Director JohnWoo is to present the new restoration of Jean-Pierre Melville's LeCercle Rouge, theclassic 1970 heist thriller that will be seen in US theatres for the first timein its complete and original French-language version early next year.

Rialto Pictures,which enjoyed considerable success in the US with the re-issue of Jean LucGodard's Contempt,has planned a nationwide run of special engagements for Le Cercle Rouge, starting at New York's Film Forumon Jan 10.

Starring AlainDelon, Yves Montand and Gian Maria Volonte as heist partners who plan a raid ona Parisian jewellery store, Le Cercle Rouge was restored in Paris by StudioCanal andshown earlier this year as part of the Cannes Film Festival's first'Heritage' section.

Le CercleRouge was thepenultimate film and biggest box office hit for the late Melville, king of theFrench gangster movie. It had only a brief release in the US, under the title TheRed Circle, in a versionthat was dubbed into English and cut by 40 minutes. The 2003 release will bethe complete, unseen 140-minute version with new subtitles by Lenny Borger.

Woo, whoseHollywood filmmaking credits include Mission: Impossible II and Face/Off, described Le Cercle Rouge as 'a classic gangster film by thecoolest, most stylish auteur of his time.'

Said Woo:'Melville's style and message move with his actors as they deliver theirsoulful performances, and the romantic values of friendship and brotherhoodexpressed in this movie are hard to find anymore. There is no mistaking thatthis is a Melville film, as all of the elements synchronise to his vision. Ihave long admired Melville for his spirit and his movies. He has had a greatinfluence on my work.'