Village Roadshow, China Film and Beijing-based exhibitor Wanda Group are understood to have reached a deal to finance Keanu Reeves’ martial arts project, Man Of Tai Chi, which will mark the star’s directorial debut.

Budgeted at around $25m, the Mandarin and English-language film will shoot mostly in China as a Sino-foreign co-production. Reeves will also star along with his kung-fu mentor and The Matrix series stuntman Tiger Hu Chen. Other cast members are still being finalised.

Production is scheduled to start at the end of the year, according to sources in the project’s production team.

The film’s mainland China distribution will be shared between China Film Group and Wanda Film & TV Media, the newly-established film and TV production company under Wanda Group.

Wanda’s exhibition chain, Wanda Cinema Line, is China’s highest-grossing cinema circuit with 71 cinemas and 600 screens across the country. The company hired a new management team early this year to step into film and TV production. It plans to develop and invest in several international co-productions in the coming year.

Australia-based Village Roadshow, which has a US production office and invested in The Matrix with its co-production partner Warner Bros, has recently established a production office in Beijing.

China Film Group previously financed Tiger Hu Chen’s 2009 Chinese-language action film Kung Fu Man. 

Reeves is best known in mainland China for The Matrix series and has a huge fan base across the Chinese-speaking world due to films such as Speed, Constantine and The Devil’s Advocate. He recently finished filming 47 Ronin, Universal’s adaptation of the Japanese martial arts picture.