Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My Asian Persuasion: Zhang Ziyi

The next 2 blogs to follow will be centered on gorgeous and talented Asian women. I must caution you though that they're beautiful, they're sexy and they're sweet but at the same time they can kick your ass in an instant!

Over the years Ziyi Zhang (born in Beijing, China) has built up a reputation of being one of the best-known Chines film actresses working today. She has to her credit both Chinese as well as international hit movies and has worked with some of the most famous directors of our time.

She joined the Beijing Dance Academy at the age of 11. She recognized at an early age her desire to become and actor so she entered the Central Academy (the most prestigious college in China) at the age of 15 and graduated at the top of her class.

At the age of 19 when she appeared in her first film "The Road Home" - a movie which won the Silver Bear award in the 2000 Berlin Film Festival.

She went on to win the Independent Spirit's Best Supporting Actress Award and the Toronto Film Critics' Best Supporting Actress Award for her outstanding performance in the overwhelmingly successful movie "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon".

In my opinion, this is the movie that 'made' Zhang. It certainly was my introduction to her and believe me, the impression that her performance made on me will be with me for a lifetime. I have since made it a priority to be aware of and view as many of her movies as I possibly can.

Her first appearance in an American movie was in "Rush Hour 2" and she certainly did not disappoint. In fact, I rank her performance at # 2 of my favorites. In as much as I'm singing her praises, it's ironic that two movies that I rate as the most awful of movies that I've seen, has her playing integral parts in them. Those movies being 'Hero" (with Jet Li) and "House of Flying Daggers" with (Takeshi Kaneshiro and Andy Lau). The plot lines in both those movies were just beyond me and left me scratching my head. And of course, both these movies have received great reviews and success.

One of the most interesting thing about Ziyi Zhang (and I believe one of the things that very many do not know) is that even though she has been in many kungfu movies, she is not actually a trained martial artist. Instead, Zhang uses many dance moves in her fight sequences. How super is that?

Zhang won the Hong Kong Film Critics' Best Actress Award and the Hong Kong Film Academy's Best Actress Award for her starring role in 2046 back in 2004.

Ziyi is the face of Maybelline, Garnier and Shangri-la Hotel and Resort Group.

She is also a Global Ambassador for the Special Olympics and a spokesperson for Care for Children, a foster-home program in China. Other ambassadors include California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; boxing legend Muhammad Ali; and Olympian Nadia Comaneci.

Forbes magazine's China edition ranked her the second most popular celebrity after NBA player 'Yao Ming'. [August 2004]

Was included in People magazine's 100 Most Beautiful People in the World the second year in a row in 2006. This is now her third appearance on the list.

Upcoming Movies:
Mulan (2008) (announced) (rumored) .... Mulan
Mei Lanfang (2008) (post-production) .... Meng Xiaodong
The Horsemen (2008) (post-production) .... Kristen

Awards won:
2000 - Best Actress for "The Road Home" Hundred Flowers Awards
2000 - Best Supporting Performance, Female for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - Young Artist Awards

2001 - Most Promising Actress - Chicago Film Critics Association Awards
2001 - Best Supporting Actress for "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" - Golden Rooster Awards
2001 - Best Supporting Female for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - MTV Movie Awards

2001 - Best Fight for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon *(Versus entire bar) - Toronto Film Critics Association Awards

2001 - Best Young Actress in an International Film for Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - Young Artist Award

2004 - Best Actress for "Mo li hua kai" - Hong Kong Film Awards
2005 - Best Actress for 2046 - Hong Kong Film Critics Society Awards
2005 - Best Actress for 2046 - Independent Spirit Awards