The female action hero was created by The Philippines’ Bobby Suarez (aka George Richardson) and featured in three movies – “They Call Her Cleopatra Wong,” “Dynamite Johnson” and “Devil’s Angels” (aka “Mean Business”) – produced in the late 1970s by BAS Film Productions. Her name is a reference to Blaxploitation character Cleopatra Jones, albeit melded with Bruce Lee action and early James Bond cool. Marrie Lee (aka Doris Young) starred in all three movies.
Tarantino has said that Wong was an inspiration for Uma Thurman’s central character in his “Kill Bill” movies. The “They Call Her…” title was also used for a succession of unrelated exploitation films in the U.S., Europe and The Philippines.
Wong is now being revived by London and Los Angeles-based independent studio The Ink Factory (“The Night Manager”) which has acquired the Cleopatra Wong rights and has teamed up with Singapore-based Beach House Pictures to produce. Fifth Season will handle international rights sales.
The action will be moved to the 21st century and the series be co-written by Chinese-American writer Tasha Huo (Red Sonja, “Tomb Raider” 2023) and Thai-British writer Chris Cornwell (“A Discovery of Witches,” “Strike Back”).
“With its heart and its soul in Southeast Asia, the franchise brings a young female action hero and her companions to the screen in a way that will feel fresh, confident, and authentic,” said Simon Cornwell and Stephen Cornwell, co-founders and co-CEOs of The Ink Factory. “We’re incredibly proud to be helping give Cleopatra her voice in today’s world, creating something that will be true to the roots of the franchise, retaining both its sheer joy and its sense of social mission, but at the same time feeling utterly contemporary and hugely entertaining.”
“We’re confident that our unique blend of East meets West creativity and perspective will bring something truly innovative to Asian and international television audiences,” said BHP co-founders Donovan Chan and Jocelyn Little.
The Ink Factory recently set up an Asia slate and associated financing facility which aims both to deliver adaptations of John le Carré’s work into the major markets of Asia, and to create a global platform for the work of talent and creators from the region. The venture has been established with the support and collaboration of Hong Kong and London-based media investment firm 127 Wall Productions and support from the British Film Institute’s Global Film Screen Fund.
Its current slate includes “The Plotters,” a Korean-language television series adaptation of Kim Un Su’s critically acclaimed novel of the same name, with Soo Hugh (“Pachinko,” “The White Darkness”) attached to create and executive produce. It also contains: a series based on the debut novel of Ghanian-American author Yasmin Angoe – thriller “Her Name is Knight”; an adaptation of C Pam Zhang’s “How Much of These Hills is Gold,” with Anita Gou’s Kindred Spirit; and War Doctor, a feature based on British trauma surgeon David Nott’s memoir of working in conflict zones.