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Shanghai: Renny Harlin to Direct Chinese Actioner ‘Operation Somalia’

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The project will be the Hollywood veteran’s fourth Chinese-language feature to go into production in only three years.

Beijing transplant Renny Harlin, the former Hollywood-based director best known for 1990s action hits like Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger, has signed to direct the Chinese action-thriller Operation Somalia.

The project will be Harlin’s fourth Chinese-language feature to go into production in three years. Earlier on Sunday at the Shanghai International Film Festival, Harlin announced his attachment to The Hanging Coffins, an action-thriller he will direct for Shanghai Film Group.

Budgeted at $30 million (RMB200 million), Operation Somalia will be co-produced by Mythological Universe, Mailang Pictures, Jindun Film & Television Center of the Ministry of Public Security. The project is set to begin shooting in China and Australia in April 2018. It is produced by Zhiyuan Zhang, best known for Go Princess Go.

The film’s story, based on true events, revolves around an epic rescue operation against Somali pirates, mounted by the Chinese special forces.

Harlin came to China three years ago to direct the Jackie Chan action-comedy vehicle Skiptrace, co-starring Johnny Knoxville. After that project went well — it earned $136.6 million in the Middle Kingdom last year— Harlin decided to fully relocate to Beijing to further explore opportunities in the growing Chinese industry. His second Chinese feature, the fantasy martial arts film Legend of the Ancient Sword, has already completed shooting and is due out from Jack Ma’s Alibaba Pictures later this year.

“We are excited to be working with Renny Harlin, who is the master of hard-hitting action films,” said the project’s lead producer Zhiyuan Zhang. “He has now solidly established himself in China.”

Harlin said: “I love working in China and Operation Somalia gives me the type of canvas that a filmmaker can only dream of. Mr. Zhang has put together an exceptional production, and having the support of Jindun Film & Television Center of the Ministry of Public Security is an honor to our team.”

“The story is based on real events and some real-life characters, and offers a spectacular canvas,” said Harlin. “The action will literally take place on land, sea and in the air.”

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