One of cinema’s most unusual recent phenomena is for established Hollywood actors to take supporting roles in Chinese blockbusters, with countless names having appeared in local productions over the last few years, and it wouldn’t be too harsh to say that in the majority of cases, it’s abundantly clear that they’ve got one eye firmly on the paycheck.
Of course, there’s always an exception to the rule, and in this case, it’s Christian Bale’s typically committed and accomplished performance in Zhang Yimou’s $100 million epic Flowers of War, but his peers haven’t been quite so dedicated. Adrien Brody and John Cusack appeared in historical actioner Dragon Blade, Michael Douglas lent his gravitas to Animal World, Matt Damon and his wig battled monsters in The Great Wall and Arnold Schwarzenegger hammed it up in the bizarre Iron Mask.
Given the lucrative financial packages on offer to head over to China and phone it in, it was only natural that Bruce Willis would eventually make his way East, given that he’s been firmly on autopilot for the best part of a decade. The Die Hard legend took second billing behind local megastar Liu Ye in Air Strike, with his daughter Rumer also, and probably not coincidentally, playing a minor role.
In an even stranger turn of events, Mel Gibson was the art director and creative adviser on the $65 million World War II drama, which is coming to Netflix next month. The period piece is set in 1943 and focuses on the terror bombing operations launched on the municipality of Chongqing that lasted for five years. It’s one of Bruce Willis‘ more overlooked recent efforts, and Air Strike could well find a decent audience when it debuts on the platform in April.