Asia putting in a call for heroes

Aim to battle Hollywood's genre dominance

More Pusan festival coverage

BUSAN, South Korea -- Asian filmmakers are looking for a superhero -- or a few of them -- who can battle into the international marketplace and cut into Hollywood's boxoffice dominance of the genre.

South Korean producer Lee Eugene is in Pusan shooting her current project "Jeon Woo Chi," which she calls "the most anticipated project in Korea."

Presented at the Asian Film Market's project market, PPP, which wrapped Monday, the film drew great interest from buyers, particularly Japan, according to Lee, president of production shingle Zip Cinema.

The $12 million film has three quarters of its budget in place and is presented by Korean major CJ Entertainment and United Pictures International.

Currently in its 14th day of shooting in Busan, the up to four month production will be one of Korea's longest, with location shooting all over the country. The film makes extensive use of wire-action and homegrown CGI in its tale of a Taoist magician, the title character "Jeon," traveling 500 years forward to present day Korea to take on a host of evil goblins.

Coinciding with the shoot, this year's Pusan International Film Festival honed in on the re-emerging trend with its special section: Superheroes in Asia, showcasing 11 features from across the region spanning 50 years.

Among films screened at PIFF this year were the 2006 hit "Krrish," India's first major superhero movie, Malaysia's "Cicakman 2 -- Planet Hitam" (2008), a superhero comedy sequel to the popular 2006 film, and Thailand's reworking of Hollywood's "Spider-Man" hero, "Mercury Man" from 2006.

Asked how the Korean superhero would stand up against Western archetypes, Lee said, "It's going to be very different from a Hollywood clear-cut 'good' superhero. Jeon Woo Chi is a rascal and quite mischievous." The project will be taken to the upcoming American Film Market, which begins Nov. 5. A release date is targeted for summer 2009.

It stars Korean wave heartthrob Gang Don-won ("M") in the title role along with Lim Soo-jung ("Happiness"), and Kim Yun-seok ("The Chaser"). The director is Choi Dong-hoon, known as the Tarantino of the local film industry with his high stakes thrillers, "The Big Swindle" (2004) and "Tazza: The High Rollers" (2006).
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