Shanghai Film Fest: John Cusack, Adrien Brody to Star in Jackie Chan's 'Dragon Blade'

Jackie Chan TIFF arrivals - P 2013
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Jackie Chan TIFF arrivals - P 2013

The $65 million historical action movie is the most expensive Chinese-language film ever to go into production.

John Cusack and Adrien Brody will star as Roman soldiers lost in ancient times in Hong Kong action star Jackie Chan’s latest project, the historical epic Dragon Blade.

The movie has finished shooting at Hengdian World Studios and will soon start shooting on location in the historic city of Dunhuang and the Gobi Desert, Chan said at the Shanghai International Film Festival.

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Directed by Daniel Lee, Dragon Blade is inspired by a missing legion of Roman soldiers that traveled into China in 48 B.C.

“I'm really excited to be in a movie with two of the most respected actors working today,” said Chan. “It gives me confidence that the decade we spent researching and developing the script has produced something of a world-class standard.”

The cast also includes South Korea's Choi Si-won, member of the K-pop band Super Junior, who has previously appeared in A Battle of Wits.

Cusack will play Lucius, a Roman general who led a legion of 1,000 soldiers into Han Dynasty China. Brody will play Tiberius, who assassinated Rome's Consul Crassus and chased after Lucius with a force of 100,000 soldiers. Chan stars as the Commander of the Protectorate of the Western Regions, who teams up with Lucius to protect China's borders and sovereignty.

“It is a dream to finally work with Jackie. Aside from my longtime appreciation for his many talents, he is a beacon of generosity, and an inspiration to me,” said Brody. “Dragon Blade is a tale of mythical proportions -- of good prevailing over evil -- and an opportunity for me to explore a character whose ambition challenges his honor."

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Dragon Blade is backed by Sparkle Roll Media Corporation, Huayi Brothers Media, Shanghai Film Group, Home Media & Entertainment Fund, Tencent Video and Beijing Cultural Assets Chinese Film and Television Fund.

It is the first film to receive financing from the newly formed Beijing Cultural Assets Chinese Film & Television Fund, a giant fund made up of some of the biggest players in the state-owned media sector, including the Cultural Assets Supervision and Administration Office of the Beijing Municipality People's Government.

It also includes CITIC Asset Management Corporation, a leading state-run financial institution.

Chan plays a military leader, Huo An, and the project was inspired by the documented evidence of Roman descendants and Roman ruins in Liqian village in Northwest China's Gansu province during the Han Dynasty.

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"China is the future of world cinema," Cusack said. "Having an opportunity to work with such film talents as Jackie Chan, Huayi Brothers, Daniel Lee and Susanna Tsang is a great privilege. I grew up watching Jackie Chan films and stood in awe of his talent, energy and spirit. This will be a great adventure for me."

World sales are handled by Golden Network Asia and the movie has closed deals to Taiwan (Long Shong), South Korea (Joy N Contents), Singapore (Encore), Thailand (Mono Film), Indonesia (Prima Cinema), Middle East (Gulf Film), (GSC Movies) for Malaysia, Brunei, Myanmar, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia.

Dragon Blade is scheduled for global release in 3D IMAX in China, and in international markets, on the Chinese Lunar New Year’s Day (Feb. 19) next year. The holiday is a major moviegoing day in the country. 

After completing the shoot of Dragon Blade, Chan next stars in English-language action comedy Skiptrace before taking the lead role in Chinese Zodiac II, the sequel to his 2012 blockbuster.