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.
The epic action drama tells the legendary story of the Flying Tigers, a heroic band of American pilots who volunteered to join the Chinese Air Force and fight Japanese aggression at the onset of World War II. Known as the “Flying Tigers” due to the iconic shark’s teeth painted on their fighter planes, the team played an integral role in holding the line against imperial Japan in the early days of the war. Although outnumbered and often ill-equipped, the Flying Tigers valiantly staved off numerous Japanese attacks in China and Southeast Asia. Flying Tigers is a compelling story of international friendship and heroism between American and Chinese servicemen who perilously fought side-by-side in a time of need.