Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group (CTMPG) has acquired worldwide distribution rights excluding Asia and France to Highbinders, the latest Asian-financed action adventure to star Jackie Chan. The film, which is backed by Emperor Multimedia Group (EMG), recently wrapped a portion of its shooting schedule in Ireland and is now moving to Hong Kong and then Thailand for additional principal photography.

The epic film teams Chan with an international cast including Lee Evans, Claire Forlani, Julian Sands, Christy Chung, John Rhys-Davies and Anthony Wong. He plays a Hong Kong detective who uncovers an international smuggling ring and follows its trail to Dublin where he teams up with an eccentric British Interpol agent (Evans).

Gordon Chan is directing the film which is produced by Alfred Cheung from a screenplay by Cheung, Bennett Joshua Davlin, Bey Logan and Paul Wheeler.

The project was brought in to CTMPG by vice president of acquisitions Benedict Carver; CTMPG vice president of business affairs Matthew Dixon negotiated with EMG. EMG head of international distribution May Yip handled negotiations on behalf of EMG, together with co-producer Tim Kwok, who first brought the project to CTMPG's attention.

EMG chairman Albert Yeung is executive producer of the film along with Willie Chan and Jackie Chan. "We are delighted to be working with Columbia Tristar on Highbinders," said Yeung in a statement. "I have no doubt that the company will give our film the kind of prestigious, high-profile international release it deserves."

"Jackie Chan is a megastar whose fan base extends all over the world," said CTMPG executive vice president Clint Culpepper. "We think this picture, which is one of the biggest productions ever to be financed by a Hong Kong company, will appeal to Jackie's existing American and overseas audience, as well as to viewers who haven't yet discovered his winning combination of wit and action."

Chan starred in one of the year's biggest domestic hits Rush Hour 2 and will next be seen in DreamWorks SKG's The Tuxedo. He works both in Asia and Hollywood, and after Highbinders is scheduled to star in Spyglass Entertainment's Shanghai Knights, a sequel to Shanghai Noon.