HONG KONG — The king of kung fu cinema is set to star in a new movie about China's famed shrine of martial arts, the Shaolin Temple.
Jackie Chan will star in the $29 million production, "Shaolin," the latest screen portrayal of the 1,500-year old temple in central China whose famous fighting monks have featured in films by stars such as Bruce Lee and Jet Li, and in the 1970s TV series "Kung Fu" with David Carradine.
Chan's Chinese-language film will co-star veteran Hong Kong actor Andy Lau, actor-singer Nicholas Tse and Chinese actress Fan Bingbing.
The production, said to boast 1,000 real fighting monks and a grand scene in which the temple burns down, will start shooting later this year for release in late 2010. It was announced in a joint statement Thursday by four Chinese film studios: the state-run China Film Group Corp., Emperor Motion Pictures, Huayi Brothers Media Corp. and Beijing Silver Moon Productions Ltd.
Hong Kong filmmaker Benny Chan, who worked with Chan on "New Police Story" and "Rob-B-Hood," will direct and Cory Yuen will serve as action co-ordinator. Yuen's credits include "Lethal Weapon 4" and "X-Men."
"Shaolin" will be an updated version of a 1982 movie, "The Shaolin Temple," in which former Chinese kung fu champion Li made his screen debut, playing a boy adopted and trained by Shaolin monks who seeks to avenge the death of his father.
The new project could draw more heat for Shaolin Temple abbot Shi Yongxin, who has been accused of high living and seeking publicity for the famed shrine in the Songshan Mountains of central Henan province. He has also faced criticism for upgrading facilities at the once-austere temple.
Shi has agressively promoted the Shaolin brand, and has threatened to sue companies that use the temple's name or image without permission, but the abbot is clearly on board for Chan's project.
"It's worth cheering that we are now working with the most outstanding production team," Shi was quoted as saying in the statement Thursday.
Chan has most recently been shooting a remake of "The Karate Kid" in China with Will Smith's son, Jaden.