Venice to honor action master

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Chinese cinema will have a strong presence at the 11-day 67th Venice International Film Festival, which kicked off yesterday.

Tomorrow will be "John Woo Day", when the action maestro will be awarded the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement on the Lido.

Two of his films will be screened later today: one, the Weinstein Company version of The Killer and the other, Mujeokja, the South Korean remake of his masterpiece A Better Tomorrow, starring superstars Joo Jin-mo, Song Seung-hun, and Kim Kang-woo.

The awards ceremony will be followed by the world premiere of Reign of Assassins, a kungfu thriller co-directed by Woo and Taiwan director Su Chao-pin. The film will feature in the Out of Competition session.

Set in ancient China, it boasts a stellar cast that includes Michelle Yeoh, South Korean star Jung Woo-sung, and mainland veteran Wang Xueqi.

Another Hong Kong director Tsui Hark's kungfu thriller Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame is the only Chinese film that will enter the main competition.

The period drama tells the story of a Chinese Sherlock Holmes who lived some 1,300 years ago, and stars Hong Kong actor Andy Lau and mainland A-lister Li Bingbing.

Tsui's film will face stiff competition from Black Swan by Darren Aronofsky, starring Natalie Portman, Somewhere by Sofia Coppola and Saverio Costanzo's The Solitude of Prime Numbers.

Competing in another important session titled The Horizon are two Chinese documentaries by acclaimed director Huang Wenhai.

Reconstructing Faith centers on Buddhism and was filmed at the same time as Huang Wenhai's masterpiece We, which received the Special Jury Prize in the Horizon Awards in 2008.

Crust, on the other hand, is a 13-minute short film on a Chinese steelworker in a Yangtze River shipyard.

Hong Kong director Andrew Lau's action flick Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen, was the second film to be shown on the opening night.

Featuring the third installment of the saga of Chen Zhen, the hero brought to screen by Bruce Lee in Fist of Fury, its screening marked the 70th birth anniversary of the legendary actor.

Mainland independent director Zhang Yuan's first 3D effort, the animated film Space Guy, will also be screened, while Hong Kong art house filmmaker Stanley Kwan will be part of the jury for the Award for a Debut Film.

Zhang Yimou, who has won the Golden Lion twice and has just completed his first romantic film in 10 years, Under the Hawthorn Tree, is busy with the film's nationwide release on Sept 16 and will not attend the festival.

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