Chan, EMG nurture new talent
By Winnie Chung

HONG KONG -- JCE Movies, a company formed last month by Jackie Chan and Emperor Multimedia Group principal Albert Yeung, is embarking on aggressive strategy of nurturing new local talent with two movies to be helmed by first-time feature film directors Stephen Fung and Kenneth Bi.

Fung's $2 million "Enter the Phoenix" is slated to start shooting at the end of the month, while Bi's $1 million comedy "Hainan Chicken Rice" (working title) is expected to start shooting in Singapore in mid-November.

"The vision of JCE is to work on films of different genres and to nurture new actors and directors. And Jackie wanted to achieve that not only locally but around the world as well," said Solon So, senior vp at Chan's JC Group, who oversees JCE with Chan's Hong Kong manager, Willie Chan. "We're looking for projects and talents with potential and not just projects to make money."

Chan and Yeung hold equal equity in JCE Movies, which operates separately from Yeung's EMG, which recently released Chan's "The Medallion" and "Twins Effects." EMG is expected to handle Asian distribution and marketing for JCE on a fee basis.

JCE also is currently shooting "New Police Story," which is being helmed by "Heroic Duo" director Benny Chan. All three films are distributed by EMG in Asia and have been picked up for international distribution by Australian sales agency Arclight Films.

"Enter the Phoenix," an action comedy revolving around Hong Kong gang characters including a gay gang boss, stars local stars Eason Chan, Daniel Wu and Karen Mok.

"Chicken Rice" will be the first full-length feature for Bi, who previously directed film festival favorite "A Small Miracle" in digital format. The film, about a mother who tries to cope with the suspicion that one of her sons is gay, will feature award-winning actress Sylvia Chang and chef Martin Yan. It is being produced by Hong Kong-based Kenbiroli Films and Singapore's Ground Glass Images and is co-financed with the Singapore Film Commission and other private regional investors.

"We're mainly looking for Asian projects, but we're not just looking at the domestic market," So said. "With 'Enter the Phoenix,' we are hoping to go worldwide. With 'Hainan Chicken Rice,' we see it as a product more for a targeted Asian audience."

So added that the company was currently in negotiations with overseas investors like Canada's Telefilms for possible collaborations. JCE also is talking with other more experienced directors, including Ann Hui ("July Rhapsody"), Barbara Wong ("Truth or Dare: 6th Floor Rear Flat") and Stanley Kwan ("Lan Yu").

Chan has been busily increasing his equity stakes in key entertainment companies here in the past few months, most recently taking a 7% stake in distributor-exhibitor Golden Harvest at the end of August.

Chan said at a recent press conference that he intended to "spend more time" making films for the Asian market alongside his American projects, which most recently have included "Shanghai Knights" and "Around the World in 80 Days." Slated for the actor in the coming year are Media Asia's "Time Breaker" and a guest appearance in Mandarin Films' "Sword Searchers."