HONG KONG: Chinese director Chen Kaige is seeking artistic redemption with a return to Peking Opera — the subject matter that has won him the greatest international acclaim — after a poor reception to his fantasy epic three years ago.
Chen's profile of Peking Opera star Mei Lanfang, "Forever Enthralled," which hits Chinese theaters Friday, is his first movie since his much-criticized $35 million production "The Promise" in 2005.
"Forever Enthralled" is the story of late Peking Opera star Mei, who is known for developing the performance of female characters and promoting Peking Opera abroad by touring Japan, the U.S. and the Soviet Union.
In tackling the life of Mei, Chen is returning to familiar subject matter that brought him his greatest international recognition. His 1993 film "Farewell My Concubine," about the homosexual relationship between two Peking Opera stars, won the Golden Palm award at the Cannes Film Festival and earned two Oscar nominations.
He's helped by a stellar cast led by Zhang Ziyi from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" and "Memoirs of a Geisha." Hong Kong singer-turned-actor Leon Lai, a best actor winner at the Chinese equivalent of the Oscars, Taiwan's Golden Horse Awards, plays Mei.