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John Woo To Shoot World War II Airborne Actioner 'Flying Tigers' In English

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood April 23, 2013 at 12:27PM

John Woo and producer Terence Chang have long harbored the desire to shoot "Flying Tigers," an ambitious period actioner set in World War II. They have finally successfully raised the financing to take this big-budget epic airborne.
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Standing:Terence Chang (Lion Rock Productions), John Woo, Charlie Coker (Cyrte Investments), Han Sanping (head of China Film Group), Miao Xiaotian (VP of China Film Co., Ltd.). Seated: Frank Botman (CEO of Cyrte Investments) and Zhao Haicheng (Director & VP of China Film Co.)
Standing:Terence Chang (Lion Rock Productions), John Woo, Charlie Coker (Cyrte Investments), Han Sanping (head of China Film Group), Miao Xiaotian (VP of China Film Co., Ltd.). Seated: Frank Botman (CEO of Cyrte Investments) and Zhao Haicheng (Director & VP of China Film Co.)

John Woo and producer Terence Chang have long harbored the desire to shoot "Flying Tigers," an ambitious period actioner set in World War II. They have finally successfully raised the financing to take this big-budget epic airborne. Woo is one of the rare successful Hong Kong directors to take his action prowess to Hollywood on such films as "Face-Off" and "Mission: Impossible II" and has more recently lured significant funds in Asia to support such epics as the $80-million "Red Cliff," which made its money back in Asia but did not score stateside. "Flying Tigers" will be shot in English. (Today's LAT covers China's burgeoning entertainment industry.)

Dutch-based Cyrte Investments and China Film Co., Ltd., the biggest film development, production and distribution company in China, will collaborate on a two-part feature film to open in China and a six-part TV drama mini-series to be sold globally. "Flying Tigers" is about a group of American pilots who volunteered to fight under the Chinese flag alongside their Chinese counterparts during WWII. It's a movie about international cooperation and the brotherhood of warriors.

The announcement was made Monday during the Beijing International Film Festival at a signing ceremony attended by Cyrte CEO Frank Botman, CFG Chairman Han Sanping and John Woo (pictured).

“Flying Tigers" is a project "that I have always wanted to do," said Woo, "because this is a story that expresses the courage, resourcefulness, friendship, and spirit of both the Chinese and American people and pilots.  It promotes friendship between the two nations." 

Woo and his long-time Lion Rock producing partner Chang will produce the films and TV miniseries which is expected to begin principal photography in early 2014.

When I visited China last summer I not only got a tour of the huge $2 billion spanking new China Film Group studio lot outside of Beijing, which boasts state-of-the-art equipment and 16 soundstages, where I met with Terence Chang and Zhao Haicheng, director and VP of the China Film Co., but I also checked out the Hump Hostel in Kunming, Yunnan where the real Flying Tigers were based, using that location to fly over the hump of the mountains on their missions against Japan. The official synopsis is below.

This article is related to: IN THE WORKS, John Woo


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.