12-31-2007 11:11

The "Assembly”", the latest production of Chinese director Feng Xiaogang, has just hit cinemas. After a week, the reviews are in. Audiences love it. More accolades for the director. What's more remarkable is that it's the performance of Zhang Hanyu, a little known actor, in the lead role that makes the film great.

Zhang Hanyu won the lead in the film. Feng Xiaogang believed him diligent, persistent and bold. The two have known each other for years. It was a risky choice for a big budget film But Feng trusted Zhang. And for Zhang, the role of Gu Zidi, is the one he'd been waiting for.

Zhang Hanyu graduated from the Central Academy of Drama, he majored in performance. His first job was dubbing films. His sensational speaking voice immediately made him one of the top voice artists. Still he wanted to perform -- in front of the camera.

Zhang Hanyu and Feng Xiaogang met eight years ago. It was 1999. Zhang Hanyu had a part in a TV series called “The Place Where Dream Starts”. Feng saw his talent and asked Zhang to meet with him at his studio, Feng promised him a role in his next film.

That meeting opened the door on a whole new world for Zhang Hanyu -- the world of New Year films. Zhang played minor roles in “Sorry Baby”, “Big Shot’s Funeral”, and “Cell Phone.” None of the characters he played even had a name. Zhang wasn't upset playing obscure roles. He saw his main role as satisfying the director --- and becoming a better actor.

Next came “A World Without Thieves”. Audiences began to recognize Zhang Hanyu after he played a railway policeman. One man who saw the film actually was a railway policeman. He asked Zhang Hanyu if HE was policeman when not acting on screen. Zhang was proud of that. It made him feel like he played his part well.

By then Feng’s films were becoming an established New Year tradition. Zhang Hanyu, like the late Fu Biao grew from the obscurity of 'no-name' roles to become an accomplished actor. Fu Biao became famous playing "every man" roles. Zhang however emerged into a manly, very cool, die hard hero.

During the shooting of the “Assembly”, Zhang was hurt twice. He fell of a horse and was caught in a dynamite blast. He casually remarked it was worth dying to shoot a war epic like the “Assembly”. In a market over stocked with delicate boy actors, audiences are eager to see some tough guys. Zhang definitely is one of those.

The “Assembly” is causing a stir all over China. It's the big break for Zhang. It was also a tough challenge. He takes it in stride. Zhang calls the film China’s real war epic --- says all Chinese people should be moved by it. As for his future? He says he will be honoured if from now on people call him Lao Gu.


Editor:Du Xiaodan