After developing a taste for action in The Twins Effect, Hong Kong singer-actresses Gillian Chung and Charlene Choi have signed up to star in action comedy Black Roses (working title), to be co-directed by Donnie Yen and upcoming director Barbara Wong Chun-chun.

Carl Chang, the former CEO of Emperor Multimedia Group (EMG), is producing the film with backing from prolific producer-distributor, Universe International Holdings. Chang, one of the producers of The Twins Effect while at EMG, left the company earlier this year to set up his own production outfit, Virus Productions.

Described by Chang as a combination of Austin Powers and Batman, the film is loosely based on a series of Hong Kong films from the late 1960s about a costumed female crime fighter, "the Black Rose". Not to be confused with the Masked Crusader - portrayed by Michelle Yeoh in upcoming action title Silver Hawk - the Black Rose films have already been parodied in Jeff Lau's '92 Legendary La Rose Noire.

In Yen and Wong's modern-day version, a former Black Rose, played by veteran actress Teresa Mo Shun-kwun, sets up a training camp for the next generation of crime fighters. The cast also includes Hong Kong idol Ekin Cheng who plays the girls' token male sidekick.

Production on the US$4m film is scheduled to start November 8 for release in Hong Kong and China in February or March next year.

Yen served as action director on The Twins Effect and impressed audiences by transforming pop stars Choi and Chung - known collectively as Twins - into convincing vampire slayers. Wong drew notice earlier this year for her debut feature, Truth Or Dare: 6th Floor Rear Flat, a comedy about a group of twenty-something roommates.

The Twins Effect, produced by EMG and sold internationally by Australia's Arclight Films, is currently the top-grossing local film in Hong Kong this year with a gross of US$3.6m. Chung and Choi are attached to star in a sequel which is expected to start shooting in February next year.