Korean, Japanese stars power 'Hero'

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TOKYO -- Two of Asia's biggest male stars will be shoulder-to-shoulder on the set of "Hero" now that South Korean star Lee Byung Hun has signed up to appear alongside Takuya Kimura in the theatrical version of the Fuji Televison Network hit.

"Hero," produced by Fuji's film arm, grew out of a hugely popular miniseries about an unconventional public prosecutor played by Kimura. The show was a ratings monster, earning a 34.3% audience share when it first aired in 2001. A two-hour special in 2006 was equally well received.

Fuji is clearly attempting to spread the appeal of the title to other Asian nations and has guaranteed impressive sales in South Korea by setting the story in both countries and casting local hero Lee as a public prosecutor in the port city of Pusan.

Filming is currently under way with Masayuki Suzuki at the helm. The title will be released in September.

"Since we were set on shooting part of the film on location in South Korea, we felt it was important that we cast opposite Kimura a South Korean actor with a commanding presence and charisma," a Fuji TV spokesman said. "With Lee as a South Korean counterpart to Kimura's public prosecutor character, we're significantly boosting the scale and profile of the film in both countries due to Lee's immense popularity in both nations."

Fuji is gauging interest from overseas markets for the distribution rights to the title, Fuji's Minako Mita said.
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