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Aattache proves a martial arts pic can be made in the Netherlands

ROTTERDAM– Holland has become the latest territory to cash in on the demand for martial arts films. Dutch company Riverpark Prods. has wrapped shooting on “Fighting Fish,” the territory’s first martial arts feature. Pic, set to premiere Dec. 4 across the Benelux territories, is the feature film directing debut of Jamel Aattache, a 29-year-old Rotterdam lenser with several short film and DVD credits, among them seven-minute martial arts film “The Good, the Bad and the Innocent.”

Aattache, who tells Variety he grew up watching Bruce Lee films, made the short with his own money “to prove to skeptics a martial arts film could be made in the Netherlands.” It has been picked up by Canal Plus and distributed to more than half a dozen territories, as well as screening at various fests in the past couple of years.

UIP has picked up distribution rights for “Fighting Fish” across Benelux; Universal Benelux took the DVD and video rights; and SBS Ltd. (SBS Holland) bought TV rights to the film.

Told half in English and half in Cantonese, pic is about a young Hong Kong man who comes to Rotterdam to avenge the death of his brother, only to encounter intrigue and love in Holland’s second largest city. Although the film stars martial arts expert Kim Ho Kim in the lead role and features Bao Xian Fei, two-time world WuShu (kung fu) champion, and martial artist/actor Ron Smoorenburg (Jackie Chan’s “Who Am I?”), helmer Aattache says there are no flying fighters in this pic.

“The fight scenes are real,” as they were in Bruce Lee’s movies, Aattache notes, but he adds the pic is first and foremost a Romeo-and-Juliet story about star-crossed lovers set among the modern skyscrapers of Rotterdam.

Pic also stars Dutch film and legit talent Chantal Janzen (“Full Moon Party”), TV actress Jennifer de Jong and Dutch music TV channel TMF’s VJ star Jeroen Post.

The pic is one of the latest films to receive support from the Rotterdam Film Fund, which over the years has backed films shot in the city to the tune of some $15 million.

The fund has been attractive enough to inspire half a dozen film and TV companies in Holland to move their digs from traditional media sites such as Hilversum and Amsterdam to Rotterdam.

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