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‘Infernal’ director teams for ‘Water’

Lau, Media Asia pair on big-budget action film

“Infernal Affairs” director Andrew Lau Wai-kung and leading Hong Kong studio Media Asia have reteamed to produce big-budget Chinese-language actioner “Water Margin.”

Pic is an adaptation of one of China’s four classic novels and sees 108 outlaws form a resistance movement to oppose the feudal king. Story was previously made as a movie by Shaw Bros. and helmer Chang Cheh and had been adapted for TV and as a comicbook.

“This is a story that everyone in China knows well,” Lau said. “We (see) this as a three-part franchise with me directing the first movie and Johnnie To doing the second and me acting as producer.”

Budget is pegged at some HK$2 billion ($250 million) for the trilogy.

Media Asia has financed development, costume and weapon design and scouting to date, and is in talks with mainland China’s China Film Group as co-financier. Lau, one of the rare Hong Kong directors comfortable with large-scale studio shoots, intends the pic to be one of the first to make use of the new 16-stage studio complex that CFG is building at Huairou, near Beijing.

Lau, who recently signed a Hong Kong representation and production deal with Media Asia, is also readying three Asian-themed, English-language movies at Qi. Shingle is a U.S. company owned jointly with “24” producer Tony Krantz, which has a multipicture deal with the Weinstein Co.

As well as the “Infernal Affairs” trilogy, which were co-helmed with Alan Mak, Lau previously directed both “Confession of Pain” and hit street race movie “Initial D” for Media Asia.

Helmer may appear on U.S. screens sooner than that. “The Flock,” a drama he made for Bauer-Martinez that was held up by disagreements over cut, has now been finished by its star Richard Gere. Lau said pic will likely be released in December.

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