Four ascend 'Red Cliff'

John Woo has cast Chow Yun-Fat, Ken Watanabe, Tony Leung Chiu-Wai and Taiwanese supermodel Lin Chi-Ling in his Chinese costumer, “The Battle of Red Cliff,” a co-production with the China Film Group.

Based on the classic Chinese novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms,” pic is set in the final days of the Han Dynasty in the year 208 and covers the war that established the Three Kingdoms period, when China had three rulers.

Historians reckon 1 million soldiers took part in the original battle of Red Cliff. Woo plans to set up six units to simultaneously shoot various scenes for the war epic.

Woo is again teaming with longtime associate Terence Chang to make the pic, which is aiming for release in the runup to the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.

Chang’s shingle, Lion Rock, will fund around 70% of the $50 million budget; Chinese investors will fund the rest.

Pic is due to start shooting in March from a screenplay by Wang Hui-ling (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon”).

Work has begun prepping the set in Yi County, Hebei Province.

Woo signed the deal with China Film chief Han Sanping at a news conference in Beijing on Monday.

Asian Union Film & Media previously had been linked to the project, but has dropped out and now is pushing to make a TV version of the same story.

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