Zhang Yimou has become quite an unpredictable, interesting director in recent years. He established himself with lush, dramatic, even operatic historical pieces, and more recently reinvented himself as a master of colorful, elaborately choreographed martial arts dramas like Hero and House of Flying Daggers. Along the way, there was the quiet, poetic epic The Road Home. And most recently, he baffled everybody by remaking the Coen Brothers’ crime-story classic Blood Simple.

What’s next? He and Christian Bale are joining forces for an interesting project. And it looks like Christian Bale will be playing a Christian character again for the first time since… what, The New World?

AV Club:

Christian Bale will follow The Dark Knight Rises with a starring role in Chinese director Zhang Yimou’s big-budget epic Nanjing Heroes, which dramatizes the events of the 1937 Nanking Massacre. Bale will play an American priest who helps save a number of refugees after Japanese troops capture what was then the nation’s capital and set about murdering soldiers and civilians and raping thousands of women. It’s a tragic event in Chinese history that’s been the subject of several domestic and foreign films of late, including Lu Chuan’s City Of Life And Death and Florian Gallenberger’s John Rabe, which celebrated the German businessman and Nazi leader—sometimes called the “Oskar Schindler of China”—who saved thousands of Chinese by using his influence with Japan’s military. Rabe is, of course, a central figure in Yimou’s story as well, so there’s potential for another internationally recognized star to join the film.