Helmer signs on for 'Rouge' remake

John Woo will direct “The Red Circle,” an updated remake of the Jean-Pierre Melville-directed 1970 French pic “Le Cercle Rouge” for Paramount.

Jeff Pinkner will script the action thriller, and Woo and his Lion Rock Prods. partner, Terence Chang, will produce with Arthur Sarkissian.

The original noir tale starred Alain Delon and centered on a thief who is released from prison the same day a murderer escapes police custody. The outlaws pair up and commit a heist as a relentless cop closes in.

Pinkner earned his action stripes exec producing “Alias,” and assisting in the creation of the new ABC hit “Lost,” on which he is executive consultant.

“Rush Hour” producer Sarkissian obtained remake rights to “Le Cercle Rouge” several years ago and has been trying since then to mount a remake. The Lion Rock partners sparked to themes reminiscent of Woo’s Hong Kong crime dramas like “Hard Boiled” and “The Killer.”

Par execs Brian Witten and Tom Jacobson will steer the project.

“John has been obsessed with the original film since he saw it, and you can see some influence on his Hong Kong films,” Chang said. “John has wanted to go back to his roots a bit, and this is a good opportunity to make something different from the rest of his American films.”

The job led to two separate scripts by Pinkner.

“Terence and John introduced me to the film, but when I first met with them, they had trouble securing the rights, and I wrote another spec script for them, one that is loosely based on the life of gangster Legs Diamond,” Pinkner said. “The rights came back around when I finished, and I jumped at the chance because I adore the crime noir element of the original. It’s ripe for updating.”

Woo and Chang are prepping the Rock vehicle “Spy Hunter,” and Woo is planning to follow by directing “The War of the Red Cliff,” based on Asian historical events from the year 200 A.D. He’ll circle back to “The Red Circle” after that.

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