Korean producer hopes for hit film

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Korean producer hopes for hit film

Lee Joo-ick, the president of Boram Pictures, said he has never felt so excited as the last time he was in Melbourne, Australia.
Mr. Lee, 49, was in the city earlier this month to watch the last filming session for a martial arts movie he is producing. The film, called “Seven Swords,” which is based on a famous Chinese novel, is the first film venture produced jointly by Korea, China and Hong Kong.
The movie, in which he invested $15 million, will be presented at the Venice Film Festival in August.
This isn’t the first time that Mr. Lee has helped to produce an international film. In 2002, he was involved in the production of a Chinese film called “Together” with Chen Kaige, the Chinese director.
But he said “Seven Swords” is special. One reason is that it was invited to be the opening film of the Venice Film Festival. In addition, it is the first film that three countries have produced jointly to target an international audience.
The film has shown early signs of being a hit. Distributors in a number of countries have said they will import the film, and Mr. Lee said he has already recouped his production costs.
However, no distributor in the United States, the biggest film market, has decided to buy the film so far. He said they are probably waiting to see the response at the Venice festival before making a decision.
In viewing the final filming session, Mr. Lee said he felt his heart pound as top movie stars from China started reading the dialogue in Korean.
The stars include Hong Kong heartthrobs Leon Lai, Donnie Yen and Charlie Yeung, while Kim So-yeon, a Korean actress, has the leading female role.
The movie is set in China during the Ching Dynasty, in which seven martial arts experts try to save the population. Ms. Kim plays a mournful noblewoman from Korea’s Joseon Dynasty who later becomes a slave in China.
Mr. Lee said he felt his heart pound again when Tsui Hark, a Hong Kong director, praised Ms. Kim for the energy she showed throughout the film.
“Tsui Hark is a high-profile figure in martial arts films,” Mr. Lee said. “He is going to prove what real sword fighting is all about.”
He said the action scenes would have a “different feel” from those of other Chinese directors, such as Zhang Yimou or Ang Lee, who directed the award-winning films “Hero” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” respectively.
“A jointly produced film is not a choice but an essential part of making a successful movie,” Mr. Lee said. “There’s no reason to be afraid of Hollywood now.”

by Park Jeong-ho
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