy to see where all the money went after watching the footage below. Director Zhang Yimou (Hero, House of Flying Daggers, Curse of the Golden Flower) has turned his visually adept eye to a slightly more modern time period, and the results look impressively visceral and stylish.

Check out the trailer below.

There’s nothing in this trailer that isn’t awesome.

Sure it’s paced pretty terribly, but the action and imagery on display confirm that Zhang has delivered another beautiful and exciting film. The story echoes the atrocities covered more dramatically in films like City of Life and Death, but the focus on an American attempting to save lives should make it more palatable as entertainment. Plus Paul Schneider!

Zhang’s recent films have successfully combined historical periods, tragic romance, and blistering action, and this one looks to be no different… aside from the beautifully shot fight scenes being comprised of guns and tanks instead of swords and wire-fu of course.

The Flowers of War opens in China this December and will hopefully see a US release sometime next year.

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