In the first deal of its kind in Japan, Fuji TelevisionNetwork and Sony Pictures Entertainment Japan (SPEJ) are joining forces toacquire Japanese rights for Kung FuHustle, the latest action comedy by Hong Kong actor-director Stephen Chow.The partners will buy theatrical, broadcast and home entertainment rights tothe film - the first-ever such pairing between a Japanese network and majorstudio.

Set for a January 2005 release in Hong Kong, the filmfollows on Chow's Shaolin Soccer,which earned $25m at the Japanese box office and was broadcast nationwide inApril on Fuji TV. The rating, 22%, was the highest for a film on Fuji since Titanic's 26% in June 2003.

Set in 1940s Shanghai, KungFu Hustle features Chow as a gangster wannabe who has a chance to provehimself in a gang vendetta against a rural village -- but finds out the placeis crawling with kung fu masters. The scale and date of the film's Japaneserelease have yet to be decided.