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Tag Archive: Yimou Zhang


 

Fans of director Yimou Zhang′s international mega-production The Great Wall didn’t need to go all the way to the Great Wall of China to have a chance at obtaining a piece of the 2016 film this past week.  Auction house Prop Store′s Los Angeles location joined with Legendary Entertainment to offer 477 lots of both key and background costumes, armor, prop weaponry, and set pieces from the first partnering of the United States and China on a giant blockbuster film.  The Great Wall is a Chinese dynasty fantasy set at the famous landmark, merging giant battles and action with the mega-sized monster genre, pairing China’s biggest stars with an international cast, backed by a crew from 100 countries.  Although the movie received mixed reviews from critics, what can’t be denied are the visual concepts and craftsmanship of New Zealand’s Weta Workshop and Mexican costume designer Mayes Rubeo, who designed imagery for the film never seen before.  Check out our review of the movie here at borg back in 2016, along with Abbie Bernstein’s ground-breaking book The Great Wall: The Art of the Film (reviewed here).

Weta Workshop kitted out the armies of The Great Wall with an arsenal of color.  The workshop design studio rendered more than a thousand concepts for the film, with 6,000 final weapons used by the key cast and 600 extras, including shields, spears, axes, daggers, crossbows, swords, and arrows featured in the auction.  Mayes Rubeo, known for her designs in Thor: Ragnarok and Avatar (and she created costumes for both the original Total Recall and the halted Mouse Guard live-action movie), utilized historic Chinese fabrics, textiles, techniques, hand embroidery and applique, and leathers in each costume with about 18 components per person, all featuring an animal and unique color combination: the blue crane corps, red eagle corps, gold tiger corps, black bear corps, and purple deer corps.

 

It should be no surprise that the top costume sales went for the two stunning, blue, armored costumes worn by the film’s Chinese star Tian Jing as Commander Lin Mae.  Featuring sheathed swords, helmets, leg daggers, feathered suit and hard armor, they sold for slightly more than $9,000 and $17,500 each.  Other hero costumes that sold included Matt Damon as William costume variants ($1,687, $2,625, $4,375 and $5,125), The Mandalorian actor Pedro Pascal′s character Tovar’s costumes ($937, $1,625, and $1,687), Willem Dafoe′s character Ballard ($344, $531, $875, and $1,437), General Shao’s (Zhang Hanyu) black armor ($2,187 and $4,500), Commander Wu’s (Eddie Peng) gold armor ($2,750 and $4,250), Commander Chen’s (Kenny Lin) red armor ($2,250 and $3,875), Commander Deng’s (Xuan Huang) purple armor ($1,625 and $3,875), and Strategist Wang’s (Andy Lau) costumes ($1,000 and $2,500).  A variety of historically-inspired, ornate hero (lead actor-used) swords ranged from $400 to $3,875 for one of the swords unique to Tian Jing.

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, reviewed here at borg.com, is a summer marvel, director Luc Besson’s epic sci-fi, space fantasy we loved, but was overlooked by many because of its clunky title, its lackluster publicity efforts, and its spectacular visuals that overshadowed its simple love story in the eyes of many mainstream movie critics.  It deserves another look, and for those who missed the story for the special effects, its novelization by author Christie Golden is a great way to see what you may have missed.  Another movie that suffered similarly, but only for U.S. audiences, was director Yimou Zhang’s epic film The Great Wall, reviewed here at borg.com, a late winter release full of inspired, colorful, medieval martial arts battles, but a thinner narrative that was also arguably overshadowed by its own dazzling imagery.  Mark Morris’s novelization of the film fleshes out and clarifies the roles of all the characters that filled the enormous cinematic event.

Putting the movies aside, if you’re a fan of novelizations–if you just enjoy experiencing a film word by word, zipping along with a fun action adventure–each of these books should accompany you in your luggage on your next vacation.  I’ve read and enjoyed this segment of genre fiction for years, and remember spending cross-country trips in the backseat of the family car reading the novelizations of Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, The Empire Strikes Back, and the 1989 movie Batman.  Years ago before videos, DVDs, Blu-rays, and digital HD, when the prospect of seeing the movie again in the near future was slight, fans really could only turn to novelizations and the rare films that received the comic book adaptation.  You might think the market may not be as great for novelizations today, yet movies continue to get re-written into novels.  And many are still reading–and loving–them.

Both Valerian and The Great Wall have similar narrative structures.  Both involve two protagonists that embark on a hero’s journey against a giant landscape of action and activity.  In Valerian, two spacepilot operatives are charged with the mission to re-capture a stolen artifact, and along the way they are pulled into a greater conflict involving the fate of millions.  In The Great Wall, two medieval warriors are on a quest to seek the rumored new creation called gunpowder, when their search is cut short by a rare, mythic encounter that could spell certain doom for the cities bordering China’s Great Wall.  The relationship of each of these pairs of characters is very modern, full of dialogue with modern quips, verbal sparring and ribbing each other despite their friendships, and the characters themselves are not necessarily relatable or even likeable at first glance.  If you don’t immediately buy the characters’ relationships, then the global conflict they take us through, despite the films’ epic visuals, may simply not work for you.  But if you give them a chance and jump aboard with the characters, then both stories can be great fun. The novelizations are a great way to give them that chance.

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