New ‘Battle’ plan

Pan-Asian prod'n gets earlier November date

The latest historical war epic to come out of China, “Battle of Wits” by Hong Kong helmer Jacob Cheung, will bow across Asia starting the end of November, earlier than expected.

Pic, starring Andy Lau, will preem on Nov. 16 in Beijing, Shanghai on Nov. 17 and Hong Kong on Nov. 18. It will unspool across China, Hong Kong and Taiwan starting on Nov. 23. Its Korean release date is Jan. 18 and it will open in Japan on Jan. 30.

“Battle” will roll out on 430 prints and 170 digital prints — similar in scale to blockbuster pics “Rob-B-Hood,” starring Jackie Chan, and the big-budget “The Banquet.”

Based on a well-known Japanese manga series, the film’s story centers on a battle during China’s historical Warring States period (476-221 BC).

Lau plays a lone warrior who comes to the aid of a village under siege.

“Wits” was originally slated to open this year, but was then pushed back into 2007. The end of the year in China is looking heavy on historical war movies — Zhang Yimou’s martial-arts epic “Curse of the Golden Flower,” China’s entry for the foreign-language prize at the Oscars, is scheduled to bow in China on Dec. 23.

Coin for the $16 million production comes from China’s Huayi Brothers, Hong Kong’s Sundream Motion Pictures and Korean investment team Boram.

Also on board are Hong Kong- and Amsterdam-based sales agent Fortissimo Films and Japanese distrib Comstock.

As well as gathering coin from all over Asia, pic also stars many of the region’s big names, including Korean thesp Ahn Sung-ki, Taiwan’s Nicholas Wu, rising mainland Chinese star Fan Bingbing and veteran Chinese thesp Wang Zhiwen.

Pic was shot in China, including a huge battle scene in Inner Mongolia, while post-production was done in Beijing, Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand.

As a truly pan-Asian production, “Battle of Wits” has attracted the interest of filmmakers from all over the continent, keen to study the way the project was put together as a model for future projects.

Tech crew includes Japanese d.p. Sakamoto Zensh, stunt coordinator Tung Wai and Japanese composer Kawai Kenji.

Deal was completed by Iseki Satoru of Hong Kong-based World Top and Michael J. Werner of Fortissimo.

Producers and financiers will present publicly today in Pusan a discussion on the pic’s production.

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