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Asia-AICN: King Gidorah; Spirited Away; The Reflection; Without You; Godzilla; The Stranger; TMNT; and Tsui Hark's next

Father Geek along with Darius25, pigmon, and AccSpy here to present you with the next installment of our regular Asia-AICN Thursday column, but First the total text of this "official" notice concerning John Woo's Turtle Project that was received here at Geek World Headquaters in Austin, Texas...


Beverly Hills, CA, - Mirage Studios, Inc., intellectual property rights holder to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, an international film and television franchise accounting for some four billion dollars in toy, licensed merchandise, film and television programming revenue and Digital Rim Entertainment principals John Woo and Terence Chang, will jointly develop and produce a full-length CGI-animated feature film for worldwide theatrical release based on the Turtles property.

The Turtles were co-created in 1984 by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, owner of Mirage Licensing, Inc., which represents Mirage Studios, Inc. No decision has been made yet whether Digital Rim will produce the estimated $40-60 million picture independently or in cooperation with a major studio and no distributor has been set.

Collaborating on the development and production of the as yet untitled film are Woo & Chang's Lion Rock Productions, Laird's Mirage Studios, Phoenix-based videogame and TV production company Rainbow Studios and J. G. Lee's Digital Dream Studios (DDS) of Seoul, South Korea. The picture will be developed by Laird, Woo, Chang and Digital Rim President Earl Jarred with the actual animation production produced by Rainbow and DDS.

This marks Peter Laird and John Woo's first creative collaboration. Noted Woo, "I've always loved the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It's one of the greatest action-adventure properties ever." Added Chang, "Truthfully, we fell in love with the pilot film produced by Mirage and our partner Rainbow Studios."

"John and I," continued Chang, "look forward to working with Peter (Laird) to incorporate these original extreme martial arts characters into a terrific first CGI film for Digital Rim, fusing traditional Hollywood creative know-how with highly advanced computer technology."

Laird stated, "I'm very excited about returning TMNT to their darker, edgier, comic book roots through this collaboration with Digital Rim. After a hiatus of some years, I've thrown myself creatively back into the property and I'm having a blast!"

Gary Richardson, CEO of Mirage said, "We've just completed a pilot for a new Turtles television series, working with Earl Jarred, President of Rainbow and his amazingly talented staff. They impressed us with their skill and creativity. When they brought their partners in Digital Rim to the table, we embraced them. We look forward to working with Rainbow, John, Terence and DDS on this picture."

Digital Dream, Rainbow, Woo and Chang formed Digital Rim in October, 2000, opening the market for digital entertainment around the world by leveraging its creative, technological, marketing and business expertise in the production and distribution of digital movies, videogames, computer-generated imagery for film and television and other entertainment based on digital technology among top-tier film directors and computer game developers.

Mike Simpson, co-head of Worldwide Motion Pictures at the William Morris Agency and John Mass, head of William Morris Consulting, represent Digital Rim and Mirage on this project. The Rainbow/Digital Rim deal was negotiated by Frederick Fierst of Fierst & Pucci LLP, Northampton, MA on behalf of Mirage Studios, Inc., and Jeff C. Padden of Allen Price & Padden in Phoenix on behalf of Digital Rim.

Father Geek back... I hope that clears up any doubts concerning the Woo envolvement in the new Turtle Flick, and the exact nature of that project...

Now, on to the regular column from Darius25 and crew...


Hey all, hope you've had a great week.

We have some major scoops for you in our latest column including reviews of Hayao Miyazaki's next film, "Aks (The Reflection)", and "Electric Dragon 8000 Volts". We also have news on actor Akshay Kumar's next projects, Yashraj Films' next production, Tsui Hark's next film, Tony Leung Chiu-wai's next film, "To Dance With The White Dog", and "Godzilla, King Gidorah, Dai Kaiju Sou Kougeki". Now here's the latest from Asia.


- After "Ajnabee (The Stranger)", Akshay Kumar will again work with directors Abbas-Mustan in one of their many upcoming films. This film will be produced by Gordhan Tanwani. Pre-production is supposed to begin very soon.

- Akshay has also been signed to appear in director Anil Sharma's next film, which could be the one with either Sunny Deol or another film with Aamir Khan. This film will be produced by Bunty Soorma and the Morani brothers. Principal photography will start in January.

- Model turned actress Lisa Ray will star in "Kya Main Ab Bhi Tumse Pyar Karta Hoon? (Do I Still Love You?)", opposite Lucky Ali and Raveena Tandon. The film will be directed by newcomer Bobby Khan.

- Madhuri Dixit has been signed to appear in Yashraj Films' next production, which will be directed by Yash Chopra. The film is still very early in the production stages as Yashraj is busy in producing "Mujhse Dosti Karoge (Want to be Friends?)". Yashraj is also playing a key role in Karan Johar's "Kabhi Khushi Kabhee Gham (Sometimes Happy, Sometimes Sad)".

- Last week, the highly anticipated thriller "Aks (The Reflection)" came out and all I have to say that it is definitely not as I expected it to be. The film, which has been expertly directed by newcomer Rakesh Mehra is NOT a remake of "Face/Off" or "Fallen" although it uses ideas from both movies to create a unique what if story, which is more of a character study then anything else. Yes there are many grisly scenes filled with streams of blood and there is some "wire-fu" aswell, but this is NOT an action film. Amitabh Bachchan gives one of the best performances of his career as a National Security Cop (a VIP bodyguard) Manu Verma, who's hot on the trails of political assassin Raghuvan (Manoj Bajpai in a yet another tour-de-force performance). In a very stylish chase scene (set under a waterfall no less!), Manu catches up with Raghuvan and the killer gets sentenced to death. In a last daring attempt to escape, Raghuvan pulls out an officer's gun and fires at Manu while the officer does the same. Both bullets hit their intended targets but the main story has just begun. Don't worry, this is only the interval point of the film and I will reveal the rest. Suffice it to say that this IS the movie from which all new Bachchan films will be compared. It is definitely not his best film, and not even better than some of his recent releases (last year's "Mohabbatein (Love Affairs)" and this year's "Ek Rishta (The Bond of Love)"), but in this film, he has been given a role that perhaps no other actor (other than Jim Carrey and only because of his rubber face) could pull off. He not only plays the heroic cop with ease but his extremely subtle transformation in to a demonic presence is pulled off with such grace that you have to just stare in awe. We see Manu Verma by looking at Bachchan's eyes while his evil smile is easily identifiable as Raghuvan. If Jim Carrey combined his dramatic talents from "The Truman Show) with that of his performance in "Me, Myself and Irene" then it would be something like this. Manoj Bajpai also gives a great performance as a deeply disturbed psycho but he manages to pull it without going over-the-top. Nandita Das and Raveena Tandon are fine in their supporting roles but like all other films, they are not given big roles to take advantage of their talents. The film's production values are really high and match those of a big-budget Hollywood film - the cinematography is just gorgeous, mainly consisting of dark and bluish scenes that look extremely glossy yet disturbing at the same time. The editing and directing is very stylish with all the latest techniques that you would expect from the Wachowski era of filmmaking. The songs are also extremely weird - it fits the dark moods of the film but you wouldn't listen to it by itself. I do have a major warning to you all - the film is very elaborately paced (as in SLOW) so if you expect a slam-bang action film, you will be disappointed. However, if you want an intelligent thriller which combines the deadly Bachchan-Bajpai duo, then look no further than Aks.

Here's a pic of AB doing the gun thing: Click Now

Manoj doing the claw thing: Go Here

Amitabh Bachchan with Nandita Das - check out the "evil" smile: Click Here

Finally, I just HAVE to include this pic of Raveena Tandon: Just Click

- Surprisingly, there was another film released last week. "Tum Bin (Without You)" was directed by Anubhav Sinha and is a yet another teenybopper romance with a fresh cast and serious twist. Priyanshu Chatterjee stars as a corporate whiz, Shekhar, who kills Amar Shah (Rakesh Bapat) in a hit-and-run accident. Feeling guilty for his actions, he flies to Canada to meet with Amar's family. He pretends to be a friend of the deceased and weaves his way into the family while also falling in love with Amar's fiancée, Pia (Sandhali Sinha). Things go pretty well for the couple until another friend, Abhigyan (Himanshu Nanda), pops up into their lives. Of course the secret comes out and Pia must decide between one of her two suitors while also dealing with the death of her fiancée. The film takes its time in revealing all of its plot points and focuses each of its characters in depth. The acting is much better than you would have expected, especially by Sandhali Sinha and Priyanshu Chatterjee. The direction is adequate enough for a dramedy while the songs are GREAT and really pleasing to the ears. My advice for this week would be to see "Aks" but this film is just light (but serious) enough to make for a pleasant evening in the theatres.


Here is AccSpy's weekly report:

- Director Tsui Hark will produce and may direct a period martial arts film based on a novel by acclaimed author Louis Cha. Martial-artists Lau Kar-leung (the director of "Drunken Master 2") and Louis Koo (the upcoming "Legend of Zu") have joined the cast so far. Tsui Hark promised the film will return to the style of old-fashioned kung fu films style and will be filmed without the help of any CGI, unlike "Legend of Zu".

- Tony Leung Chiu-wai had almost served as the producer for last year's "Healing Hearts" but now he has decided to produce his first ever film right after finishing Zhang Yimou's "Heroes", which would be a comedy. His onscreen partner Maggie Cheung has already agreed to join since she hasn't done a comedy for seven to eight years. Jeff Lau from "Eagle Shooting Heroes" may direct the film.

- Comedian Eric Kot will join Jacky Cheung and Anita Mui in Ann Hui's new drama, "Man at Forty (lit. title)".

- "Shaolin Soccer" was still at the top of last weekend's HKBO, and enjoyed a slim decline during its second weekend. The film has collected an impressive $28.5 million HKD so far. "Shrek" stayed at the second place, while "Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within", "Atlantis : The Lost Empire" and "Swordfish" debuted at no.3 with $3.3 million, no.4 with $2.2 million and no.5 with $1.5 millions, respectively. "Dr. Dolittle 2' and Anita Mui's "Midnight Fly" debuted low at no.7 and no.10 respectively.


Here is the latest report from Pigmon:

- Now this is an AICN exclusive!! I recently attended the premiere of Hayao Miyazaki's upcoming film "Sen To Chihiro No Kamikakushi (Spirited Away)" and found it to be a warm and touching anime with lots of humour. This movie is entirely CG but looks like traditional cell animation with the background objects being really beautiful, especially the water animation. The film is a modern day fairy tale filled with all sorts of mystical beings like Miyazaki's previous film. The story begins with a 10 year old girl, Chihiro, who is moving to a new town with her parents. They happen to pass by a mysterious tunnel which the parents go through. A deserted town lies on the other side with all sorts of wonders, but it also happens to be a curse. When Chihiro finally goes through the tunnel, she discovers that her parents are now turned into pigs and that the town is a resting place for otherworldly creatures such as ghosts, monsters and even gods. Humans who stay in the town must change into one of these creatures inorder to survive. The film follows the adventures of Chihiro (who gets a new name later on - Sen) as she befriends some of these creatures, helps them with their problems, fights an evil witch, and tries to find a way home. The different creatures are the main reason to see the film, and their animation designs are really wonderful. The landscape is very beautiful and the movement of the characters are very smooth, just like Miyazaki's other works. The film is opening here (Japan) on July 20th and will open in the rest of the world sometime next year (courtesy of Disney).

- I also happened to see "Electric Dragon 8000 Volts", one of the best cult movies since "Tetsuo". Directed by Sogo Ishi ("Gojo"), the 55 min, B&W film is an all out action fest between two guys with electric powers. The film's hero is Riyuganzi Morison (Tadanobu Asano) who acquired his 80 000 volts of power by getting an electric shock while climbing a power tower. His enemy is Raiden Butsuzuo (Masatoshi Nagase) who is even more powerful - he has 200 000 volts within him. The two face off in the climactic showdown atop Tokyo rooftops which is probably the best action sequence since T2!! The film features a really good techno soundtrack performed by the two leads. The choice to shoot it in B&W was very smart and the cinematography was brilliant. The awesome VFX was done by Nobuaki Koga, who also did the "Neon Genesis Evangelion" series and "Avalon". To take a look at some of the film's visuals, go to its website at

- First time director Kitaka Tukino will direct "To Dance With The White Dog", about a widower with cancer who comes to terms with his life through the help of a dog. Tatsuya Nakadia ("Ran") stars in the film, which will start shooting this summer.

- Music-video director Hideaki Sunaga has completed his first feature film, "Kemonogare, Orera No Saru To". The film, about a struggling script-writer, will release later on in the month.

- Director Hideyuki Kouziki has completed his next film, "Back Stage". The film follows a bunch of newcomers as they aspire to be celebrities and focuses on their day to day lives. It will be released sometime in August.

- For the first time in Toho's history, a female actress (Rie Ohta) will wear the Baragon suit for the film "Godzilla, King Gidorah, Dai Kaiju Sou Kougeki". The monster will be coloured red in the film.

- Advance tickets for the new "Planet of Apes" is already selling like hotcakes due to a promotional tie in which gives away free figurettes with every ticket. The film has already sold more than 22 000 tickets in the 9 biggest cities of Japan, surpassing A.I.'s advance ticket sales by 14 000!!. The film's premiere will be held on July 21 while Tim Burton arrives in the country on the 16th for promotional activities.

- Here's some news from Down Under. Apparently, "Inspector Gadget 2" will be made really soon in Australia as production companies are having some very important meetings this coming week, particularly with Academy-award winning animatronics wizard John Cox.

We have now reached the end of this week's column. Remember, if you have information regarding any film industry in Asia, please contact our Asia-AICN offices at See you all next week.


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