US actor John Savage (The Thin Red Line) is joining Chinese star Ge You (The Banquet) in the cast of Chinese comedy drama Gasp, which is being directed by scriptwriter-turned-director Zhen Zhong.

Hong Kong actress Kelly Lin, Taiwanese actor Chen Bolin and China's Liu Hua will also star in the $6m production. Backers include Beijing-based Shengshi Huarui Film Investment and Beijing Zhengtian Media, amongst other unannounced investors.

Savage will portray a frustrated US businessman Frank Dreibelbis who tries to solve his mid-life crisis by finding a gullible rich man to buy his bankruptcy-bound cheese factory, so that he can go to live in southern Spain.

He comes to Beijing and meets a Chinese investor (Ge You), an actress wannabe (Kelly Lin) and a mine owner seeking to escape justice. Unbeknownst to Frank, the characters he meets in Beijing also suffer from failing businesses and dysfunctional families.

Norway's Aasulv Wolf Austad serves as DoP while DJ Howie B serves as composer of the film. Former Iron Pond vice president Ben Ji serves as producer. Shooting started in late October and the film is scheduled for release in summer 2009.

Gasp is the second film backed by Shengshi Huarui, a film investment company set up by investorsin Beijing-based cinema circuit New Film Association.

Established in June, the company backed and produced satirical comedy The Debt Of 105,000 by first-time feature filmmaker Ji Yu. Zhengtian Media previously produced Ocean Flame by Liu Fendou and The Go Master by Tian Zhuangzhuang.