EMG gearing up for chop-socky franchise

HONG KONG With a name like “The Twins Effect,” it makes sense there would be two; the strange part is that the two are not really related.

After the success of “The Twins Effect” — last year’s second-highest-grossing film in Hong Kong — Emperor Motion Picture Group (EMG) is gearing up for “The Twins Effect II.”

Don’t call it a sequel, though. “The Twins Effect II” is just a working title, and this project will follow an entirely different story, says EMG chief exec Albert Lee.

“TE-II” is a period action comedy set in the mythical past, as opposed to the original’s futuristic setting. Also, unlike the first one, a vampire actioner, this one won’t feature any bloodthirsty scare-meisters. EMG also selected new directors: Pic will be co-helmed by Corey Yuen and Patrick Leung.

Original “Twins Effect” stars Charlene Choi and Gillian Chung, collectively known as the pop group Twins (who, incidentally, are not twins and are not even related) return for this martial arts adventure. In what’s expected to be a draw for auds, pic marks the screen debut of Jackie Chan’s son, 21-year-old Jaycee Chan.

Lee says that Chan will play a young prince and have the opportunity to show his stuff in several action scenes. Famous father Jackie Chan will have a cameo role, as he did in the original. “This will help target the overseas market, and help enhance the appeal of the film,” says Woody Tsung, chief exec of the Hong Kong Motion Picture Industry Assn.

The cast also includes Hong Kong heavy-hitters Donnie Yen, pop star and actor Edison Chen, Tony Leung Ka-fai and Daniel Wu.

The $10 million film began shooting Feb. 7 in southwest China’s Yunnan Province. “TE-II” will be filmed in Cantonese with the mainland and Taiwanese actors speaking Mandarin. “We’ll figure out what to do later on,” says Lee.

The film is expected to be completed by mid-April and is targeting a release in Hong Kong and other major Asian territories during the second week of August. Overseas distribution is currently under discussion.

Meanwhile, EMG has a number of other projects in development. One, with acclaimed helmer Lo Chi-leung, will start production in May or June. Teenage romantic pic, which has an estimated budget of $2 million, is mainly a vehicle to showcase one of Emperor Group’s new artists, 16-year-old Hong Kong actress Isabella Leong. This will be one of her first screen appearances.

Also in development are projects with filmmakers Jeff Lau, Corey Yuen, Joe Ma and Dante Lam.

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