Production has started on John Woo’s highly-anticipated action thriller Manhunt, starring Zhang Hanyu and Masaharu Fukuyama, in Osaka, Japan.

Korean actress Ha Ji-won and Chinese actress Qi Wei have also joined the cast of the $40m film, produced by Gordon Chan and Chan Hing-kai and backed by Hong Kong’s Media Asia.

The film’s ensemble cast also includes veteran and upcoming Japanese actors such as Yasuaki Kurata, Jun Kunimura, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Nanami Sakuraba, Naoto Takenaka and Tao Okamoto.

Japanese crew have also been tapped for the film, including art director Yohei Taneda and cinematographer Takuro Ishizaka.

The cast and crew held a traditional Japanese kagami biraki ceremony to mark the start of production, also attended by local government officials. Osaka prefecture and the Japanese rail transit corporation are both supporting the shooting of the film.

Based on a novel by Juko Nishimura, about a lawyer wrongly accused of murder, the project has deep roots in Japan. Nishimura’s novel was first adapted into a 1976 Japanese film starring Ken Takakura and Ryoko Nakano, which became an instant hit in mainland China.

Manhunt is expected to finish shooting by October 2016 and is being lined up for release in China in spring 2018.