Strand wins ‘Close’ call

Tale of hitwomen sisters directed by Yuen

Strand Releasing has picked up U.S. rights to Hong Kong helmer Cory Yuen’s female assassin actioner “So Close,” from Columbia Pictures Film Production Asia.

Yuen directed and choreographed the high-octane story of two hitwomen sisters out to avenge their father’s death while being hunted by a female cop whose martial arts skills make her a formidable match.

“With their experience, we think that Strand has the ability to really make a film like ‘So Close’ work,” said Sal Ladestro, senior VP of marketing and distribution at Columbia TriStar Film Distributors Intl. “Cory is not only a martial arts wizard but he can also direct a very tender and sexy relationship between three women,” said Strand co-president Marcus Hu.

Scripted by Jeff Lau, the Mandarin-language pic stars Shu Qi (“The Transporter’), Zhao Wei (“Shaolin Soccer”) and Karen Mok (“Fallen Angels”). Chui Po-chu produced through Jet Li’s Hong Kong-based stable The Eastern Film Production Co.

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In addition to directing Li in the “Fong Sai-yuk” martial arts pics, Yuen directed and choreographed the star’s action sequences in “Lethal Weapon 4,” “Romeo Must Die,” “Kiss of the Dragon” and “The One.”

Strand plans to release “So Close” mid-September. Deal was negotiated by Hu with Gary Hirsh on behalf of Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group.

Recent Strand acquisitions include Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato’s club killer drama “Party Monster,” with Macauley Culkin and Seth Green, and German Kai S. Pieck’s “The Child I Never Was.”