Lead actors Takeshi Kaneshiro(L1), Andy Lau(L2) and Jet Li(M), director Peter Chan(R2), Andrew Morgan(R1) of Morgan chan Films at the press conference in Beijing, 4th December [photo: CRIENGLISH.COM, Chen Ying]
Casting a whopping US$40 million to make and boasting a star-studded cast with Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro, war epic "Ci Ma" has drawn wide attention before shooting has even started.
The film, directed by this year's Golden Horse award winner Peter Chan, held a grand press conference on Monday in Beijing to announce the beginning of the shoot.
The mega-production is an international joint project made possible by China Film Group, Media Asia Films, Morgan Chan Films and Warner China Film HG.
"Ci Ma" is adapted from one of the most sensational crime cases from the Qing Dynasty, "The Assassination of Ma." Using the backdrop of the assassination of famed general Ma Xinyi during the inauguration of his regional governorship, the heroic tale of three blood brothers unfolds, centring on their personal and collective struggles amidst war and political upheavals.
It is the first war epic genre that director Peter Chan has ever tackled.
The story had been shot by martial arts film master Zhang Che several years ago and is widely recognized as his signature movie. When asked about this new version, Peter Chan emphasized it is not a remake of classic.
"Actually I don't think it is a remake of director Zhang Che's movie. The story of 'The Assassination of Ma' has several versions. I respect director Zhang Che very much. What I intend to do is to express friendships, betrayal and humanity in the set of that specific backdrop."
It is also the first time that the three acting superstars have cooperated on a movie.
Earlier, Jet Li had announced that he would not appear in any kung fu movies after the movie "Huo Yuan Jia."
The star revealed the anti-war theme of the movie was the important reason to attract him to join.
He said, "I think it is very interesting that a director asked me to act in a film without no kungfu. Many of my consultants have said Peter Chan is a genius. Also, the character of my role as a bad bandit is totally different from my former good guy roles. I think it's really challenging, so I signed up."
All that is missing is a lead actress, who was not announced at the press conference. The director denied all the candidates assumed by media. He said it was very difficult to choose an actress because she was too important for the relationships with the three male leads.
The movie will take four months to shoot in Beijing, Shanghai and Hengdian. It is scheduled to be released at the end of next year.
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