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Martial-arts maestro Jet Li has closed a deal to join Vin Diesel in xXx 3: The Return of Xander Cage, Revolution Studios’ reboot of the early 2000s action spy franchise.
Diesel is leading a cast that includes Vampire Diaries’ Nina Dobrev, Bollywood star Deepika Padukone and Orange Is the New Black breakout Ruby Rose as well as Samuel L. Jackson.
Plot details are being kept redacted, but just as Diesel found renewed success when Fast & Furious was rejigged as an action ensemble, xXx, too, is being reconfigured to surround the action star with a team of toughs and wiseacres.
According to sources, Li will play the leader of his own team and will square off against Diesel. Whether he is the ultimate villain of the pic remains to be seen.
“xXx 3: The Return of Xander Cage is one of the jewels in Revolution Studio’s library, and we’re giving the devoted fans more of what they want by expanding the franchise and introducing new and extreme action characters like Jet Li’s,” said Revolution CEO Vince Totino.
Added Revolution COO Scott Hemming: “We are extremely excited to have Jet Li join the cast of xXx 3: The Return of Xander Cage as Raif, who is pitted against Vin Diesel’s Xander Cage, and watch these two in action as they raise the bar with some of the most incredible stunts on film.”
xXx 3 has a script by F. Scott Frazier, and D.J. Caruso will direct the pic, which is set to begin shooting in February in Toronto and the Dominican Republic.
Li’s involvement, along with several other action mainstays, surfaced several weeks ago, but it’s only now that the tricky negotiations closed, according to sources. Some actors rumored for the movie, such as Jennifer Lopez, did not pan out either due to scheduling or dealmaking.
Joe Roth is producing the movie with his new partner, Jeff Kirschenbaum, along with Diesel and his producing partner, Samantha Vincent, who is also his sister. Totino and Hemming of Revolution, which was rebooted two years when it was bought by hedge fund Fortress, are shepherding actor and distributor deals for the film.
And while no distribution deal is set, Paramount remains the likely home for the pic.
xXx 3 will be Li’s first movie since appearing in 2014’s The Expendables 3. He is repped by Current Entertainment and Bloom Hergott.
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