Cheung matches ‘Wits’ with China

Huayi Brothers funded $16 million prod'n

Hong Kong helmer Jacob Cheung has wrapped shooting on what promises to be one of the biggest Chinese films this year, “Battle of Wits,” a historical action pic starring Hong Kong thesp Andy Lau.

Coin for the $16 million production, based on a well-known Japanese manga, comes from the mainland’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.

“Battle of Wits” is the latest in a slew of pan-Asian projects, with China figuring ever more prominently, something Cheung sees as a growing trend.

“The market for films from individual countries is declining; a big market is needed to earn back the investment. The challenge is to find better stories for all the people in various countries in Asia,” said Cheung, best known for “Last Eunuch in China” and “Midnight Fly.”

“We no longer enjoy showing our movies in a small area like Hong Kong; we’re not comfortable with just one country seeing the movie. We want to share what we see and feel,” he said.

As well as securing coin from all over the continent, the cast includes Korean thesp Ahn Sung-ki (“Musa”), rising mainland Chinese star Fan Bing Bing (“The Huadu Chronicles”) and veteran Chinese thesp Wang Zhiwen (“Together”).

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.

Pic was shot in China, including a huge battle scene in Inner Mongolia.

Post-production will take place in Beijing, Japan, Hong Kong and Thailand.

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