China Star has unveiled a big-budget period action-romance to be directed by veteran Tsui Hark.

Pre-production is cranking up on Books And Swords, a $13m adaptation of one of China's most famous novels. The story, which will be heavy on swordfight action, is about two brothers and is set during the Han dynastic period. One becomes a despotic emperor of China, the other becomes a rebel fighter who opposes the man he later discovers to be his brother in order to protect the common people.

Cecilia Cheung, star of 12 Nights and Tsui Hark's Legend Of Zu, co-stars with Andy Oh, the leading man in China Star's Son Of Masks. Production gets underway in December with delivery scheduled for July or August 2002.

The film is likely to form part of China Star's Hundred Years Of Cinema label, which is now being reshaped as a prestige brand. "The philosophy of The Hundred Years label still works well, but we are not going to produce pictures through it quite as fast as was once envisaged," said China Star's general manger Ann Hung.