Action star Jet Li is set to star in a contemporary Chinese-language drama Ocean Heaven, to be directed by debut filmmaker Xue Xiaolu, which marks the actor’s first non-action project.

Set in the harbour city of Qingdao, the film is jointly financed by Beijing-based companies BDI Films, Beijing Harmony and Harvest Media and Jiaxuan. Hong Kong-based Edko Films will distribute in mainland China and Hong Kong.

Taiwanese actress Kuei Lun-mei and Chinese actor Wen Zhang will co-star with Li in the drama about father-son relationships. Jet Li will portray a father and Wen Zhang will play his son who suffers from autism. Kuei will portray a stage performer at Qingdao’s Polar Ocean World, which is the main location of the film.

Director Xue Xiaolu, who was the scriptwriter on Chen Kaige’s drama Together, will also script Ocean Heaven. Christopher Doyle will handle cinematography while Hai Chung-man (Curse Of The Golden Flowers) will serve as art director of the film. The release date is set for spring 2010.

Meanwhile Chinese actress/director Xu Jinglei has also started shooting her romantic comedy Du Lala. The film, backed by China Film Group and LA and Beijing-based media company DMG, is adapted from a popular novel about an office lady‘s struggle for promotion at work. 

Xu will also star along with Karen Mok and Taiwanese pop singer Stanley Huang. NBA Denver Nuggets star Chris Anderson will make a guest appearance in the film, which is aiming for an early 2010 release.