Toei's Firefly (Hotaru), a feature about Word War II kamikaze pilots starring Japanese screen legend Ken Takakura, is finally ready to go before the cameras after months of delay.

Toei intended the film as a tentpole release for the New Year season but dropped it from its line-up when negotiations with Takakura over the script started to drag. The distributor rushed to plug the gap with Kinji Fukasaku's Battle Royal, a drama about a murderous game in a near-future Japan.

Firefly is now set to begin principal photography in December with Yasuo Furuhata directing and Daisuke Kimura serving as cinematographer. Together with Takakura, this is the same team that produced Railroad Man, Toei's biggest hit of 1999 with film rentals of nearly $20m. Firefly is scheduled for release in the summer of 2001.