Distribution Workshop, the new Hong Kong-based production and sales outfit founded by Nansun Shi and Jeffrey Chan, has picked up international rights outside Japan to upcoming Japanese thriller Rain Fall, starring Gary Oldman.

The $12m film, directed by Australian Max Mannix and produced by Japan's Satoru Iseki and Megumi Fukasawa, is currently in post-production in Australia after shooting in New York and Tokyo.

Based on the best-selling novel by Barry Eisler, the film stars Japanese actor Kippei Shiina (Shinobi, Sakuran) as the assassin John Rain who is forced to protect the daughter of one of his own targets. Oldman plays the chief officer of the CIA Tokyo bureau, while Kyoko Hasegawa (Nanayo) plays the daughter.

The film is backed by Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan, Sony Music Entertainment Japan, Asatsu ADK and Lawson Ticket. It is being billed as one of the first Japanese productions to use Western-style financing methods, including a completion bond supplied by Film Finances and bank financing from Standard Chartered.

SPE Japan will release in the film in Japan in April 2009 through one of the country's largest circuits on around 300 prints.

Shi and Chan are commencing sales talks on the project at the upcoming Asian Film Market at Pusan. Their new outfit is a joint venture between themselves and Beijing-based Bona International Film Group, which is China's biggest independent distributor. Former Mandarin Films executive Virginia Leung recently joined the company as head of sales.

Distribution Workshop will also be handling titles from Irresistible Films, a fund established by Japan's Avex Group and Hong Kong producer Bill Kong, which is holding a launch event at Pusan.

The company has also picked up international rights to Chinese sleeper hit Almost Perfect, a comedy directed by newcomer Wang Yuelun and starring Huang Yi (Plastic City), which grossed $7m during the period of the Beijing Olympics.