Korea pic boxing in L.A.

Biopic using thousands of extras for San Fernando Valley shoot

South Korean filmmakers continue to spread their wings, with the boxing film “Champion” landing in Los Angeles for a weeklong shoot, which began Friday.

Several thousand local extras have been booked as ringside spectators for the true-life tale of Korean fighter Kim Deuk-gu, who doggedly went 14 rounds against Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas in 1982 before collapsing into a coma from a fatal blow.

In February, the production filmed for several days in Las Vegas, but the climatic match is being re-created at a site in the San Fernando Valley. The remainder of the $5 million film will be shot in South Korea. American Matt Phillips plays Mancini and Yoo Oh-sung portrays Kim.

Biopic’s director, Kwak Kyung-taek, who was 15 at the time of the fight, said the bout left an indelible impression on him.

Last year, Kwak’s gangster-themed feature “Friend” became the all-time top grosser in South Korea, generating some 8.2 million admissions. (“Titanic,” the most successful import to date, drew 4.5 million.)

“Champion” is a Zininsa Film production with major financing provided by Korea Pictures.

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