Cast and crew “The Wasted Times” meet the press in Beijing, Dec. 1, 2016. [Photo provided to]

The crime epic “The Wasted Times” starring Zhang Ziyi and Ge You has been kept in secrecy for three years and will now be fully revealed in a last ditch promotional effort amidst a lukewarm film market.

According to a series of trailers, the film portrays an era of old Shanghai with mafia fights, conspiracies, romance and murder. “The title tells you all, that the film is about how beautiful things and times that we loved have gone and been wasted,” director Cheng Er said. He worked on the film for three years.

The film has an all-star cast, including Zhang Ziyi, Ge You, Tadanobu Asano, Gillian Chung, Yuan Quan, Yan Ni, Han Geng, Wallace Chung, Huo Siyan and more. Several stars showed up at a press conference on Thursday but Zhang Ziyi was absent due to schedule conflicts.

The film is also unique because most of its dialogue is in Shanghai dialect.

“This is a kind of film we have never done before,” said producer Wang Zhongjun, founder and president of Huayi Brothers Media Corp. “Whether audiences will love this style, I don’t know. But I personally love it. It’s something like China’s answer to ‘Once Upon a Time in America’. “

“I have seen the final cut; it probably is one of the best Chinese films ever made,” Huayi CEO Ye Ning proclaimed.

Though having shinning stars and support from film giants such as Huayi and Emperor Motion Picture, the promotion of “The Wasted Times” doesn’t seem big enough considering its weight as one of the significant films of the New Year film season.

But the distributors announced that they would tour nine cities for intense publicity to compensate for its previous low-profile. The film was earlier scheduled for release in China on Oct. 3, 2015, which was then changed to a Dec. 23 release this year and then once again changed to Dec. 16, in order to challenge the release of Zhang Yimou’s all-star blockbuster “The Great Wall.”

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