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Thesp ankles Kaige pic

BEIJING — Director Chen Kaige’s next film, “Assassin,” has run into a bit of trouble. Sony Pictures Classics, which has picked up foreign distribution rights to the film, may be a bit concerned following the departure of lead actor Jiang Wen.

Jiang, who most recently starred in Zhang Yimou’s “Keep Cool,” was immediately replaced by Zhang Fengyi (from Chen’s “Farewell My Concubine”).

But the loss of Jiang just days before shooting of the film began in Beijing sent the project into a panic.

Jiang has earned a reputation in recent years as an actor with an attitude; reportedly, he and Chen had a verbal clash on the set in which harsh words were exchanged.

But the official explanation is that Jiang and the film’s producer, Shirley Kao of Tokyo-based New Wave Co., were unable to resolve contract discrepancies.

The film, in pre-production for a year, was scheduled to complete shooting within six months.

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