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Christian Bale will star in Zhang Yimou's Nanjing Heroes

Chinese director Zhang Yimou has announced that Christian Bale will star in Nanjing Heroes .

The Hero director broke the news at a recent press conference.

The film will have a budget of approximately $90m, and will make use of the Hollywood effects team behind Saving Private Ryan .

The plot will focus on the infamous Nanjing Massacre of 1937, during which hundreds of Chinese soldiers were murdered and thousands of women raped by the Japanese Army.

As the exact details of the events are still disputed, expect this one to attract its fair share of controversy, especially when it comes to the issue of international distribution.

Bale is set to play an American priest who helps a vast number of Chinese people escape the massacre.

Apparently the film will be prominently shot in Mandarin Chinese, with about 40% of the dialogue set to be in English.

The film will be a change of pace for Bale after The Dark Knight Rises , and we can imagine that Zhang won't be using his trademark über-stylised direction on such serious subject matter.

Bale's presence should certainly help this Chinese-funded movie find a Western audience.