Encore sets chopsocky doc

Cabler to chronicle the history of kung-fu movies

NEW YORK — John Malone’s Encore cable network plans to kick some ass, commissioning a feature-length documentary on the history of kung-fu movies, from silent films produced in Shanghai in the 1920s to American adaptations like “The Matrix” and “Mission: Impossible II.”

“Nobody has ever done a documentary like this, despite the fact that martial-arts movies are one of the most popular genres out there,” said Bob Leighton, president of Starz Encore Entertainment.

Still untitled docu, produced by Point Blank Prods., is already in the works. The producer is Joni Levin, and Keith Clarke is the writer-director.

Already filmed are interviews in Hong Kong with Raymond Chow, founder of Golden Harvest (“Return of the Dragon”); director Stanley Tong (“Supercop”); and cinematographer Pei Pei Cheung (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”). In the U.S., director McG (“Charlie’s Angels”) and actors like Steven Seagal and David Carradine have sat for Q&As on camera.

“The industry has relegated martial-arts movies to the back room, like second-class citizens,” Leighton said, ignoring the fact that kung fu “has moved to the forefront of popular culture.”

Encore plans to time the scheduling of the docu to coincide with the premiere of “Crouching Tiger” on Starz! in January.

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