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Crouching Tiger to spring into Auckland

Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon II: the Green Destiny, prequel to the four-time Oscar-winning 2000 original, will shoot in Auckland later this year.

Of the lead cast from the original title, Michelle Yeoh will return. Last year she was honoured by the Asian Film Awards for Outstanding Contribution to Asian Cinema. Her co-star in Green Destiny will be Donnie Yen, who received the equivalent honour this year.

Cheng Pei-Pei, who appeared in Roseanne Liang’s My Wedding & Other Secrets, also featured in the original Crouching Tiger.

Yeoh is best-known beyond Asia for her turns in Memoirs of a Geisha, Tomorrow Never Dies, The Mummy and Far North. Yen is not well-known outside of Asia, but in recent years has become Chinese cinema’s go-to martial arts actor, best-known for his performances in the two released parts of Wilson Yip’s Ip Man trilogy and Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen.

Green Destiny will be directed by Woo-Ping Yuen, action director on Crouching Tiger and 57 other titles. He’s also the director of 28 films, including 1978’s Drunken Master, one of the titles which helped Jackie Chan establish the comedy kung fu persona he successfully parlayed into success in the US.

Green Destiny was announced at Cannes last year, at which time it had production provisionally commencing in March this year. Reports at the time also noted Zhang Ziyi was in talks to reprise her role of Jen Yu.

Crouching Tiger 2 launch at Cannes

“I make film. You iron jacket.”

The Green Destiny script comes from John Fusco, an Italian American with a kung fu black belt and writer of another Jackie Chan feature, Forbidden Kingdom. As with the original title, the script is developed from the late Du Lu Wang’s Crane Iron series of books.

Green Destiny (also the name of the sword around which much of the plot of Crouching Tiger revolved) is based on the final title in the series, Iron Knight, Silver Vase.

Given Yuen and Yen’s shared love of beating the crap out of people on screen, it’s no surprise that they’ve worked together on previous titles, 13 to date. They are also scheduled to reunite on the final part of the Ip Man trilogy which, like Green Destiny, is scheduled for a 2015 release. Yuen, Yen and Yeoh have worked together once before, making Hong Kong action-comedy Wing Chun in 1994.

Green Destiny is being produced by the Weinstein Company, whose previous foray into China was a mixed experience. Shanghai starred John Cusack, Gong Li and Crouching Tiger lead Chow Yun-Fat. It was released in both English and Chinese language versions. Late in pre-production, the title ran into trouble with mainland censors, and abandoned well over a million dollars’ worth of completed sets as the Weinsteins relocated the shoot to Thailand.

The recently-formed Iron Knight Productions will be the NZ production vehicle. The company’s shareholding is 100% local under the auspices of accountants Pieter Holl. The company’s three directors are all US residents, including Weinstein producers Tom Prince (who’s familiar with NZ from his time on The Lion, The Witch & The Wardrobe) and David Thwaites (Shanghai).

The production will shoot in China for two weeks, but the bulk of the production will come out of Auckland Film Studios.

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