Stephen Chow Producing New Take on China's 'Odyssey'

'Journey to the West' redux will co-star Shu Qi as a swordswoman absent from earlier versions.

HONG KONG –- Stephen Chow will lead the cast of his new take on the Chinese Odyssey in mid-August in China’s Hengdian studio in Zhejiang province.

The 100 million yuan film ($15 million) is written and produced by Chow and directed by Derek Kwok of Gallants, winner of Best Film at Hong Kong Film Awards 2011. The Hong Kong-listed Bingo Group, of which Chow is a majority shareholder and executive director, takes up the main part of the cost, with co-producing partners China Film Group, Hong Kong’s Edko Films, and South Korea’s CJ Entertainment sharing the bill.

Chow will play a major role in the film, but the comedy auteur, known for his meticulousness in screenwriting and on-set perfectionism, has not decided on which character to play. He will be joined by If You Are the One actress Shu Qi, whose role as a swordswoman is a new addition to the story.

The as-yet-untitled big screen retelling of the Chinese classic Journey to the West story commenced production in mid July in Hengdian, but the principle cast will only begin filming in mid August. The production is taking its time with preliminary blue screen shoots, with director Kwok revealing the slow progress on his recent micro-blog post.

The new CGI-heavy film, a romantic comedy slash actioner, will have no relation to the 1990s two-part Chow classic The Chinese Odyssey, apart from the same source material. Post-production will be handled by 3 Plus Animation Production, whose founder, Ken Law, worked on Chow’s previous effects-laden CJ7 and Shaolin Soccer. Release is tentatively scheduled for summer 2012.