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Slumped on the cool tatami mats of a Japanese restaurant in Beijing, Jiang Wen looks spent. China's gruffest actor and boldest director has been slouching and smoking and dishing out melancholy in front of the camera all day, and he can look forward to more of the same through the night. His 1.83-meter, 98-kilo frame crumples against the wall, his eyes beat and basset-hound weary.

Jiang has every reason to be exhausted. He's a notoriously choosy actor who usually appears in just one movie a year, yet his brooding mug will flicker through five films in the next...

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