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John Woo’s 1989 Hong Kong classic “The Killer” will be remade in Los Angeles with a Korean star replacing Chow Yun-Fat as the hard-boiled hit man.
Director John H. Lee, a Korean-American and a CAA client, will move the action through Los Angeles’ Koreatown, Chinatown and South Central, said Terence Chang, Woo’s longtime producer and partner at Lion Rock Prods.
“The actor has to be Korean in this version, but also L.A. is a character in the film,” Chang said in an interview on the opening day of the four-day Asian Film Market.
“In John’s original version, it doesn’t really matter where the film is set, except that Hong Kong has this dragon boat festival which adds a bit of local flavor,” he said. “In this remake, we will use the geography of L.A. to move the story forward.”
Lee told The Hollywood Reporter that he is excited about working on the remake of one of his “favorite films of all time.”
“I ask myself why they chose me and whether I can top it,” Lee said Monday from Seoul. “But then I realize it’s not about making it better; it’s about making my own version. My strength is dealing with human emotions, austerity and elegance.”
Chung Taewon, president of Korea’s Taewon Entertainment, said his company also is involved in the project.
Taewon Entertainment is majority-owned by Fireworks International, a Hong Kong-based media company, initially funded by Dutch Bank ABN AMRO.
Chang said a script is being worked on but noted that it is too early to reveal other details.
Lee, also at the Pusan International Film Festival here, directed “A Moment to Remember” in 2004, the most popular Korean movie ever in Japan, where it earned about $26 million.
The remake of “The Killer” will be the latest in a string of Asian films to cross the Pacific to Hollywood. “The Departed,” a remake of Hong Kong gangster film “Infernal Affairs,” won the best picture Academy Award this year, and its helmer Martin Scorsese picked up the best director Oscar.
Mark Russell contributed to this report.
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