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November 10, 2009

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Wushu film about female assassin

JOHN Woo's latest movie, now being filmed in Shanghai, is about a retired female assassin and gang leader in ancient times whose past catches up with her.

The US$12 million-budgeted film stars kung fu star Michelle Yeoh making her return to the martial arts epic genre after Ang Lee's Oscar-winning film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" (2000).

The film "Jian Yu Jianghu" ("Rain of Swords in the Martial Arts World") is a joint directorial effort between Woo and young Taiwanese film maker Su Chao-pin, known for box-office hits "Silk" and "Twenty Something Taipei." He wrote the script for "Rain."

The film is to be released next summer.

Woo's two-episode historical war epic "Red Cliff" has become the highest-grossing Chinese-language film in Chinese film history, earning more than 500 million yuan (US$73.53) in box office on the Chinese mainland.

The Hollywood-based Hong Kong director says he aims to break stereotypes of martial arts films. Its cinematography will be very different, he says.

"When I read it three yeas ago, I was very excited," Woo recalls. "It's one of the best scripts I have ever seen. We decided to film it."

Yeoh plays a retired female assassin and gang chief who falls in love with the son of a man whose father was killed by her gang.

"Traditional martial arts films used to simply assign good guy-bad guy labels to the characters," the actress says.

"But in this film, we see complex personalities. The past really haunts the present. Everyone is trying to discover his true self and find balance in life again."

The film aims for the global market and has a star-studded cast, including Chinese mainland actor Wang Xueqi, Hong Kong actor Shawn Yue, Taiwanese pop star Barbie Hsu and South Korean actor Jung Woo-song.

Costumes are created by Japanese designer Emi Wada, noted for the Oscar-winning creations in Akira Kurosawa's "Ran" and efforts behind the technicolor wardrobe of Zhang Yimou's "Hero" and "House of Flying Daggers."

The martial arts film also features Woo's daughter, Angeles, in a supporting role of a mysterious killer.

Angeles follows her father's film path. In 2004, her directorial debut film "Coleridge's Couch" was entered in the short film contest at the 61st Venice International Film Festival.


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