Oh No They Didn't: Spielberg and Yimou Want in on "Journey To the West"

by | August 15, 2006 | Comments

A day after we got word of a possible Peter Jackson-Jet Li-Jackie Chan collaboration, it seems that Steven Spielberg — also rumored to have been interested in adapting the "Journey to the West" Chinese epic — might indeed give the JetJackie pic a run for its money. And he’s got a big name in Chinese cinema in his posse.

MonkeyPeaches.com is reporting that not only is Spielberg interested, but that he would do his "Journey to the West" in tandem with Chinese director Zhang Yimou ("Hero," "House of Flying Daggers"). The news comes from Chinese producer and Yimou pal Zhang Weiping, who told Sina.com that the two renowned directors "agreed to make a movie together and this movie would probably be based on Classic Chinese fantasy novel Journey to the West."

Jet and Jackie: Looks like you’ve got company

Is Weiping a credible source? He’s produced six of Yimou’s last projects, including the now-filming "Curse of the Golden Flower," which stars Chow Yun-Fat and Gong Li, and has already been picked up by U.S. distributor Sony Pictures Classics. Oh, and by the way, Weiping has stated that he and Yimou are already gunning to win Best Foreign Film at the next Oscars with "Flower."

While the Spielberg-Yimou collaboration has yet to begin, both directors are apparently set to produce the 2008 Olympics ceremonies in Beijing.

A Zhang Ziyi – Jackie Chan rematch? A Gong Li – Jet Li showdown?

And who might join the pair in a "Journey to the West?" A smart bet might be on Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi, who was discovered in Yimou’s "The Road Home" (1999) and appeared later in both "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers" for the director. Ziyi also starred in the Spielberg-produced "Memoirs of a Geisha" and is arguably the most recognizable Asian actress in Hollywood — a key casting move if the Spielberg-Yimou project aims for American audiences.

Another frequent Yimou collaborator is Gong Li ("Ju Dou," "Raise the Red Lantern,") who also appeared in "Memoirs" and widened her Hollywood exposure with this summer’s "Miami Vice."

Which begs the question: who is the powerhouse team in this American-Chinese folk-legend adaptation face-off? Peter Jackson/Jet Li/Jackie Chan or Steven Spielberg/Zhang Yimou/Zhang Ziyi?

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