Monday, December 20, 2004

Pangs for Hollywood

The Hong Kong-born, Thailand-based twin-brother directing team of Danny and Oxide Pang are headed for Hollywood. They have been signed by producer-director Sam Raimi to direct Scarecrow, which starts production in 2005.

At the same time, The Eye, the film that elevated the Pangs to worldwide cult status, has been bought by Tom Cruise, who is doing a remake.

Nothing new about the Cruise development and The Scarecrow. But it's all part of a story by Agence France Presse that trumpets Hollywood's continuing infatuation with all things Asian.

The focus of the story is that Hollywood is looking to Asia for other things besides kung-fu and action films, citing recent remakes of Ringu (The Ring) and Japan's Shall We Dance.

Of course action and martial arts remain a big staple, and the story mentions Thailand's Tony Jaa and Ong-Bak, saying "perhaps the hottest new Asian talent to emerge in 2004 was Thailand's Tony Jaa, billed as a successor to the legacy of Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan for his amazing dexterity and daredevil stunts during fight scenes.

"He sprang to prominence in Ong Bak, which proved a huge hit in Thailand, and also drew audiences around Asia and in France, where it was distributed by Luc Besson's EuropaCorp.

AFP appears to still be outside the loop on Tony's big-budget followup, Tom Yum Goong, due out next year.

The story mentions the taut HK police drama, Infernal Affairs, which will be remade by Martin Scorcese as The Departed, with Matt Damon and Leonardo DiCaprio taking the roles played by Andy Lau and Tony Leung in the original. It will be reset in Boston.

Wong Kar-wai will start shooting next year on The Lady from Shanghai, starring Nicole Kidman.

The story also mentioned Wong's 2046, which due out sometime soon I hope in Thailand. A lawsuit by Thai pop star Bird has held up the Thai release of the film. Filmed in Bangkok, scenes involving Bird ended up on the cutting room floor. Perhaps his scenes could be included on a DVD? Come on, let us see it.

The story mentioned Clean, due to screen at the Bangkok International Film Festival. It stars Wong's "longtime cinematic muse", Maggie Cheung, who portrays a junkie rock star in the film directed by her ex-husband, Olivier Assayas.

South Korean director Kang Je-gyu, whose Korean War epic Taegukgi: The Brotherhood of War (now playing in Bangkok), told AFP: "I don't want to limit myself to making films just for Koreans." The film has been widely reviewed by the US press.

Oh, and Park Chan-Wook's Old Boy, is also being remade by Hollywood. Nicolas Cage said during a visit to Seoul that he was keen to play the lead role.

Animator Hayao Miyazaki also appears set to conquer new frontiers in 2005 with his latest fantasy, Howl's Moving Castle, which broke box office records on its debut in Japan in November and will be released in 50 countries this year.

(Cross-published at Rotten Tomatoes)

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