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Chan pic ‘Binds’ new helmer

Filmmakers aghast at funding-problem rumors

HONG KONG — Production company Emperor Multimedia Group (EMG) wants to make it clear that losing a director won’t slow down Jackie Chan.

Bragging about the budget — EMG’s $35 million Chan starrer “Highbinders” is being touted as the most expensive film in Hong Kong movie history — seemed to backfire after rumors swirled that the flick’s funding was falling apart when director Reginald Hudlin recently withdrew from the project.

The speculation has EMG execs — who put Hudlin’s exit down to “creative differences” — aghast. “You don’t need to sell a Jackie Chan movie — people come to buy it,” says associate producer Bey Logan.

EMG chief exec — and veteran Hong Kong director — Gordon Chan (“2000 A.D.”) is now set to helm the pic, skedded to start shooting July 16. Sammo Hung steps in as action director. Chan and Hung previously teamed up with Chan for 1995’s “Thunderbolt.”

“Given that Jackie Chan only has a small window of opportunity, it made sense for us to put together a team that could hit the ground running,” Logan says. “We’re still very committed to working with international talent.”

The film’s script is predominantly in English, and is being polished by British film and TV writer Paul Wheeler (TV movie “The Way to Dusty Death”). The film will be lensed in Hong Kong and Ireland.

EMG says an American distribution deal is pending, and is aiming for a May 2002 release for the flick.