'Bullets' women still secret

Jiang film's full male cast revealed, but female leads unknown

BEIJING -- Director Jiang Wen and producer Emperor Motion Pictures revealed the rest of the male cast of "Let The Bullets Fly" ("Rang Zi Dan Fei"), but kept any female cast members under wraps.

Directed by Jiang ("The Sun Also Rises"), the film stars the director along with Hong Kong legend Chow Yun-fat ("Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon") and 1994 Cannes best actor award winner and Chinese boxoffice favorite Ge You ("To Live"). It is the first time all three have worked together, and Ge and Jiang's first on-screen reunion since Zhou Xiaowen's 1996 "The Emperor's Shadow."

Emperor Motion Pictures and Jiang's Buyilehu Films are co-producing the film with a budget of $18 million. The two companies worked on Jiang's previous feature, "The Sun Also Rises." EMP is also handling international sales, including this week at the American Film Market in Santa Monica.

Shooting began last month near Beijing and is slated to wrap by the end of 2009. "Bullets" is scheduled for a fall 2010 release.

The two leads are joined by Chinese actors Chen Kun ("Painted Skin"), Hu Jun ("Red Cliff") and Yao Lu ("One Foot Off The Ground").

Noticeably absent from the dais were any of China's top actresses. Jiang said the film's producers would not yet allow him to talk about female leads, and he dropped no hints.

The film is a Chinese-style Western, featuring Jiang as a bandit chief in Sichuan province in the 1920s. Jiang rides into a small town pretending to be its new mayor, a position he bilked from Ge. However, the town doesn't roll out the red carpet, with the town's wealthiest man, Chow, opposing Jiang.

A short trailer clip showed "Matrix"-like footage of a bullet flying through their air.

"We've waited a long time for Jiang Wen to start work on another popular film, and finally that time has come," said Han Sanping, chairman of China Film Group, at a press event in Beijing Tuesday. Jiang made a cameo in the Han-directed box-office record breaker "The Founding of a Republic."

Jiang said he used Ge and Chow's star power and reputation as actors to lure the other into the project. "I said to Ge You, 'Fat is coming, are you in?' And then I told Chow Yun-fat, 'Ge You's in, are you in?'"

The two took quite a bit of convincing, "I wrote each a letter -- the script -- and sent it to them," Jiang said. "Then I wrote them each a second letter -- a check!"