Acclaimed Hong Kong filmmaker Tsui Hark is gearing up tostart shooting his next feature as director - the US$12m wuxia epic Seven Swords which is scheduled to startproduction next month.

Hong Kong stars Leon Lai and Charlie Young are headliningthe cast of the film which is also expected to feature talent from China andKorea. Veteran action director Lau Kar-leung, whose credits include suchkung-fu classics as 36th Chamber OfShaolin and Eight Diagram PoleFighter, is overseeing the action sequences.

Based on the martial arts novel by Liang Yusheng, Seven Swords Of Mount Tian, the filmrevolves around a group of swordsmen as they attempt to rescue Ming Dynastyrebels who are being killed off by Qing forces. Tsui's Hong Kong-based FilmWorkshop is co-producing with Beijing Ciwen Digital Oriental Film & TVProduction Co and South Korea's Boram Entertainment. Hong Kong's Mandarin Filmsis handling international sales.

Production on the film is scheduled to start in the desertsof Xinjiang Province in Western China in September and continue until the endof the year. However, Tsui is also producing a TV series based on the samematerial which will take around nine months to shoot.

Renowned as a major innovator and master of the actiongenre, Tsui Hark has not directed a feature since Black Mask 2: City Of Masks in 2002 - a long interval by Hong Kongstandards - but he's produced several projects in the interim, including The Era Of Vampires, directed by WellsonChin, and Marco Mak's Xanda.

For a while he was attached to direct Media Asia's Initial D but parted ways with theproject earlier this year. He also served as a member of Quentin Tarantino'sjury at this year's Cannes.