Emperor Multi-media Group (EMG) has signed Reginald Hudlin to direct its Jackie Chan film The Highbinders which, at a suggested budget of $35m, is the most expensive film ever to be financed from Hong Kong.

The English-language martial arts fantasy will shoot later in June or July in Hong Kong and locations that possibly include Ireland and Australia. Hudlin is best known so far as the director of Boomerang, and also of House Party, which he made with his producing brother Warrington. He is currently directing Matthew Perry in Servicing Sara for Mandalay Entertainment.

Hong Kong-based EMG - currently little known, but set to make a big splash in Asian and international cinema - is fully-financing The Highbinders and says the film will be ready for delivery in early 2002.

"We are keen to secure distribution partners, but do not need to hurry a US sale," said producer Alfred Cheung during this week's American Film Market in Santa Monica. "With an English-language Jackie Chan film that will be available whether or not the SAG strike goes ahead, we are in the happy position of having distributors come to us."