By Jeff Labrecque
Updated November 08, 2011 at 10:03 PM EST
Flowers Of War
Credit: Alice Zou

Flowers of War, director Zhang Yimou’s Chinese epic about the brutal Japanese 1930s invasion and occupation, will receive an Oscar-qualifying release in late December, a spokesperson for the film said. In the U.S., Wreckin Hill will distribute the movie, which premieres in China on Dec. 16 and is already that country’s foreign-language selection for the Best Foreign Film Oscar. The limited American run, however, will enable award campaigns for Best Actor and Best Director. In the film, Christian Bale stars as a stranded American who pretends to be a priest to protect himself and others from the Japanese army. It’s not the first time Bale has played a character in such circumstances: In Steven Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun, he played a boy separated from his family in China during the same Japanese assault.

Watch the trailer for the new film, which blends English and Mandarin speaking roles, below: