Jiang Wen

Jiang Wen

Chinese actor Wen Jiang enjoyed critical and box office acclaim as the star of such art house hits as "Hibiscus Town" (1986) and "Red Sorghum" (1987) before embarking on an equally praised career as writer and director of such diverse features as the drama "In the Heat of the Sun" (1994) and the crowd-pleasing action-comedy "Let the Bullets Fly" (2010). Born in the industrial city of Tangshan in China's Heibei Province, he was the eldest son of a military family that relocated to Beijing when Jiang was ten years of age. He began his study of acting in 1980 at the prestigious Chinese Academy of Drama, and upon graduating in 1984, immediately began his professional career with roles on stage. Two years later, his film career was launched with Xie Jin's historical drama "Hibiscus Town," about a woman (Liu Xiaoquing) who finds love with a college student (Jiang) during the turmoil of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. The popularity of the film, as well as a much publicized affair with Xiaoquing, an established an older actress, thrust Jiang into the spotlight, and he parlayed his newfound stardom into starring roles on the popular Chinese television series "A A Native of Beijing in New York" (CCTV, 1992) and as rough-hewn loners in major Chinese features, including Zhang Yimou's "Red Sorghum," which introduced him to international audiences, and Xie Fei's "Black Snow" (1990), which won the Silver Bear at the 40th Berlin International Film Festival. In 1994, Jiang made his debut as writer and director with "In the Heat of the Sun," a contemplative drama about the Cultural Revolution told from the perspective of a wayward teenager (Xia Yu). The film won the Golden Horse Award for Best Picture and established Jiang as a multi-hyphenate talent, though it would be another half-decade before he returned to the director's chair; he instead remained active as a performer, reuniting with Yimou for the comedy "Keep Cool" (1997) and winning a Hong Kong Film Award for his turn as missionary turned revolutionary Charlie Soong in "The Soong Sisters" (1997). During this period, Jiang also married French actress Sandrine Chenivesse shortly before commencing on his second project as director, "Devils on the Doorstep" (2000). The drama, about a Chinese villager (played by Jiang) who is forced to keep two Japanese soldiers captive during World War II, was a hit on the international circuit, where it claimed the Grand Prix Award at the 2000 Cannes Film Festival. But it ran afoul of censor boards in China, and Jiang was banned from directing acting for a period of time. He returned to performing in 2002, playing a cop who loses his weapon in a drunken stupor in "The Missing Gun," and co-starring with Zhao Wei in the offbeat romantic comedy "Green Tea" (2003) and the historical epic "Warriors of Heaven and Earth" (2003). On the latter picture, Wei introduced him to former beauty pageant contest Zhou Yun, who became Jiang's second wife in 2005. Two years later, she starred in his third directorial effort, "The Sun Also Rises" (2007), and took a supporting role in his blockbuster action-crime comedy "Let the Bullets Fly," starring Hong Kong superstar Chow Yun-fat. He followed this with a semi-sequel, "Gone with the Bullets" (2014) before making his English-language debut as an actor in "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" (2016), playing a hard-bitten mercenary and companion to Donnie Yen's Zen monk-like warrior.