Shaolin temple kicks off chopsocky pic

Chan, Lau, Tse costar in 'Temple'

ZHENZHOU, China — Chinese auds can gear up for a flurry of swirling robes and fists of fury as Jackie Chan, Andy Lau and Nicholas Tse assume a kung fu stance alongside mainland Chinese star Fan Bingbing in the $29 million chopsocky blockbuster “Shaolin Temple.”

Pic will be helmed by Hong Kong’s Benny Chan, who made “New Police Story” and “Rob-B-Hood,” and it will also feature martial arts star Wu Jing, Yu Shaoqun (“Forever Enthralled”) and thousands of Shaolin disciples from the temple.

Kung fu is undergoing an enormous renaissance in China these days, and a lot of this revived interest has focused on the legendary and ancient Shaolin monastery in Henan province, immortalized in the 1970s skein “Kung Fu.”

“Shaolin Temple” will be a co-production of Emperor Motion Pictures, China Film Group, Huayi Bros. Media Corp., Beijing Silver Moon Prods. and China Songshan Shaolin Temple Culture Communication Center.

The remake of the 1980s kung fu pic of the same name was launched at a ceremony at Shaolin in Songshan attended by Emperor Group chairman Albert Yeung, China Film Group chairman Han Sanping and Shaolin Temple abbot Shi Yongxin, among others.

Action director is Cory Yuen, who did “Red Cliff” and “The Transporter.”

The temple, built in 495 A.D., is widely regarded as the birthplace of Shaolin kung fu; in recent years, its abbot Shi has proven a canny marketer for his martial-arts shrine.

“We felt that it was important not to rush into a film project just for the sake of making another film. It has taken us a long time to find the right partners who had all the right elements for something as monumental as this,” Shi said.

Shooting for “Shaolin” is expected to start at the end of this year with a release slated for late 2010.

This is Emperor’s second big announcement in as many days — Hong Kong action hero Chow Yun-fat will feature in Chinese helmer Jiang Wen’s $18 million period Western laffer “Let the Bullets Fly,” which is in production.

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