Actor joins Gong Li, John Cusack in drama

The Weinstein Co. has set Ken Watanabe to join John Cusack and Gong Li in “Shanghai,” a period drama that will begin shooting in China next month. Mikael Hafstrom, who helmed Cusack in the Dimension hit “1408,” will direct a script by Hossein Amini.

Pic, which will shoot in Shanghai, is produced by Mike Medavoy and Barry Mendel. Arnie Messer is exec producer.

English-language film is the biggest project so far mounted by TWC through its Asian fund.

The drama, set four months prior to Dec. 7, 1941, follows an American who returns to a corrupt, Japan-occupied Shanghai to discover his friend has been killed. While trying to solve the murder, he falls in love and discovers a much larger secret that his own government is hiding.

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