Chen's 'Mei' gets December debut

Biopic stars Zhang Ziyi, Hong Kong's Lai

BEIJING -- Director Chen Kaige's "Mei Lanfang," starring actress Zhang Ziyi and Leon Lai -- who plays the title role of China's most famous Peking opera star -- will be released by the end of the year, local media reported Thursday.

The biopic will be released Dec. 12, according to the China Daily, which cited producer Han Sanping, chairman of the China Film Group. CFG could not be reached for confirmation.

The newspaper said that early footage of the film resembles Chen's 1993 Peking opera movie "Farewell My Concubine," starring Gong Li, winner of the Palme d'Or at the Festival de Cannes that year.

Still in post-production, "Mei" already has distributors in Japan and South Korea, the daily said. The film also stars actress Chen Hong, who is the director's wife, and Japanese actor Masanobu Ando.