China comfortable in its own 'Skin'


SINGAPORE -- "Skin Lover," a chilling story from a classic Chinese text, will be the first made-in-China fantasy horror film officially approved by the Chinese State Administration of Radio, Film and Television for production.

Singapore-based MediaCorp. Raintree Pictures CEO Daniel Yun said Thursday that the film's plot comes from "The Painted Skin," part of "Strange Tales of Liaozhai," written by Pu Songling in the 17th century.

The $15 million film, which begins production Friday in Hengdian, is directed by Gordon Chan and co-produced by Ningxia Film Studio (China), Salon Film (Hong Kong), MediaCorp. and Beijing Century Jiaying Central Development (China).

Set for release in late 2008, the film centers on a married man (Chen Kun) who falls for the irresistible appearance of a woman (Zhou Xun), not knowing she's a vixen spirit and that her appearance is actually the result of a piece of beautifully painted skin. The cast also includes Vicky Zhao Wei, Sun Li, Donnie Yen and Qi Yuwu.

Bill Liu ("The Twins Effect") is the art director. The action will be handled by Tung Wei ("Seven Swords").

"This film is very important to us because this is our first direct co-production with the Chinese, something we'd been trying to do for a long time," Yun said.

He added that 20%-30% of the film will use digital effects. "With all the new technology and so many big epic movies released in recent years, it is important that this film comes across as an updated adaptation of the tale," he said.

Ghosts feature prominently in Chinese literature but have been banned from the big screen in China for more than 30 years because state censors have until now disallowed superstitious or supernatural content in film. Even the ghost story "The Matrimony," released this year, had a plot twist in the end in order to distance the film's supernatural story from the audience.