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Movie gangster star to bring Confucius to life

CONFUCIUS is getting the star treatment, with Chow Yun-Fat cast as the ancient philosopher in a US$22-million government-backed biopic.

Best known for his gangster roles in Hong Kong films, Chow will be swapping his trademark trench coat and pistols for scholarly robes and scrolls in the 150-million-yuan (US$21.96 million) joint production from Beijing-based Dadi Cinema and the state-run China Film Group, a Dadi Cinema official said.

The official said shooting was due to start in about three weeks.

The movie is part of a revival of Confucius and his philosophy, recognized as the source of Chinese traditional culture.

During the 1966-1976 "cultural revolution," enforcers known as "red guards" descended on Confucius' family home, the family grave and a temple honoring him in his hometown of Qufu in east China's Shandong Province, destroying about 6,600 relics.

But the status of the ancient sage has been increasingly reaffirmed in recent years.

Confucian classics were given higher status at universities and even prisons were reportedly teaching Confucian philosophy to prisoners.

The Chinese government started setting up Confucius Institutes abroad in 2004 to promote Chinese language and culture. A female professor's book of reflections on the classic Confucian text "Analects" became a massive hit.

A quote from Confucius expressing his pleasure of seeing friends who have come from afar featured in the lavish opening ceremony for the Beijing Olympics last year designed by famed Chinese director Zhang Yimou.


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