Lau, Q make history in epic ‘Kingdoms’ co-prod

Budget approachs $25 mil

PUSAN — Andy Lau and rising Asian-American thesp Maggie Q (“Mission: Impossible 3”) will star in “Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon,” a big-budget historical actioner being put together as a pan-Asian co-production.

Lau, who is honored this week as Asian Filmmaker of the Year, and Q, currently filming “Live Free or Die Hard” opposite Bruce Willis in Canada, will present “Kingdoms” to media in Pusan Sunday.

Daniel Lee (“Dragon Squad,” “One Armed Swordsman”) will direct with Sammo Hung “(Martial Law”) on board as action choreographer.

With a budget approaching $25 million, pic is set up by Hong Kong’s Visualizer Film and Korea’s Taewon Entertainment and will shoot in China from March 2007.

International sales in Asia (excluding Korea) will be handled by Winnie Tsang’s Hong Kong distribber Golden Scene, while Taewon will keep Korean rights for itself. Taewon is also currently arranging a beauty parade of major sales agents and studio labels for remaining international rights.

Visualizer has brought on board SIL-Metropole Organization as Chinese partner. Move will facilitate shoot in China and ensure that pic qualifies automatically for mainland China release.

Project is based on “Romance of the Three Kingdoms” a vast 600-year-old novel by Luo Guangzhong that ranks as one of China’s four most important pieces of literature, and also provided source material for John Woo’s upcoming “Battle of Red Cliff.”

Lee, who also penned the screenplay, takes the unusual position of basing his story on Zhao Zilong, usually considered a minor character, while adding in new characters. “Our intention is to capture the hearts and minds of older generations, but also to address younger audiences familiar with the ‘Three Kingdoms’ stories through the Koei videogames,” Visualizer prexy Susanna Tsang said.

“We are making a world movie, and for some scenes will use 40,000 extras, twice that of ‘Lord of the Rings,’ ” said Taewon principal Chung Taewon, who handled the “Rings” trilogy in Korea. Taewon’s previous ventures into this territory include 1999 Chinese-Korean co-prod “Bichunmoo,” made with Shanghai Film Group, and last year’s “The Shadowless Sword,” produced with New Line Entertainment.

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