The Great Wall trailer: watch Matt Damon in Zhang Yimou's stunning new fantasy epic

Matt Damon stars in The Great Wall. Photo / Youtube
Matt Damon stars in The Great Wall. Photo / Youtube

A new trailer for Zhang Yimou's The Great Wall, a fantasy epic set in Medieval China and starring Matt Damon as a mercenary who believes he has finally found "a war worth fighting", has been released.

Filmed entirely in China, the £100 million-plus (approx. $173m NZ) blockbuster promises breathtaking visuals (check out those dragons!) and a stunning cinematic realisation of China's most famous landmark.

Its central conceit? The Great Wall of China, constructed over 2,000 years ago, was built to keep out something very, very bad...

While Yimou's film clearly falls into the fantasy genre, this hasn't granted it immunity from accusations of "whitewashing", with some people querying whether a movie set in a quasi-historical China really needs a white lead.

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The Great Wall cast. Photo / Youtube
The Great Wall cast. Photo / Youtube

The casting of Damon, who stars in the film alongside the Chinese actress Jing Tian, Pedro Pascal (Oberyn Martell in Game of Thrones) and Willem Dafoe, caused some controversy earlier this year.

"You can set a story anywhere in the world, in any era of history, and Hollywood will still somehow find a way for the movie to star a white guy. You can count on it," wrote the blogger Angry Asian Man in a Twitter post.

(L - R) Actors Andy Lau, Matt Damon, director Zhang Yimou, Jing Tian and Pedro Pascal attend The Great Wall press conference at Park Hyatt Hotel. Photo / Getty
(L - R) Actors Andy Lau, Matt Damon, director Zhang Yimou, Jing Tian and Pedro Pascal attend The Great Wall press conference at Park Hyatt Hotel. Photo / Getty

Yimou has defended his decision to cast A-lister Damon, and pointed out that the 45-year-old star of the Bourne movies isn't, in fact, Great Wall's lead: instead he's one of four central characters.

"Our film is not about the construction of the Great Wall," the director said in August.

Jing Tian in The Great Wall. Photo / Youtube
Jing Tian in The Great Wall. Photo / Youtube

"Matt Damon is not playing a role that was originally conceived for a Chinese actor. The arrival of his character in our story is an important plot point. There are five major heroes in our story and he is one of them - the other four are all Chinese."

The Great Wall is released in the UK on February 24 2017.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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