Col doing the ‘Hustle’

Asian unit preps Chow's comic actioner

SHANGHAI — Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia will start production June 27 on “Kung Fu Hustle,” the latest action comedy adventure from “Shaolin Soccer” star Stephen Chow.

Hong Kong-based Chow is a big name across Asia, where his acting, directing and producing credits (often on the same film) have earned him a large following.

“Shaolin Soccer” (2001), the highest-grossing film in Hong Kong, will be released in the U.S. by Miramax later this year.

“Kung Fu Hustle” features Chow as a wannabe gangster who is desperate to join the Axe Gang mob in 1940s Guangzhou.

According to Soon-En Wong, marketing director at Columbia TriStar in Hong Kong, “Kung Fu Hustle” will be the first in a fresh slate of co-productions set to be announced in the region.

“We are particularly pleased to have come onboard this film from day one,” he added. “It means that we can be involved in the actual production as well as putting together the marketing approach.”

Pic is to be produced by Chow’s the Star Overseas in association with mainland China co-prod partners China Film Group’s Fourth Production Co. and Huayi Brothers & Taihe Film Investment Co., who will handle local distribution. Columbia TriStar Film Distributors Intl. controls distribution for the rest of the world.

Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia also will release Feng Xiaogang’s “Cell Phone” in December.

Ge You and Feng’s wife, Xu Fan, star in the comedy about the impact of mobile phones on modern life. Pic is co-produced by Columbia, China Film Co-Production Corp. and Huayi Brothers & Taihe Film Investment.

Columbia’s “Warriors of Heaven and Earth,” written and directed by He Ping and starring Jiang Wen, will be released in China in September.

(Wendy Kan in Hong Kong contributed to this report.)

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