Universe takes swing at ‘Soccer’

Co. sez drama not a 'Shaolin' knock-off

HONG KONG — Universe Intl. Holdings is investing in TV drama for the first time with “Kung Fu Soccer.”

Company insists that despite the title, the program is not a knockoff of bigscreen hit “Shaolin Soccer.” “The only common factors are soccer and martial arts, and Universe,” said Koris Ha, distribution manager for Universe Films Distribution. “(Soccer) is the most popular sport all over the world.”

The drama, from production company Elite Master Holdings, will start shooting in late May and is expected to air locally at the end of the year. It will see veteran film actors Sandra Ng (“Golden Chicken”) and Anthony Wong (“Infernal Affairs”) return to the small screen to co-star with television actor Dicky Cheung.

Universe Films Distribution has nine theatrical films lined up including three starring Ekin Cheng, last seen in “My Wife Is 18” and who will be starring in Dante Lam’s upcoming action horror pic “The Twins Effect,” from EMG.

Raymond Yip is directing the $4.5 million action comedy “Anna and Shaolin,” starring Cheng and Miriam Yeung, and $2.6 million romantic comedy “My Dream Girl,” with Cheng and Chinese actress Vicki Zhao. Benny Chan (“Gen-X Cops”) will helm $3.8 million actioner “The Eyes Can Tell,” starring Cheng, Leon Lai and Karena Lam.

Raymond To helms drama “Miss To,” starring Michelle Reis, Lydia Sum and Daniel Wu, while Dante Lam is directing “Hit Team 2,” with Aaron Kwok and Eason Chan.

Canto-pop bands Twins and Boy’z will pair up for horror film “Screaming,” directed by Cheng Po-shui. Bad boy star Nicholas Tse is coupled with mainland actress Zhao in drama “Jade Quanyin,” directed by Ann Hui.

Steve Cheng is directing the lower-budget “The Conman 2003” and “Killer 2.”

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