Korea'sCJ Entertainment and New Line Cinema have struck a pioneering co-productiondeal for The Shadowless Sword. The period action film is written anddirected by Kim Jung-joon and is billed as a sequel to breakout internationalhit Bichunmoo.

The$6.5m Troy-like film, set in 800AD, began 15 weeks of production inChina on Wednesday (16 Feb) and is scheduled to be completed in early autumn.Arahan-star Yun So-yi stars as a princess warrior who searches for a mate tohelp her save her country. Co-stars include Lee Seo-jin and Shin Hyun-joon.

Thedeal starts with New Line taking world rights to the film outside Asia under a negative pickup and CJ handlingdistribution in Asia. Although New Line is not guaranteeing a theatricalrelease in North America, the film also involves a very high level ofco-operation between the two firms.

NewLine is expected to include the film in its international output deals, but ifthe pair receive higher offers from individual buyers, the film is likely tosee territories sold piecemeal.

"Thisis not a big film by New Line standards, but it does involve their doing asmuch legal and paperwork as on a bigger budget title, so we really appreciatethe learning curve that Cam Galano [president of New Line InternationalReleasing] and her team are helping us along," said Catherine Park, seniorvice president of international at CJ.

"WhereBichunmoo recouped entirely from Korea, we are looking to theinternational market for Shadowless Sword. For the first time we aremaking a film with a completion bond [from Los Angeles-based CineAsia] and abank loan [from Comerica]. This requires us to be rigid about schedules andscripts and prepare all the elements in English."

Bichunmoo, a martial arts fantasy which was co-produced with China, was oneof the first Korean films to be widely exported and sold to Miramax for NorthAmerica. It was budgeted at $3m and achieved over two million admissions inKorea and more than $1.5m in international sales.