Hong Kong's Emperor Motion Pictures (EMP) has acquired rights for Hong Kong and Macau to Chu Yen-ping's $10m kung-fu basketball movie Slam Dunk. Kadokawa Herald Pictures had previously stepped up for Japanese rights last November.

In addition, Emperor Entertainment Group star Charlene Choi has joined the cast of the high-profile production alongside Jay Chou, Berlin Chen and newcomer Baron Chen.

Co-produced by Taiwan 's Chang-Hong Channel Film and Video Co and the Shanghai Film Studio, the film starts shooting in Shanghai on Friday (March 9) for two months before location work in Taipei. Chang-Hong is also handling international sales on the film which was also pre-sold to Indonesia's P.T. Teguh Bakti Mandiri, Malaysia's PMP Entertainment and Hwa Yea Multimedia for Singapore.

Launched in the early 90s by Slam Dunk producer Wu Tun, Chang-Hong has been a regular collaborator of the film's veteran director and scriptwriter, Chu Yen-ping.

The film's martial arts will be choreographed by Hong Kong's Tony Ching Siu-tung, fresh from his work on Curse Of The Golden Flower and Japanese fantasy Dororo.

Confusingly, the project is not based on Japan's wildly popular comic book series of the same title, which spawned a 101-episode television series and four movies.

Instead the film tells the story of an orphan adopted by a kung-fu university who uses his martial arts skills to excel in the sport of basketball. Stephen Chow's similarly-themed Shaolin Soccer was a box office smash across Asia in 2001.

The Taiwan government awarded the project $450,000 in December's annual round of production subsidies. It will also be the first film to be backed by a multi-million dollar loan from the executive branch of government, guaranteed by a local bank.

Distribution strategy is to release the film during the 2008 Lunar New Year holidays in Chinese markets and during the lucrative 'Golden Week' in Japan.