Jackie Chan, Andy Lau and Nicholas Tse will head the cast of $29.28m (RMB200m) action epic Shaolin, which marks the first time in 27 years that a film has been authorised to shoot in China’s legendary Shaolin temple.

Hong Kong’s Emperor Motion Pictures (EMP), China Film Group and two other Beijing-based companies – Huayi Brothers and Silver Moon Productions – are working with the Shaolin Temple Culture Communication Centre on the project. The last feature film to shoot at the temple was Shaolin Temple starring Jet Li in 1982.

Benny Chan (ConnectedNew Police Story) will direct the film which is scheduled to start shooting at the end of 2009 for release in late 2010.

Wu Jing, Yu Shaoqun and Fan Bingbing will also feature in the star-studded cast, along with thousands of Shaolin disciples.

Unlike the 1982 film which is set in Tang Dynasty, Shaolin is set in the early 20th century when China was at war. Nicholas Tse will play a wealthy young man who finds refuge in the temple after a tragic incident in his family. He meets his kung fu master, played by Jackie Chan, in the temple as well as future enemies.

Cory Yuen will serve as action director, with Fletcher Poon Yiu-Ming handling cinematography Chung-man Hai working as production designer.

“We felt that it was important not to rush into a film project just for the sake of making another film. It has taken us a long time to find the right partners who had all the right elements for something as monumental as this,” said Abbot Shi Yongxin today at a press conference in the temple in Songshan, Henan province.

Albert Lee, CEO of EMP, said: “This is the project that EMP has been determined to pursue right from the start. I’d like to thank the Abbot for his faith in our vision and also to thank our mainland partners who have helped us realise an outstanding dream.”