CHINESE DOCTORS, an anti-COVID-19 film directed by Andrew Lau and co-supervised by him and Li Jinwen, is scheduled for premiere in Chinese Mainland on July 9. The film, featuring Zhang Hanyu and Yuan Quan who have worked together for yet another time, depicts a group of heroic Chinese medical workers fighting COVID-19 at the frontline. Demonstrating superb performance skills and showing great respect for the roles they act, they tried to reflect the reality wherever possible, in a bid to pay tribute to all medical workers for their contributions.
The film is based on true stories taking place mainly in Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, as well as other hospitals such as Wuhan Tongji Hospital, Wuhan Pulmonary Hospital, Wuhan Union Hospital, People’s Hospital of Wuhan University (Hubei Provincial People’s Hospital), Huoshenshan Hospital, and modular hospitals, comprehensively recording the arduous fight staged by the local medical workers and aiding medical teams from across the country.
At the beginning of the pandemic, Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, a hospital specializing in infectious diseases, is one of the first hospitals engaged in the battle. Afterwards, to admit COVID-19 patients as many as possible, Jinyintan Hospital converted their offices into ICUs, undertaking much of the critically ill patient treatment work, and resisted the pressure of over workload until the arrival of aiding medical teams. Moreover, at the most critical period, Jinyintan Hospital made the decision to arrange and empty wards for COVID-19 patients by discharging regular patients. This act fully embodies medical workers’ commitment to their patients and China’s commitment to the world.
General producer of CHINESE DOCTORS and president of Bona Film Group Yu Dong revealed that his inspiration of this film was from a photo of Zhong Nanshan traveling to the frontline Wuhan against COVID-19 by a train. “Scenes that medical teams from all over China setting off for Hubei and medical workers in Wuhan fighting on the frontline gave us impulse of creation.” Therefore, Bona Film Group reconvened the original crew of THE CAPTAIN, and visited hospitals in Wuhan to collect relevant materials immediately after travel restrictions on passes to Wuhan and Hubei were lifted in April 2020. On their visit to Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital, all of them were moved by stories once happened here, so in the end they decided to take this hospital, “the eye of the pandemic”, as the main setting of the film, and unfold the magnificent anti-pandemic picture from the small hospital. “This film is produced by all of us sparing no effort”, according both Yu Dong and Andrew Lau, “When creating this consolatory and exciting realistic film, all of us were filled with awe and sincerity and have every intention to make it a work paying our respect to Chinese medical workers and all Chinese who have contributed to the battle.”
With its rich and truthful details, CHINESE DOCTORS shows the audience medical workers’ commitments. The commitment is to save patients against time no matter how challenging the situation may be. President Zhang Jingyu of Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital in the film, played by Zhang Hanyu, united all staff of the hospital who with all medical workers aiding Hubei together give COVID-19 patients the confidence to recover and bring them hope to heal. This role is based on Zhang Dingyu, winner of the national honorary title “People’s Hero”, vice director of the Health Commission of Hubei Province, and president of Wuhan Jinyintan Hospital in reality. As president of the hospital, Zhang Dingyu, with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in his body and bearing the hit that his wife had infected with COVID-19, still fought on the frontline, and treated and saved more than 2800 COVID-19 patients.
To play this role, Zhang Hanyu went for Zhang Dingyu in Wuhan and stayed with him for a few days prior to shooting. “In those days, when he went to make ward rounds, I followed him everyday to experience what being a doctor is like,” said Zhang Hanyu, “I was impressed by his personality that he has a clearcut stand on what to love and what to hate and I added it into my performance.” So it is fair to say that Zhang Hanyu sufficiently prepared for this role as we will see in the film that he not only speaks Hubei dialect throughout the film, but also, considering that Zhang Dingyu is an ALS patient, pays much attention to his physical gestures. In this film, Yu Quan played Ren Wenting, Director of the Department of Critical Care Medicine. To truthfully show audience medical workers’ state in the battle, she contributed her “disfigurement performance” with prints of masks left on her cheeks and her skin soaked white by sweat due to long-time wearing of protective clothing, goggles, and mask. Exhausted each time she appears though, her eyes are always full of firmness and braveness of a doctors… For a critical scene, Yuan Quan had herself in protective clothing for eight straight hours. But she said she hadn’t pay attention to the time, what is in her head then was how to get closer to the real effect. “Once you put on that clothing and get into that state, you will forget the time,” said Yuan Quan. To play this role, other than practicing operational skills such as putting up protective clothing and learning medical knowledge, she had to consult real medical workers who have fought on the frontline about their mental experience in the battle. “What is more important than operational skills is to find the psychological support of the role,” she added modestly, “I dare not say I have mastered anything as a medical worker through this film. I was just trying to make my moves more similar to theirs by learning from them. It can’t be that easy to become a qualified medical worker. They are great. Homage to them.”