As I reported in December, Danny and Oxide Pang (Bangkok Dangerous, The Messengers) were hired to direct the sequel to action fantasy The Storm Riders. More details have surfaced at the Hong Kong Filmart, according to Variety. Filming begins next month with original stars Aaron Kwok and Ekin Cheng set to return; Simon Yam, Nicholas Tse, and Charlene Choi will also star. The picture will be the first Hong Kong movie filmed exclusively on blue screen, a la 300, though the budget is just $12 million, compared to 300's estimated cost of $65 million. The Storm Riders II is due for release at the end of 2009.

Variety is also reporting that the wonderfully versatile Gary Oldman is in "advanced negotiations" to star in Rain Fall, the "story of a hit man who is forced to protect the daughter of one of his victims against assassination by the C.I.A." If the deal goes through, Oldman would join Shiina Kippei (Shinobi) and actress Akiho Hasegawa. Max Mannix will direct the Japan-set thriller; veteran producer Satoru Iseki is employing "sophisticated Western financing techniques" to get the picture made.

We've been tracking World War II action epic Shanghai since last summer. Production was expected to start this spring in Shanghai, but the Chinese authorities denied the shooting permit after the Weinstein Co. had spent nearly three million dollars building sets. Variety says that production has now been shifted to Thailand and England, though there's no word on a new start date. The film will be directed by Mikael Håfström and stars John Cusack, Chow Yun-Fat, Gong Li and Ken Watanabe.