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John Woo’s ‘Red Cliff’ to open Tokyo fest

Red Cliff
‘Red Cliff’ will kick off the Tokyo International Film Festival on October 18

TOKYO (TR) – Organizers for the 21st Tokyo International Film Festival announced yesterday that Hong Kong director John Woo’s “Red Cliff” will kick off the event on October 18.

The period epic, which tells the story of Chinese clans battling on the Yangtze River at the small town of Red Cliff near the end of the third century, is Woo’s first Chinese film since 1992’s “Hard-Boiled.” The director has in recent years focused on such Hollywood films as “Mission Impossible: II” and “Paycheck,” a picture based on a novel by science fiction writer Philip K. Dick.

“Director John Woo was attracted to this story for more than 20 years,” said a press release from the festival committee. “But back then, neither the technology nor the market could support a film of this scale and magnitude. The opportunity came in the summer of 2004, when Woo’s producer Terence Chang went to Beijing for the first time, and started putting the financing and production plan together.”

The film will be released in Asia as two versions with a total running time of more than four hours. “The Battle of Red Cliff” will follow in January. Western audiences will see only a two-and-a-half-hour version in theaters early next year.

The film, whose budget of 80 million dollars makes it the most expensive Asian film in history, included a crew and cast of roughly 2,000.

Included among the extensive cast are Tony Leung (“Lust, Caution”), Takeshi Kaneshiro (“Chungking Express”), Shido Nakamura (“Death Note”), and model Lin Chi Ling.

In China, the film earned a record-high 27 million yuan (3.9 million dollars) on its opening day in July, breaking the previous record held by “Transformers,” which raked in 22.4 million yuan (3.3 million dollars) upon its opening in July last year.

The week-long festival, which will take place in Tokyo’s Shibuya and Roppongi districts and this year feature an environmental theme, annually selects films for the Grand Prix and Special Jury Award and chooses a best director, actor, and actress.

“Red Cliff” opens in Japan in November.