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Dragon Ball to become live action film
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Hong Kong comic filmmaker Stephen Chow will help Hollywood studio Twentieth Century Fox produce a movie based on the popular Japanese anime series Dragon Ball, Shanghai-based Oriental Morning Post reported on Thursday.

Chinese-American director James Wong, whose credits include Final Destination and the TV series The X Files, will direct the movie, scheduled to start filming within the year. Steven Chow's company has confirmed the story to be true.

War of the Worlds actor Justin Chatwin, who played the son of Tom Cruise's character, will portray the lead character Son Goku, a monkey-tailed warrior loosely inspired by the "Monkey King" Sun Wukong in classical Chinese novel Journey to the West. Chatwin is currently receiving strict physical training under the guidance of a stunt company.

James Marsters, who had roles in Smallville, Angel, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, will play the villain Piccolo in the movie.

"I have been a Dragon Ball fan for a long time," Stephen Chow, who presented many classics including Kung Fu Hustle, told the Oriental Morning Post, "The airy and unstrained story leaves much room for creation." Chow also explained why he would not be directing the film, "I only direct original movies that I have composed. This is my principle."

Chow is recommending Zhang Yuqi, leading actress in his new sci-fi film A Hope, to play the role of Goku's girlfriend in the film.

Dragon Ball, created by Akiry Toriyama, is one of Japan's most successful cartoons of all time. Between 1984 and 1995, Toriyama created 519 installments of the original manga for the publisher Shueisha and its Weekly Shonen Jump magazine.

The manga's 42 compiled volumes have sold over 150 million copies in Japan and over 300 million copies worldwide. Both the manga and its anime adaptations (Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z) have enjoyed success in Asia, Europe, North America, and South America. The 17 animated movies in the franchise have been viewed a record 49 million times in Japanese theaters.

Fox first acquired the live-action film rights to Dragon Ball in 2002.
(CRI November 15, 2007)

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