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BLADE II

Many U.S. moviegoers got their first good look at Donnie Yen last year when his 1993 martial arts movie Iron Monkey was released domestically by Miramax pictures. But Yen, like Jackie Chan and Jet Li before him, is an accomplished martial arts super-star in Asia who is poised to break out in the America.

He's starred in over 30 features in Hong Kong and directed a number of films there as well. Now, Yen is now acting in his second Hollywood film, Blade 2. More importantly, Yen made his mark on the super-hero sequel as the action choreographer.

Comics2Film talked with the filmmaker about his career and his experiences with Blade 2.

[Yen on the set]C2F: I understand that your initial martial arts training started with your mother, Bow Sim-Mark, a Tai Chi master.

Donnie Yen: Tai Chi as well as Wushu master. Actually Wushu is the proper term for Kung Fu. The exact translation of Kung Fu is just meaning "skill". That could apply to cooking, writing, anything that is skillful you can call Kung Fu, but the actual martial art itself is called Wushu.

Anyway she teaches Wushu and Tai Chi, matter of fact she still does, in Boston.

C2F: At what age did you start?

DY: Very young. Actually, not as young as everybody expects: as soon as I was born, not at all.

Me and my mother were separated for many years during the cultural revolution. My mom stayed behind in China. My father took me to Honk Kong when I was 1.

So, I started my martial arts training when I was nine years old, when I reunited with my Mom. She left China. She reunited with me and my father. Then I started my martial arts training under her.

C2F: At that time you lived in Boston. Why did you go back to Hong Kong and how did you end up in movies?

[Blood Pack]DY: I was traveling around studying martial arts all over the world. I was in China back in 1981, traveled throughout China to study martial arts. The quest of the ultimate truth of martial arts.

I was a big fan of Bruce Lee, like many others. I stopped by Hong Kong and I met up with my mentor, Yuen Wo Ping [also credited in U.S. as Woo-ping Yuen]. Of course Yuen Wo Ping's name is all over the place now, especially after Crouching Tiger won an Oscar.

Anyway, he was a huge, influential martial arts director at the time, and he still is. He was looking for new blood. That was like two years after he made a movie called Drunken Master and Snake in the Eagle's Shadow, which, by the way, brought super-stardom to Jackie Chan.

His older sister used to be my mom's martial arts student when my mother was in Hong Kong. Because of that connection, he was looking for this young kid and I was stopping by and through our common connection he met up with me. He saw me and was really, really impressed by my martial arts abilities. Then he signed me for a couple years of exclusive contract under his company. Then I made my starring movie, directed by him, at the age of 19.

It's called Drunken Tai Chi, one of those classic kung fu movies. Way more classic than Iron Monkey truthfully! Back in the old days where you don't see anything but just fighting. One of those Sunday afternoon Kung Fu theater? One of those.

C2F: How did you get involved with Blade 2?

DY: I kept making movies in Hong Kong, non-stop. Then back in late 1999, early 2000 Miramax called me. By then I already formed my own company and I was doing a lot behind the camera, directing as well as acting.

Miramax called and said they really love my work and would like to buy a collection of my previous films one of them being Iron Monkey of course, and they wanted to be in business with me.

With that under negotiation they put me in a film called Highlander. At the time Highlander never really had an Asian role but because they want to be in business with me they had the script writer call me up in Hong Kong and then we kind of coordinated a setup where they could fit a role for me in that film. It's probably unheard of but Miramax can make anything happen.

So both Harvey and Bob Weinstein really loved my performance in the film and I came to L.A. and hooked up with all the agents and lawyers. Miramax really continues to be a supporter of me being here and wants to make something out of me. Eventually they bought about 5-6 of my films into their library.

And then in the course of my agent trying to find projects for me, Guillermo del Toro, the director of Blade 2 called my agents up and wanted to talk to me. When I walked in he said he's a big fan and held up some of my video tapes and said he wants me to be part of that film.

I ended up being martial arts choreographer of the film. But because both him and Wesley (also a big fan who loved Iron Monkey) wanted me to be part of the film I ended up playing a cameo. But my main position was martial arts choreographer.

C2F: The cameo is the character Snowman. Did you get much screen time?

[Iron Monkey]DY: (Laughing) I really don't know what they did with me. I guess whenever you see the blood pack you see me around. So a lot of hard-core kung fu fans don't expect too much out of me. I'm just playing a cameo due to my respect and gratitude toward Del Toro and Wesley.

C2F: As the choreographer, how was it working with an American crew of stuntmen?

DY: Actually, that was my second film, after Highlander. So Highlander gave me a taste of how it is to work in American films as opposed to Hong Kong films. [In Asia] the budget normally is a lot smaller. We're talking about substantially different: from $2 million to an average $10-15 million small-budget film in Hollywood.

First of all, in Hollywood we have all the time in the world as far as preparation goes. Compared to a Hong Kong: say I'm an action director in Hong Kong. I literally have to walk on the set, communicate with the director right then and there. He tells me about the scene. Then I have to go to work. Basically I have to set up the cameras, work with all the actors and actresses. Even if we never worked together before I literally have to make these people perform and make it happen. That's how intense they are in Hong Kong.

Of course, over here we have proper weeks of training with the actors going through the scenes, blocking the scenes, explaining to the director, the camera man. In Hong Kong we pretty much do it all. A lot of times I even have to hold the camera myself, just to speed up getting the shots covered at the end of the day.

C2F: How was Snipes' martial arts work in the film?

DY: Absolutely amazing! I have great things to say about this man.

What I always knew of this man is that he's a big fan of Hong Kong film. I always knew he was attached to a lot of Asian culture by his reputation and some of his previous work. He was doing martial arts in some of his previous work. But when I met him I realized this guy is not only is physically capable but he has a strong understanding of Asian culture.

I was really impressed by his physical abilities as well as his philosophy. As you know martial arts are everywhere right now, especially the Hong Kong style of martial arts presentation on screen. From a TV show to a big Hollywood production like Charlie's Angels, TV commercials, we witnessed that in the Super Bowl, right?

In order to bring out the genuine flavor, the secret is the understanding of Chinese culture. That is very important. A person can be physically capable, but something is missing if he doesn't understand the philosophy behind it. But in Wesley's case he understands and he applies it to his physicality.

That really impressed me. Our very first scene, right before I walked into the set, I was kind of unsure how complicated should I choreograph this stuff for him, not knowing his level of understanding. After working with him very few hours I knew we were on the right path. Then I started getting very complicated with the choreography.

Our second scene, the ninja scene, I just said to the man, "how about a little Crouching Tiger swordplay mixed up with Blade?" He loved the idea. Which you'll see in the movie. There's a lot of swords, weapons flying around, very Chinese-style, very Crouching Tiger, but performed in a cyber, high-tech setting. Something Blade would use.

C2F: How well did the other actors adapt to the fighting?

DY: Wesley was probably the only martial artists on the set besides myself.

The main actress, Leonor Varela, we had to train her. She actually was a very, very fast learner. She did a big fight with Wesley, she played one of the ninjas with a double-sword. Obviously she's never held up a double sword in her entire life, not to mention she's not even a martial artists.

But we trained her and she picked up things quick.

I think my responsibility was how to make these actors as convincing as possible in such a short time, even though we were still given a lot of time compared to Hong Kong. I guess I have my own standards. I'm not only have to answer to a regular audience but I also have to answer some of my expectations from back east where they'll say "oh, this is Donnie Yen's work." The standard has to be a little higher.

C2F: Did you find that your own experience as a director helped you in working on this film?

DY: Absolutely. As an experienced martial arts director, choreographer I understand when a director wants to set up a shot of his vision or his concept, what he wants to bring in front of the camera, I was quite confident that I understood with each shot what he wanted to project. That helped a lot. I could look at him, even from far away and I could understand what he wanted to do with it.

A lot of times I can adapt to that, at times changing the choreography on the set. Little movement to big movements by just manipulating the positions or the turning of the head from the eyesight, just to give the director what I assume he wants. It helped a lot.

C2F: Has there been any talk about Blade 3?

DY: Never heard of Blade 3 until recently. You never know what's going to happen.

C2F: What other big movies do you have coming up?

I just finished this big movie called Hero. That is something, truthfully I think that will be the action film of this year.

We're going to beat Crouching Tiger all the way. Same people, same producers. We have Zhang Yimou, he's one of the best directors from over there. Our goal is not to make a great martial arts film, but we want to make history. We're going for the Oscar.

C2F: What about Donnie Yen, the director?

DY: I just finished directing an action movie, the Japanese name is called "Shurayuki". It's based on a very famous Japanese comic book. The movie is still playing in Japan right now. I finished that last summer. I'm probably going to go back and do a sequel for that.

I will direct another movie, "Japanese Charlie's Angels" in the summer with a very high-profile producer in Japan. That is something I look forward to. My personal interest is actually behind the camera but all of a sudden I'm in demand as an actor right now so I want to take advantage of being in front of the camera as well.

C2F: But directing is your primary interest.

DY: That's my interest. I've starred in 33 movies and I've made 35 films. I've also starred in 300 hours of TV series. I've done a lot of work in Hong Kong, you know, to the point where playing a role doesn't interest me.

When you've been in a TV series for so long, you've pretty much gone through the satisfaction of an actor going through every scene and every situation, and I have. And I was quite fortunate.

I'm more excited by the environment or the project itself. For example, I loved Blade 1. That's one of the big reasons I'm involved with this movie. I thought it was really cool when I saw Blade back in Hong Kong. It had "Hong Kong action" written all over it. So I was really motivated by it. But I never expected Hong Kong action to really take it to the mainstream like what we see to day. It's all over the place.

None of us Hong Kong filmmakers really expected that. It's a blessing in disguise that a lot of my colleagues are over here, not to mention Jackie and Jet Li already broke into the mainstream and became superstars over here.

That's my interest, but as far as acting goes I pick each project if I'm going to have some fun then I'll do it. I'll be going to Prague again (going back and forth) to do Shanghai Knights with Jackie. I've never made a movie with Jackie, and I've probably made a movie with practically everybody under the sun in Hong Kong except for Jackie, so that is something I look forward to.

C2F: Any more American movies on the horizon?

DY: That's why I'm here. I guess Miramax has all kinds of plans for me. Hopefully you'll be hearing more about me in the mainstream over here.

Special thanks to Mike Oeming of his invaluable assistance and expertise.

In other Blade 2 news, Immortal Records has opened a teaser site promoting the Blade 2 Soundtrack. However, while the site reveals few details about the music compilation, the Comics Continuum has published a complete listing of tracks on the CD:

  • "Blade 2 Theme," by Marco Beltrami and Danny Saber
  • "Cowboy," by Eve and Fatboy Slim
  • "I Against I," by Mos Def and Massive Attack
  • "Right Here, Right Now," by Ice Cube and Paul Oakenfold
  • "Tao of the Machine," by the Roots and BT
  • "Child of the West," by Cypress Hill and Roni Size
  • "The One," Busta Rhymes, Silkk The Shocker, and Dub Pistols
  • "We Be Like This," Fabolous, Jadakiss and Danny Saber
  • "Gorillaz on My Mind," by Redman and Gorillaz
  • "Gangsta Queens," by Trina, Rah Digga, and Groove Armada
  • "PHDream," by Bubba Sparxxx and the Crystal Method
  • "Raised in the Hood," by Volume 10 and Roni Size
  • "Getting' Aggressive," by Mystikal and Moby.

The music strategy for the movie is to pair hip-hop and electronica acts on each track, much in the same way Immortal did with the soundtrack for Spawn. Happy Walters, Immortal Entertainment founder and CEO, said "We have taken an aggressive approach in combining these two types of music on this soundtrack," says Walters. "The process of putting this together was both artistically challenging and fulfilling." Finally, those who wish to put their most bad-ass face forward when chatting on the internet need look no further than the Blade 2 website.

In addition to the two screen savers and two wallpapers already available for download, the Blade 2 web team has added a set of buddy icons. AOL Instant Messenger users can install the buddy icon with a single click. Once your AIM session is protected by the Blade 2 buddy icons, no chatters will dare try to ice skate uphill.

New Line Cinema's Blade 2 opens in U.S. theaters on March 22, 2002.

JEREMIAH

When ShowTime's Jeremiah debuts on March 3rd, it will have traveled a great distance from the roots of the Belgian comic book that spawned it. This week Comics2Film talked with Ervin Rustemagic, an executive producer on the show and founder of Strip Art Features, the Slovenia based publisher who has been responsible for bringing Hermann Huppen's comic to the rest of the world.

C2F: For American fans who aren't familiar with Hermann's work, what can you tell us about him and the Jeremiah comics?

Ervin Rustemagic: Hermann does all the work on the Jeremiah comics himself -- he writes it, he pencils the pages, he paints the colors and he letters the original French texts -- while my company SAF (Strip Art Features) is doing all the production work and prepares Jeremiah for publication in many languages. To some publishers we only license the publishing rights and for some publishers we print the graphic novels at our own printing plant in Slovenia.

Hermann is a true professional. In the past 30 years I do not remember him being one day late with his work. The Jeremiah comics are very much popular in Europe and the series has a great fan following, especially in countries like France, Belgium, Holland, Italy...

We might say that Jeremiah is a cult comic in Europe. It greatly influenced George Miller when he was creating his original Mad Max movie, which he wrote and directed. At that time a friend of his from Germany was sending him installments of the Jeremiah comic that were published in the German "Zack" magazine.

C2F: What has your role been in bringing Jeremiah to TV?

ER:Platinum Studios acquired the movie/TV rights to Jeremiah from us and they made the TV deal in the United States. Although I was regularly informed about the progress in making of that deal, I was not very much involved in concluding of the TV deal.

C2F: How does the show differ from the comics?

ER:There is not much similarity in the stories, although we might say that the atmosphere is there. Roman Polanski, who is a great fan of Hermann's work, once said that each book of Hermann is an excellent movie. I think so, too, and if we were making a movie, each book of Jeremiah could serve as a great plot for a movie. That would make a wonderful franchise. But what we are doing is a TV series and the parameters there are very different.

C2F: How does J. Michael Straczynski's take compare to Hermann's original?

ER:It is hard to compare one to the other because what he is doing is very much different from Hermann's original. Joe Straczynski is a proven professional in the TV-media and I think he knows what he is doing. The TV show might be a big success (I keep my fingers crossed for that), but the Jeremiah comic's fans in Europe are going to be disappointed.

They all have a vision of how Jeremiah should look on the screen and it will be very difficult to explain to them why the show simply didn't transfer Hermann's stories and art on the screen. Joe Straczynski explained to me why certain things from the comic were not possible in the show and I think I understand his reasons, but fans are a different story.

It will be a lost war if we try to persuade any of them that their beloved comic couldn't have been just transferred into a TV show in the way they wanted it to be.

C2F: Were there any elements of the comics that you wish were in the show, but aren't?

ER:Yes, many, but I will only mention that Kurdy (Jeremiah's pal) in Hermann's comics wears a helmet and a necklace with "Mother" written on it. Kurdy in the TV series doesn't have any of these. Reactions of fans in Europe will be very negative to this.

C2F: How was your working relationship with Straczynski? Luke Perry? The other creative people involved with the show?

ER:I am one of seven Executive Producers who get credits on the show, but the only ones who are on the set all the time are J. Michael Straczynski and Sam Egan, as well as George Horie, the producer. The first two are also writing most of the episodes.

I met with everyone on the set. Both Luke Perry and Malcolm-Jamal Warner are great guys. It was an instant friendship and I like them very much indeed. I almost forgot -- Luke is also one of Executive Producers. And everybody else on the set seems to be co-operating very well with each other. They all look like a big, happy family.

C2F: You founded Strip Art Features in 1972. How did you come to be interested in publishing comics?

ER:Bad luck! This is what I use to answer to such questions. I am working 14-16 hours a day, seven days a week, 30 years in a row.

I have two kids - Maja, my daughter, is 19, studying medicine in Slovenia. My son Edvin is 15, goes to school and plays handball and guitar. I did not see them grow, because I was always in my office, swamped with my work, and never at home. My wife Edina, who is a professor of philosophy, could not work in her profession because she had to take care of the kids (and of me, too). And now it is too late for me to baby-sit Maja and Edvin. I must say I am happy they are not interested in their dad's profession. I want to see them devote some time to their future families.

C2F: 10 years ago you were running Strip Art Features from war-torn Sarajevo. You've since relocated to Slovenia. Now you're on the brink of launching a major U.S. TV show. How does that feel?

ER:I am someone who walks on the earth, not in the clouds, as we use to say over here. It was very emotional for me to see Jeremiah 'coming to life', after I have been producing the comic for so many years. But nothing more than that. I do not feel like being some kind of a 'big player' now because of the TV show. People who should feel overwhelmed with that launching are the ones who are really involved in the production on a day-to-day basis. They will deserve all the applause if the show is a success.

C2F: What can you tell us about your other projects that are being adapted for film or TV? Which look most promising?

ER:I am partnered with Mike Richardson of Dark Horse. We have a publishing and entertainment joint-venture called "Venture". Our Venture entertainment company has offices in Beverly Hills and we have a number of projects in development. Some of them will probably go into production in the near future.

I will only name some of the titles here: Blood Ties, Bird, Zachary Holmes. You can find these books in your book shops (all published by Venture) and you will probably witness their screen adaptations in the following years.

Jeremiah debuts with a two-hour movie on March 3 at 8:00 p.m. on Showtime. Following that it falls into its regular time-slot on Fridays at 10:45 p.m. as part of the network's Sci-Friday line-up.

ASTRO ACES

Comic creator Shannon Denton told Comics2Film that Flatiron Films have picked up the option on his strip Astro Aces. The comic characters made their print debut late last year in Denton's Actionopolis from Antarctic Press. They also appeared in Mangazine and Ninja High School from the same publisher.

Fans can also go to Komikwerks.com for online adventures of space-faring cadets including a spiffy CGI animated trailer for the team.

Flatiron Films was responsible for shepherding Catherine Ryan Hyde's novel Pay It Forward to the big screen.

CROSS

Although the movie version of Andrew Vachss' mercenary character Cross is stuck in development hell, producer Lloyd Segan (Bones) told Comics2Film that he is still actively pursuing it as a project.

Greg Widen (Highlander, The Prophecy) has long been attached to writer and direct the movie, "Greg wrote a terrific draft for New Line Cinema," Segan told C2F.

However, the project has met with a number of hurtles. Cross was primarily a favorite project of New Line's then-president Michael DeLuca. When Deluca parted ways with New Line, the project fell into limbo.

Another sticking point is the tone of the story. "Quite honestly it's a dark piece," Segan said. "As a result, it's not something that is naturally a commercial vehicle. It is a potential franchise, which is I why I think it still has a life."

Cross focuses on a "family" of mercenaries held together by their own pain, hatred and deep sense of disenfranchisement. The characters and concepts of Cross originated in Vachss' short stories but also appeared in comics published by Dark Horse. The limited series Cross touched on the formation of the group while Predator: Race War had the mercenary leader battling the space hunters in a prison.

According to Segan, Vachss remains involved with the development effort. "I've been involved with Andrew for a long time in terms of his other literary work and book series. Nothing happens with out his direct approval," Segan said of Cross. "All of it's being done with his blessing, which is the only way one can go forward when dealing with Andrew's work."

Segan is currently pursuing financing on the project. "It's a terrific piece and I think one of these days we'll get it made."

Segan told us he's interested in much of Vachss' work, including other concepts that have shown up in comic book form. One such title is Underground, which was also published by Dark Horse Comics.

In the mean time Segan is focused on his upcoming TV series The Dead Zone. The show is based on Stephen King's novel of the same name. It stars Anthony Michael Hall (Pirates of Silicon Valley) as a man who wakes up from a coma and finds he as psychic abilities.

The Dead Zone premieres June 16th on USA Network.

SUPERMAN

Although Corona Coming Attractions first floated the story months ago, Variety now confirms that Charlie's Angels director McG has closed a deal to direct Superman for Warner Brothers. J.J. Abrams, creator of TV's Felicity is writing the screenplay.

Neither diector Tim Burton nor star Nicolas Cage, who had previously been attached to the franchise, are invloved with the new deal.

Plans are for the new Super-team to start from scratch. McG will likely film Superman after Charlie's Angels 2: Halo. That movie is set to roll this spring.

Jon Peters (Batman, Ali) is still on board as producer. Warners senior VP Bob Brassel is overseeing the project.

BLACKJACK

Last week Catch 23 Entertainment Inc. announced the acquisition of the film rights to writer Alex Simmons' acclaimed graphic novel series Blackjack from Scott Mitchell Rosenberg's Platinum Studios, and has entered into a co-production agreement with Platinum for the development of a feature film based on the material.

Blackjack is the first acquisition for C23's new urban entertainment division headed by Senior Vice President Darryl Taja, recently christened Catch 23's Alter Ego Entertainment. Michael Jai White (Spawn, John Woo's upcoming Honor Among Thieves) is in preliminary negotiations to star. The announcements was made last week by Jeremy Barber, President of Catch 23 Entertainment.

"Blackjack represents the exact kind of crossover material I hoped to develop at Catch 23's Alter Ego," said Taja.

Alex Simmons' comic book series Blackjack, which debuted in 1996, follows the exploits of independent African-American soldier of fortune Arron Day -- a man called "Blackjack" -- as he roams the globe in search of a life of adventure and danger, from mysterious lost treasures to the schemes of power-mad dictators in a world on the brink of war. Blackjack is thrust into the middle of political warfare in China in order to protect the life of an important Chinese dignitary and lives in a milieu of looming world hostilities, cultural renaissance, and brutal assassins.

Marc Danon, Catch 23's Vice President of Production and Acquisitions, who brought Blackjack to Taja's attention, will develop the project with Taja.

Catch 23's Alter Ego Entertainment is aggressively ramping up its development slate, under the direction of Darryl Taja, Senior Vice President of Catch 23 Management, who continues to operate in a dual role as both talent manager and production executive. C23's Alter Ego will focus primarily on developing projects for the urban-crossover market, but will seek out a wide variety of genre-specific material.

In addition to Blackjack, Taja and Danon are currently developing the family-comedy Mr. Momma, described as an African-American Mr. Mom, with screenwriters Joe Forristal and Dirk Wittenborn. In addition to his responsibilities with C23's Alter Ego, Darryl Taja is also producing the action-comedy Indiana Jackson for Disney, and recently produced the urban-comedy Higher Ed, to be released by the Urban World label of Columbia at Sony, and the comedy Go For Broke, to be distributed through New Line this year.

"I am very pleased with the aggressive growth of our new label under Taja's direction and I am gratified by Taja and Danon's collaboration," said Barber.

THE TALE OF ONE BAD RAT

Fat Dragon Productions, a film production company headed by popular comic book artist Tom Lyle and his artist/writer wife Susan Paris Lyle, is proud to announce the procurement of the award-winning graphic novel The Tale of One Bad Rat for development as a feature length motion picture.

[The Tale of One Bad Rat]The Tale of One Bad Rat, written by British comic artist Bryan Talbot, is the beautiful and dramatic story of a talented teenage girl struggling to regain self-worth and freedom from an abusive childhood. Her successful quest is classic, with some interwoven and unexpected fantasy elements. It has been published by Dark Horse Comics in nine countries and has been in continual release since 1995.

The book has won numerous awards including the prestigious Eisner Award, the Comic Creator's Guild, two UK Comic awards, and the American Parent's Choice award. In 1998 it made the NY Times annual list of recommended reading. It is found as a set text for schools, universities, and in several children's counseling centers in Britain, Finland, France, Germany and North America.

Tom Lyle is writing the screenplay adaptation, and Fat Dragon predicts a 2003 production date. His independent film credits include the comedy Bubbas in the Mist and a psychological thriller Dougie's Room. Bubbas was in the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival. Dougie's Room will be featured at the Silver Sprocket International Film Festival this year. Lyle has been in the comics field for 15 years and is well-known for his Spider-Man, Batman, Robin and Total Recall comic book portrayals.

Richard O'Brien (Riff Raff in The Rocky Horror Picture Show) has already been cast as Sir Noel Tod, one of the featured secondary characters in The Tale of One Bad Rat.

Fat Dragon is also in pre-production with Cleansing, a moving story focusing on religious oppression and how one girl's plight can shake the foundations of a town. Susan Paris Lyle has written the screenplay, based on a short story of the same name by Allison K. Linder.

THE HULK

Josh Lucas is the latest actor to join the cast of Universal and Marvel's The Hulk according to The Hollywood Reporter. Lucas is set to play Major Glen Talbot, a rival for the affections of Jennifer Connelly's Betty Ross. The write-up describes the character as a childhood friend of Betty's who is now a soldier.

Lucas and Connelly previously teamed on A Beautiful Mind. The actor next appears on screen opposite Reese Witherspoon in Sweet Home Alabama.

BULLETPROOF MONK

Michael Stevens of the Sneak Peek website has had a look at the Toronto production schedule for Bulletproof Monk. According to Stevens the filming of martial arts flick is now slated to begin March 9 in Toronto.

Chow Yun-Fat (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), Seann William Scott (American Pie) and James King (Blow) are set to star. Music video director Paul Hunter (Lady Marmalade) is helming.

Fans who missed the Bulletproof Monk comics the first time around will get another shot in May. Image comics is released a trade paperback collecting the series originally published by Flypaper Press. The comic was written by Brett Lewis and R.A. Jones with art by Michael Avon Oeming and Jason Baumgartner. Gotham Chopra served as a story editor and a consultant.

The TPB will feature new art by Oeming.

BLOODSTONE

On the new GeoffJohns.com, JSA and The Flash writer Geoff Johns reports that he is currently part of the production team on Marvel's Bloodstone TV pilot. Johns, who worked with producer Richard Donner (Superman, X-Men) prior to breaking into comics is set to serve as Consulting Producer on the show.

"Basically, I'm helping to steer the creative ship in the right direction," Johns tells his readers. "I'm working with a bunch of terrific people at Marvel Studios and our show-runner, Chris Ruppenthal (Quantum Leap, Outer Limits). We want to create fun and engaging characters, find the right tone ­ staying away from camp, I hate camp ­ and figure out the balance between action, comedy and horror. It's a great job."

Prior reports indicated that Bloodstone will be based on the updated take on the concept currently found in comic book stores. In the new version of Bloodstone the original character's teenage daughter discovers her father's secret life and takes up the role of monster hunter.

Johns also reports that if he could write any comic book movie he would be torn between scripting Captain America and Stars & S.T.R.I.P.E.

Thanks to Dr. Zaius for the lead!

DAREDEVIL

DarkHorizons reports that a teaser trailer for Daredevil could appear in theaters with the Minority Report. That movie is directed by Steven Spielberg and stars Tom Cruise as a cop in a future where people can be arrested for future crimes. In other news, UpcomingMovies.com reports that the movie has a new target release date. According to that site, the movie is now slated for a January 17, 2003 bow.

BIRDS OF PREY

Although Gotham Clock Tower nailed the initial scoop, Variety confirmed recent casting reports for Birds of Prey last week.

As part of the trade's round-up of recent TV pilot casting, Variety confirmed that Dina Meyer (Starship Troopers) is set to play Barbara Gordon/Oracle while Ashley Scott (Dark Angel) will portray The Huntress.

The article also mentions that Scott will keep her recurring role on Dark Angel.

SABRINA COMING TO GAME BOY ADVANCE

Ubi Soft Entertainment, one of the world's largest video game publishers, and Archie Comic Publications, Inc. along with Viacom Consumer Products, the licensing division of Paramount Television, last week announced an exclusive licensing agreement for Ubi Soft to develop and publish a game based on the popular television series Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.

The title for the Game Boy Advance covers all countries, and is expected to ship worldwide in the fall of 2002.

"This gives Ubi Soft an opportunity to capture a large American public and to capitalize on the popularity of one of the country's strongest brands," said Yves Guillemot, president and CEO of Ubi Soft Entertainment. "The game will complete our range for Game Boy Advance and help us continue to retain our position as one of the major third-party publishers for Nintendo."

"The Sabrina franchise continues to be a vibrant property, both here and abroad," said Andrea Hein, president, Viacom Consumer Products. "Viacom has an excellent track record with youth-oriented properties, and Ubi Soft is well respected in the family entertainment arena. Together we will continue Sabrina's magic in the gaming world."

Since 1996, the television series has been broadcast during prime time on Friday evenings and is currently being aired on the WB, the #1 network for girls and teen girls in the US according to NTI Galaxy Explorer.

It can also be seen in France - on Canal J - as well as in Belgium, Italy and Great Britain. In the US, the series is closely followed by viewers between 2 and 17, and is the number-one ranked show among teens in its timeslot. It tells the story of Sabrina, who finds out she is a witch on her 16th birthday and gradually learns to live with her magic powers.

SAINT SINNER

A recent write-up appearing on SCI FI Wire indicates the TV movie version of Clive Barker's Saint Sinner will air this year.

The SCI FI Channel plans on airing movies never seen before on the network every Saturday night at 9 p.m. ET/PT in 2002. The weekly event will be called Scinema Saturdays. Saint Sinner is named among the line up of original movies, which also includes Jackie Chan Presents: Metal Mayhem, Project Viper and Riverworld.

The movie is based on Barker's Marvel/Epic/Razorline comic of the same name. Doris Egan (Dark Angel) wrote the script with Barker.

Saint Sinner tells the tale of a 19th century monk who accidentally unleashes two buxom female demons in human form on the world and has to track them down to contemporary Los Angeles.

SPIDER-MAN

Fans who can't wait for the May 3 release of Spider-Man can check out the movie online right now...er...sort of. LEGO has posted a movie made with their new Spider-Man Action Studio playset designed to work with their LEGO Studios filmmaking kit.

[Spider-Man Legos]Check out the LEGO Studios page to see the webslinger in all his block-headed glory take on the evil Green Goblin and save Mary Jane!

MEN IN BLACK 2

While there's been plenty of super cool goodies on the Spider-Man website, Sony hasn't been neglecting the Men In Black II site either.

New updates have been made to the "Agent Training" section of the site. Get in the simulator and help suppress a rampaging class of 43K Shank Aliens. Help sweep the lower levels of MIB Headquarters of invaders. Use the Alient Identifier to learn some interstellar zoology.

Coming soon to that section are "Urban Alien Hunt" and "Image Exercise."

Now most computer users want to avoid downloading a worm, but at the MiB2 site you can download a "Dancing Worm". That's right, just click your way into the "Field Research" area of the site and select the "MiB2 Visualizer". You'll be able to grab a virtual worm guy and watch him shake his moneymaker to whatever you have playing through WinAmp, Windows Media Player or Real Player.

BATMAN BEYOND: RETURN OF THE JOKER

ToonZone.net reports that the MPAA has rated Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker - The Original Uncut Version a PG-13. The site also has a nifty image of the DVD artwork posted.

NEXT WEEK ON WITCHBLADE

Next week on Witchblade, TNT's re-airing of season 1 continues with episode #5: "Legion."

When a beloved parish priest is murdered, the investigation reveals a conspiracy that puts Sara (Yancy Butler) face to face with the most powerful force of evil she has yet to encounter. Roger Daltry guest stars

"Legion" airs Monday, February 25th at 9pm ET on TNT. An encore airing is scheduled for Tuesday, February 26th at 11pm ET. The encore showing is presented in widescreen format.

NEXT WEEK ON JUSTICE LEAGUE

This Sunday night Cartoon Network airs part one of the "War World" storyline of Justice League. "War World" pit the league against Mongul, the world dominating villain that pits warriors against one another in gladiator style matches.

"War World Part 1" debuts Sunday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. on Cartoon Network. Encore showings are 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 2 with the widescreen showing at 10:00 p.m. the same day.

NEXT WEEK ON SMALLVILLE

Lex's dark secret is revealed on "Kinetic", the February 26th episode of Smallville.

Clark (Tom Welling) and Lex (Michael Rosenbaum) are stumped when the Luthor mansion is robbed by burglars who seem to have the ability to walk through walls. Lex's curiosity turns to desperation when he discovers the thieves have stolen evidence of his secret project and Clark wonders if his dad was right about Lex's deceit all along. Robert Singer directed the episode written by Philip Levens.

Thanks to author and comic book movie journalist Andy Mangels for the info.

THIS WEEK ON SABRINA, THE TEENAGE WITCH

I Dream of Jeannie star Barbara Eden and country music singer Andy Griggs guest star on the upcoming episode of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch called "The Arrangement."

Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) defies her Great Aunt Irma's (Eden) wishes about an arranged marriage with a handsome witch (guest star Greg Vaughan of Charmed) from the Other Realm. When his affections turn towards Roxie (Soleil Moon Frye), Sabrina must try to break them up and walks in on his bachelor party complete with a bar room performance by country music singer Andy Griggs (hit single "You Won't Ever Be Lonely"). Caroline Rhea, Beth Broderick, Nick Bakay David Lascher, Elisa Donovan and Trevor Lissauer also star. Ken Koch directed the episode written by Rosalind Moore.

"The Arrangement" airs Friday, February 22 at 8:00 p.m. ET on The WB.

Thanks to author and comic book movie journalist Andy Mangels for the info.

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