Hong Kong Star Josie Ho Teaming With Luc Besson on Two Action Films (Exclusive)

Josie Ho and Luc Besson
852 Films; Getty Images

The projects will be Besson’s first since he stepped down as CEO at EuropaCorp.

Hong Kong actress/producer Josie Ho is set to collaborate with French director Luc Besson and American History X helmer Tony Kaye through the Hong Kong-based 852 Films, the production company she had founded with husband Conroy Chan in 2009.

Ho will star in the entire slate, she and Chan will also take up producer duties for the films.

852 Films will participate in the financing, producing, and filming and Ho will be the lead actress in two separate new projects by Besson. Both are action films, predominantly in English, and the first will start filming at the end of 2021.

The projects will be Besson’s first since he stepped down as CEO at EuropaCorp, the studio he had founded and overseen for almost 30 years, as well as the follow-up to action-thriller Anna in 2019. His last foray into Asia was to work with Michelle Yeoh on The Lady (2011), the Aung San Suu Kyi biopic.

It was Yeoh who indirectly set in motion these two collaborations when she introduced Ho to Besson in Hong Kong almost a decade ago. Years later, when Besson was in town on business, he offered her the lead role in his new as-yet-untitled action film.

"We had a great time discussing the project and decided to work together on one more film," Ho told The Hollywood Reporter. "Luc very generously asked me for an idea and agreed to develop it with me."

852 Films will be a partner in the second film.

In addition to the Besson projects, Ho will also take the leading role in a musical feature to be directed by Tony Kaye, famed for his work with music greats including Johnny Cash, Roger Waters, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The musical, to be filmed in Hong Kong, will unite two sides of Ho’s performing talents. She first came on the Hong Kong entertainment scene as a pop singer in the 1990s, and has since established her rock credentials as the frontwoman of Hong Kong rock group Josie and the Uni Boys, which has a cult following.

"Tony is now creating a gigantic model for the film, and is considering featuring the ‘Hong Kong sound’ and local music scene, but we’re still in discussion," Ho said.

Next, Ho is teaming up with novelist and scriptwriter Bruce Wagner (Map to the Stars) on his film Marvel Universe (no relations to the comics), scheduled for production later in 2020.

Ho has taken a series of low key roles in Hollywood films over the years, including playing a patient who dies from the deadly virus in Steven Soderbergh’s Contagion, a pushy gallery owner in Roger Avary’s A Lucky Day, and a mute in horror flick Open Grave opposite Sharlto Copley.

She has stepped up on investment and involvement in Hollywood co-productions through 852 Films since 2019, when she and Chan co-produced with Margate House Films Rajah, based on the true story of legendary Sir James Brooke, who inspired Joseph Conrad's Lord Jim and Rudyard Kipling's The Man Who Would Be King. She starred opposite Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Dominic Monaghan in the Michael Haussman-directed film, which finished filming in Borneo last October.

Before the pandemic hit, she has just wrapped Habit, which starred Bella Thorne as a party girl on the run disguised as a nun, alongside The Kills’ Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart, as well as Bush’s lead singer Gavin Rossdale. The film was produced by Ho and Chan with Donovan Leitch, Martingale Pictures, Voltage Pictures, Cloudlight & Elevated Film.