John Woo is planning to direct a film about the Flying Tigers – a US volunteer group that trained the Chinese Air Force to fly fighter planes during World War II.

Woo and producer Terence Chang’s Lion Rock Productions has signed an agreement with the Yunnan Province Propaganda Department, China Film Group Corporation and Beijing-based Fengde Dadi Culture and Media Ltd to co-develop the project. Shooting is scheduled to start in December.

The project is tentatively titled Fei Hu Qun Ying, or The Flying Tiger Heroes in literal translation. It will tell the story of the special team set up by Lieutenant General Clair Chennault in Yunnan Province and how it faught against the Japanese Air Force in Myanmar and South-West China.

Woo told local media that the film will involve three major air battles and he intends to represent the cooperative spirit between the Chinese and American volunteers fighting together during the war.

The film will reportedly cost $100m but Chang declined to confirm the budget. Lion Rock is currently seeking US co-producers for the project, which is being scripted by US and Chinese writers. 

No cast is attached to the project at this stage. Shooting will take place in Yunnan, Hunan and Henan provinces.

In addition to the Flying Tigers project, Woo is also producing and co-directing martial arts film Jian Yu Jiang Hu, to be directed by Taiwan’s Su Chao-pin and starring Michelle Yeoh, which is scheduled to start shooting in September. 

Lion Rock is also preparing two other Taiwan-based projects: So Close from Cheng Hsiao-tse whose Miao Miao screened at Berlin this year, and Penthouse from Cheng Fen-fen. Both films are scheduled to start shooting by the end of 2009.