Making of a Hero

Zhang Ziyi rolls across a library floor in a gauzy white tunic, trying to perfect an action stunt and she's in pain. Her forefinger is a swollen lump, bruised from an injury the previous day, and each thrust of her sword sets it throbbing anew. Her instructor lists the problems to work on: straighten the legs, revolve the body faster and finish at a better angle. Ziyi huffs, shuffles her Nikes, then dives again. No good. She squeals in agony. Director Zhang Yimou gives his action director the word: "Simplify it." Cinematographer Chris Doyle heaves a sympathetic sigh, which...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!