IndiePix, Celebrating Independent Film

Zhang Ziyi

Zhang Ziyi was born the 9th of February 1979, in Beijing, China. Her father worked as an economist and her mother was a kindergarden teacher. After some friends were expressed concerned she that was too frail, her parents encouraged her to take up dance and gymnastics to build up her strength.

Even though a career in dance seemed promising for Ziyi, she became frustrated with the art by the time she was 15, and opted to persue acting instead.

She therefore enrolled in the Central Academy of Drama in Beijing, where she received her dramatic training. It was at this time that she made her first movie, Touching Starlight. She also made two commercials, for China Mobile and Beijing Liquor, and appeared in a music video by Xie Xaodong. Soon after, Ziyi got her big break. She auditioned for a shampoo commercial, directed by Zhang Yimou (one of China's most renowned directors). The director of many successful films, he used the commercial as a way to audition actresses for his upcoming film.

For her first major film, The Road Home, director Zhang selected Ziyi from thousands of applicants to play Zhao Di, a young girl who falls in love with the new teacher who has come to her town in rural China. The Road Home won the Jury Grand Prix Silver Bear at the 2000 Berlin Film Festival. Ziyi won the prestigious Hundred Flowers award for her performance.

Ziyi was cast in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon after being recommended to director Ang Lee by Zhang Yimou. Lee had originally planned to cast Hong Kong starlet Shu Qi for the role, but after she decided the role would require too much training, she was replaced with Ziyi, who was used to intensive training schedules from her school years as a dancer.

In the summer 2001, Ziyi enhanced her international profile by playing a villain in Jackie Chan's smash hit Rush Hour 2. This Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker cop comedy is actually the highest grossing film Ziyi has appeared in.

She was next seen in a Korean film entitled Musa, in which she portrayed a Ming princess taken hostage by Mongolian raiders. Korea's response to Gladiator, this was the biggest and most expensive film project in Korean history. Gritty and realistic violence dominates the style of Musa. After this she returned to work with Zhang Yimou to make Hero, another martial arts masterpiece.

Her first mature dramatic role was in Purple Butterfly. In 1930s Shanghai, a vulnerable young woman named Xin Xia (Cynthia) joins the resistance and is tasked with seducing her former Japanese lover, who now works for Japanese intelligence. The slow, dark, intense film was rejected by many critics because of its visual style and its dense, subtle plotting, which when understood creates a disturbingly compelling historical atmosphere. The acting was widely praised as the movie's greatest strength, Ziyi in particular being singled out, as in this New York Times review: "Ms. Zhang Ziyi, having proved herself as a glorious action heroine, most recently in Zhang Yimou's "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers," now steps gracefully into a new genre, evoking the hard, enigmatic elegance of a 1940's screen heroine."

She next worked on 2046. A blend of classic romance and science fiction from Hong Kong director Wong Kar-Wai. In it, a writer with painful memories of love tries to escape from them both in life and in writing. A series of love stories alternating between this world and his fictional world of 2046 explore the depths of human passion and heartbreak. Zhang Ziyi plays Bai Ling, a woman who moves in next door and soon becomes his lover.

After working with the famous Wong Kar-Wai, Ziyi choose to work with a promising young director, Huo Yong, in Jasmine Women. A story of love and loss in three generations of a single family in Shanghai. Zhang Ziyi plays mother, daughter, and granddaughter as the film moves from the 1930's to the 1950's to the 1970's. Ziyi was awarded China's most presitigious Best Actress award for her performance.

She rejoined great director Zhang Yimou of Hero and The Road Home to take the next step in wuxia martial arts films, House of Flying Daggers. This was Zhang Ziyi's biggest action role since Crouching Tiger. Ziyi again received exuberant critical recognition around the world, including a BAFTA nomination for Best Actress, one of the few times such a honor has been bestowed for an "action role."

In early 2004 Ziyi worked on her first Japanese film Princess Raccoon, directed by the grand old man of Japanese cinema, Seijun Suzuki. Ziyi plays a raccoon spirit princess in this musical love-story.

In late 2004 and though much of 2005, Ziyi worked on Memoirs of a Geisha, her first major Hollywood role, in which she starred with Ken Watanabe, Michelle Yeoh, and Gong Li. Adapted from the bestselling novel, the movie tells the story of a young girl who is sold into a Kyoto geisha house.

In late 2005 Ziyi began work on The Banquet, an historical drama of revenge set in Tang dynasty China, loosely based upon Hamlet. It is directed by Feng Xiaogang, and was released in the fall of 2006.

Cover art

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon

$11.95 | 120 minutes

(1999) - Star(s)

Known for making films about familial relationships, director Ang Lee surprised everyone with his martial arts epic CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON. Based on a novel by Wang Du Lu, CROUCHING TIGER starts with the revenge plot common in the&hellip…

buy nowmore info
Cover art

Purple Butterfly

$11.95 | 127 minutes

(2004) - Actor

This melancholic, brooding romantic thriller stars Zhang Ziyi (HERO; CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON) as Ding Hui, a Chinese woman who is part of a secret anti-Japanese terrorist organization in 1931 Shanghai. Three years earlier, under&hellip…

buy nowmore info