Actor dives into 'Ocean Paradise'

Martial arts star Jet Li is to return to Chinese cinema — in a non-chopsocky role — in “Ocean Paradise,” screenwriter Xue Xiaolu’s helming debut.

The film is set in the harbor city of Qingdao and focuses on father-son relationships.

Hong Kong-based Edko Films, the studio/distrib owned by producer Bill Kong (“Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” “Lust, Caution”), will distribute the pic in China and Hong Kong.

This is Li’s first outing in China since Peter Chan’s 2007 epic “The Warlords” and follows three movies in Hollywood, including “The Forbidden Kingdom” with Jackie Chan and “The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor.” He has just finished shooting a small part in Sylvester Stallone’s “The Expendables.”

Xue was the scribe on Chen Kaige’s “Together” in 2002.

The pair appeared at a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday to tubthump the pic along with Taiwanese actress Kwai Lun-mei, Chen Rui and Wen Zhang.

Li made his name as a martial arts champion in China, before moving to Hong Kong where he starred in the “Once Upon a Time in China” series. In Hollywood his credits include “Lethal Weapon 4″ and “Romeo Must Die.”

Like many mainland celebs, Li also appears in “The Great Cause of China’s Foundation,” a propaganda movie about the founding of the People’s Republic of China 60 years ago.

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