For years, it seemed that if you asked anyone in the mainstream to name a Chinese actress, you could count on consistent replies of “Gong Li,” and maybe a “Joan Chen” thrown in here and there. Increasingly, however, movie-goers are becoming aware of new kid on the block Zhang Ziyi.
Zhang is best known for her role in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (DVD | VHS), but before that film, and before appearing in “Rush Hour 2″ with Jackie Chan - and before one of her legs was featured on the cover of GQ magazine with Tobey McGuire - she made her film debut in the 1999 Zhang Yimou film The Road Home (DVD | VHS).
Bret Fetzer gives us this review of the film:
At the start of the film, a young man returns to his native village after the death of his father, the village’s schoolteacher, who died while trying to raise money for a new schoolhouse. His body is in a neighboring town; the young man’s mother insists that it be brought back on foot, lest his spirit not find his way home. From this starting point, the young man recounts the tale of his parents’ courtship, which involved a red banner, mushroom dumplings, a colorful barrette, and a broken bowl. [The Road Home] is beautifully filmed, particularly the luminous face of Zhang Ziyi (from [Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon]), whose performance is a heartrending portrait of hope and yearning. A simple but deeply emotional film. (Review courtesy of Amazon.com)
If you’ve seen Zhang Ziyi in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but not yet caught her in The Road Home, you’re doing yourself a disservice. The types of roles she plays in the two films are markedly different, and this comparison will give you some insight into the dramatic range she is capable of, unlike some screen personalities who seem to bring nearly the same “character” to every role they play. Keep your eye out for this rising star, one Miss Zhang Ziyi.