The film is backed by Warner Bros. as part of its local film production incentive and will be released next month in Korea by the studio. In other territories, rights are handled by sales agency Finecut.
The first feature for director Kim Yong-wan, the film portrays the story of Korean adoptee who becomes an arm wrestling champion. While pitched as a comedy, “Champion” also flexes its muscles by also carrying a number of social issues.
Before breaking through in “Train,” Ma (aka Don Lee) has played a numerous supporting roles in films including :Nameless Gangster: Rules of the Time,” and “The Unjust.” He was raised in the U.S. and attended a physical education degree at Columbia State University. Ma counts Sylvester Stallone, who made arm-wrestling film “Over the Top,” among his idols, and takes a co-scripting credit on “Champion.”
Finecut is also handling international sales of “Burning,” the Lee Chang-dong directed drama-thriller that will have its premiere in competition in Cannes. Its lineup also included big-budget Korean animation “Red Shoes and the Seven Dwarfs,” and creature thriller “Monstrum.”