China's Zhang Yimou to release black comedy: report

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Award-winning Chinese director Zhang Yimou has engineered another career shift with his latest movie -- a comedy remake of a Coen brothers thriller with a theme song rapped by the filmmaker himself.

(AFP) -

Award-winning Chinese director Zhang Yimou has engineered another career shift with his latest movie - a comedy remake of a Coen brothers thriller with a theme song rapped by the filmmaker himself.

"The First Gun" - set for release in China in early December - is Zhang's first film in three years and a rare comedy from the director of such films as "To Live", "Raise the Red Lantern" and "Red Sorghum".

The film is based on the Coen brothers' 1984 murder-laced "Blood Simple," but swaps the US film's Texas bar setting for a noodle shop in ancient China, while adding an ample dose of comedy, Zhang said in an online interview.

"This is the first time I have done a film like this," Zhang told leading Internet portal Sina.com.

"We have added a lot of things and changed the whole feeling (of Blood Simple)... we brought in a lot of comedic elements and changed the relationship and personalities of the characters."

Zhang, who is currently promoting the film, was shown on state television this week rapping out the lyrics to the film's theme song, which he wrote.

The film stars actor Sun Honglei and comic Xiao Shenyang, who soared to fame after his appearance on China Central Television's Spring Festival Gala earlier this year.

According to Xinhua news agency, the film cost 80 million yuan (11.7 million dollars) and will be distributed by the Beijing New Picture Film Co. for the lucrative December moviegoing season.

After an early career directing award-winning art house films, Zhang embarked on martial arts blockbusters in 2002 with his grandiose "Hero."

His last film, "Curse of the Golden Flower," was released in 2006.

Zhang directed the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. This year, he staged a production of the Italian opera "Turandot" at Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium, where the 2008 Olympic opening ceremony took place.

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