Shu Qi, Chang Chen Join Hou Hsiao-hsien’s Movie ‘Assassin’

Cannes-winning director Hou Hsiao-hsien’s new kung fu movie will be a US$12 million (€8.5 million) production about an ancient Tang dynasty woman who’s adopted and trained by nuns as a political assassin, an investor in the film said Tuesday.

Taiwanese actress Shu Qi will play the female assassin, Huang Hsin-yi, a publicist at SinoMovie, one of the investors in the film “Assassin,” told The Associated Press on Tuesday. Hou has also cast Taiwanese actor Chang Chen, who starred in the Oscar-winning “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” in an undetermined role and is considering approaching Japanese actor Tadanobu Asano, Huang said.

Huang said it wasn’t clear when and where the movie will start shooting. No other details about the film have been released.

The US$12 million budget makes “Assassin” a big production by Chinese standards and marks a departure from the art-house movies set in his native Taiwan that Hou’s known for.

Besides Taiwan’s SinoMovie, Huang said the Taiwan branch of Hollywood studio Fox is also investing in the movie and the Chinese news Web site reported Tuesday that Hou is also raising funds at the ongoing Pusan International Film Festival in South Korea.

Hou’s past productions have been explorations of Taiwanese culture. The director has shot movies about a local puppeteer (“The Puppetmaster”), southern Taiwan’s gang culture (“Goodbye South, Goodbye”) and government oppression (“City of Sadness”).

“The Puppetmaster” won the jury prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 1993 and “City of Sadness” won the top Golden Lion prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1989.

Hou’s most recent movie is the French-Taiwanese co-production “The Flight of the Red Balloon,” starring Juliette Binoche. The movie is about a single mother who hires a Taiwanese student to take care of her son.

Hou and Shu are frequent collaborators, working together on “Millennium Mambo” and “Three Times,” which won Shu best actress honors at Taiwan’s Golden Horse Awards, the Chinese-language equivalent of Oscars, in 2005.

“Three Times,” about three love affairs in three different eras, also co-stars Chang Chen.

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