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Buddhist blockbuster in theaters now

"I liked the script the first time Benny told me," Jackie Chan said, at the premiere, recalling his guest participation in the film. "Initially, I was playing a leading role, but there was [some] overlapping with my other film, so I had to be cut to a supporting role. When [we] went to shooting, I acted nonstop for a week and slept one hour every day, but having seen the film, I feel it was all worthwhile," smiled him.

According to director Chan, the original cut was three-and-a-half hours and he had to cut this into two-thirds its length for final viewing. Faced with concerns of a confusing or inferior narrative due to the deleted footage, he explained, "We deleted only the unnecessary scenes; the narration is still very convincing."

After appearing in Battle of Wits (2006) and Future X-Cops (2010), Shaolin marks the third collaboration for mainland actress Fan Bingbing with Lau as an onscreen couple. Facing media criti-cism of an overused and stale partnership, director Chan defended the casting, saying, "It is [our] investors insisting there is chemistry between them… as long as there are still audiences wanting to see them, it is OK."

To ensure a realistic Shaolin setting, the team built a life-size copy of a Shaolin temple at a cost of 20 million yuan ($3.04 million). "Me and Benny have done a lot of research and found many films and TV [shows] have given the wrong impression of Shaolin. We then made our mind to build one for the film," art director Chung-Man Hai, told media, "Although we want to keep the set very much, there was a bombing scene [in which the temple is shelled by the warlord's foreign collaborators] in the end and [we] had to burn down the temple."

Director Chan hoped his Shaolin will stand out from the crowd. "There has been hundreds of Shaolin film and TV productions over the last two or three decades and there still will be in the future but I hope our version could be unique among them all."

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