With his original 1996 film Irma Vep, writer-director Olivier Assayas took a defibrillator to the French film industry, attempting in his own puckish way to revitalize a cinema that had grown chaotic and creatively moribund.

In the film — as in this new miniseries — an international star is brought into Paris for a remake of Les Vampires, Louis Feuillade’s ten-episode silent serial about a journalist seeking to expose a secret society of underground criminals, including Irma Vep, a diabolical woman disguised in a black catsuit.

The role of René Vidal, the director of the movie-within-the-movie, was played by Jean-Pierre Léaud, a living legend whose role as Antoine Doinel in several François Truffaut movies, starting with The 400 Blows, made him the face of the French New Wave.

Casting Léaud as a washed-up, middle-age filmmaker overseeing a rudderless production was itself a nasty satirical jab.

At the time, Hong Kong cinema was ascendant, blitzing festivals and Hollywood with a wave of talented directors like John Woo, Tsui Hark, and Wong Kar-wai, and glamorous stars like Tony Leung, Jet Li, and Michelle Yeoh.

And so, as Irma Vep, Assayas cast perhaps the most alluring of all the Hong Kong stars, Maggie Cheung, to play herself.

Over the course of the film, Cheung’s feeling of isolation in an unfamiliar culture, where she travels between a lonely hotel suite and a movie set of confounding dysfunction, sends her deeper into the Irma Vep character.