Donnie Yen isn’t the only actor appearing in two films (The Lost Bladesman and Wu Xia) this year. Jiang Wen plays Cao Cao to Yen’s Guan in The Lost Bladesman and causes Chow Yun-Fat no end of consternation in Let The Bullets Fly as Zhang Muzhi and possibly as the director of the same.
A graduate of the prestigious Central Academy of Drama, Jiang is probably best known in the west for his role in Zhang Yimou’s Red Sorghum, in which he starred opposite Gong Li and in which there were neither bladesmen nor bullets flying. More recently he directed the first segment in New York, I Love You, which contained catastrophically little in the way of bullets, bladesmen or comedically charming Chow Yun-Fat.
Jiang has won Golden Horse Awards for Best Director and Best Screenplay as well as Best Actor at the Venice Film Festival for his first film, In The Heat of the Sun. He has won a Hong Kong Film Award for Best Supporting Actor for The Soong Sisters. And his second film, Devils On The Doorstep, set during the Japanese occupation of China, won the 2000 Grand Prix at Cannes and a Kinema Junpo Award for Best Foreign Film Director, but was banned in China.
Whether as actor or director, Jiang Wen’s work is fierce and focused. CNNGo quotes Jiang in an interview:
Jiang: When I meet a good director, I want to be an actor. When I meet a good actor, I want to be a director. When I meet an actor like Jiang Wen, I probably would want to be the director.
(This post originally appeared in a slightly different form at the 2012 ActionFest Film Festival Blog on Apr. 13, 2012)