Helmer predicts new wave of Chinese pix

PUSAN, Korea — U.S. helmer Doug Liman was at the Pusan Film Festival Monday to tubthump for martial arts comedy “The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman,” on which he has an exec producer credit and which is backed by Fox International Prods.

Liman said the pic, which is directed by China’s Wuershan, has what it takes to appeal to both Chinese and international auds, and that he anticipates a new wave of successful movies to come out of China.

“It’s aimed at a Chinese audience first and foremost, but I personally believe it has the ability to travel because of the action and the humor, and the sheer exhilaration of the filmmaking,” Liman told Variety Monday.

China has featured large at the fest, and is a constant presence in the forums and at the Asian Film Market.

“Butcher,” which features Masanobu Ando, Kitty Zhang, You Benchang, Liu Xiaoye and Ashton Xu, is the first commercial outing for Wuershan.

“It’s a most unconventional and non-traditional approach to martial arts, and it will bring something new to the genre. It’s also structurally non-conventional,” said Liman, whose credits include “Swingers,” “Bourne Identity” and “Mr. & Mrs. Smith.”

Alongside Fox, the project is being backed by First Cut Studios, Taihe Universal Film Investment, Union Voole Technology, Zixuxuanyang Cultural Development and Bolong Investment.

Liman said his travels in Asia had opened his eyes to the possibilities offered in the continent, and he was hoping to do more work in China.

“It was amazing to see local language movies doing better than U.S. movies. We grew up assuming the U.S. would dominate. ‘The Butcher, the Chef and the Swordsman’ is a first step, a way of jumping in and immersing myself in the Chinese film community. It’s a harbinger of things to come,” Liman said.

“Different countries have their moments and I feel like we will look back and say this was the beginning of the Chinese Wave,” he said.

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