Lau's 'Fist' gets second opening slot at Venice

Kung-fu film shown on Bruce Lee's 70th birthday

LOS ANGELES -- Director Andrew Lau’s “Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen” will be the second opening night film at the 67th Venice International Film Festival, Sept. 1-11.

The world premiere starring Donnie Yen, Shu Qi, Anthony Wong and Huang Bo will screen out of competition on Sept. 1 -- what would have been the late Bruce Lee's 70th birthday -- who first brought the hero Chen Zhen to life in “Fist of Fury” in 1972.

Written by Gordon Chan and produced by Media Asia Films of Hong Kong and Beijing-based Enlight Pictures, the film will be distributed internationally by Media Asia.

Unlike the previous film incarnations of the martial arts hero Chen Zhen, including Chan’s 1994 “Fist of Legend,” which starred Jet Li, Lau’s take on the classic kung-fu film adds “an original blend of elements from the spy and super-hero series,” festival organizers, led by director Marco Mueller, said in a statement.

Lau is one of Hong Kong’s best-known directors for titles such as “Initial D,” which was presented at Venice in 2005, and the “Infernal Affairs” trilogy, the basis for the Hollywood remake “The Departed,” which won Martin Scorsese the Best Director Oscar.

“This had to be the greatest trial in my entire career as a cineaste…I strived to break out from the shadow of [this film’s] predecessors by aiming at a genuine breakthrough in the balance of action and drama, in costume and set designs, and in action choreography,” Lau said.

Thought to be dead, the Chen Zhen of Lau and Chan’s imagining is hiding in 1920s Shanghai disguised as an entrepreneur. At the Casablanca nightclub he mingles with British officials, Japanese officers and spies of all stripes as each seeks to tip the balance of power. As Japan prepares to invade, Chen sets out to rescue as many people as he can from their hit list.

The 10 pm “Chen Zhen” premiere at Venice will follow the American director Darren Aronofsky’s “The Black Swan,” showing as a part of the Biennale’s opening ceremony.
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