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Andre Morgan, Sammo Hung Ready 'My Kingdom'

1920s Martial Arts Film Set, Shooting in Shanghai

BEIJING -- Hollywood and Hong Kong veterans Andre Morgan and Sammo Hung have begun production in Shanghai on the 1920s martial arts film My Kingdom starring Taiwan-based actor-singer Wu Chun (14 Blades), Taiwan starlet Barbie Hsu (Reign of Assassins) and Chinese pop music sensation Han Geng in his film debut.

Called Da Wu Sheng in Chinese, the tale of two brothers' quest for fame, love and revenge in the heyday of Shanghai opera is a "multi-million dollar" co-production between Hong Kong-based Celestial Pictures and Beijing-based Skyland Films with DW films, Celestial said in a statement on Monday.

Directed by Gao Xiaosong and written by Zou Jingzhi (Riding Alone for Thousands of Miles), My Kingdom is set for release in the second half of 2011.

Los Angeles-based producer Morgan last worked with Celestial on director Peter Chan's award-winning Chinese musical drama, which they followed up with The Warlords, a critical and commercial success and winner of the Best Picture prize at the Hong Kong Film Awards in 2008.

"We are thrilled to be collaborating again with the creative talents of producer Andre Morgan on a movie which blends the best of martial arts action with an intense love story," said Ross Pollack, CEO of Celestial, holder of all rights to the film outside China.

Skyland will handle sales and marketing in China, where 2010 box office is expected to shatter last year's record gross of $909 million.

Brunei-born actor-singer Wu rose to fame in Taiwan as a member of the boy band Fahrenheit, while Han Geng is an original member of South Korean pop group Super Junior. Hsu is well known for her roles in films from John Woo and Benny Chan.

Morgan said My Kingdom had come together after four years of efforts to assemble he script, creative elements, cast and "appropriate financing."

"We are excited to finally bring this very fresh story to Chinese audiences," he said.

Hung, recent winner of a Golden Horse Award in Taiwan for his action choreography of Ip Man 2, will stage and direct the action scenes in My Kingdom. Hung trained the actors for three months to prepare them for intense martial arts sequences.

In November, at the American Film Market in Santa Monica, Celestial, which is owned by Astro All Asia Networks of Malaysia, pre-sold My Kingdom to Golden Scene Cinemas in Malaysia.

Peter Poon, Celestial's svp for theatrical distribution, said the company is close to striking distribution deals in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Indonesia.

Celestial is the operator of global tevision channels and owner of the 760-title Shaw Brothers Film Library of Chinese films.