'Warriors' ready to take China by storm

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BANGKOK -- "The Storm Warriors" has become one of the first China/Hong Kong co-productions to obtain a Chinese production permit since the unofficial tightening of censorship guidelines in early March.

China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television approved the permit last week after a three-month wait, Universe Films CEO and managing director Daneil Lam told the Hollywood Reporter on Monday.

Although the filming will take place entirely in Thailand, a production permit from China is required due to its co-production status, which will secure a local Chinese release. Principal photography on the $12 million comic book adaptation began in Bangkok's Pak Gret studio Monday.

The film is solely financed by Hong Kong-based Universe and co-produced with China's Sil-Metropole Organization.

"The permit approval process is stricter," said Lam, who also is the film's executive producer. "Before, we only had to provide a synopsis, now SARFT requested we submit the full script for approval." The broadcasting governing body has cautioned the filmmakers to limit the violence and gore of the film, Lam added.

"The Storm Warriors" changed its title from "The Stormriders II" to coincide with the start of production. It is adapted from the same popular 1990s comic book series that has spawned the record-breaking 1998 boxoffice hit and retains the two original leads, Ekin Cheng and Aaron Kwok.

"Some potential North American and European buyers asked us if it's necessary to see the first film to get this one, since the answer is no, we've decided to change the name," Universe COO Alvin Lam said.

Distribution rights have been sold to Golden Harvest in Hong Kong and Chengtian Entertainment and Golden Harvest in China. It is scheduled for release in late 2009.
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