A famous Hong Kong action director is in an epic frame of mind. John Woo has not yet finished his two-part historical adventure Red Cliff, due out this year, but he has his next picture all ready to go. According to Variety, Woo will direct 1949, a romantic epic written by Wang Hui-ling (co-scripter of Ang Lee's Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Lust, Caution). Rising Taiwanese actor Chang Chen (Crouching Tiger, Blood Brothers) and Korean TV babe Song Hye-key (pictured) will star.

The film begins at the end of World War II and is based on real events that took place during the final years of the Chinese Civil War, right up to the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. Production is scheduled to begin in December, with release planned for December 2009 -- which is the 60th anniversary of the founding of a certain republic. The announcement was made in Cannes; Fortissimo Films will handle all rights outside China.

Woo stagnated in the studio system after a trio of entertaining action films (Hard Target, Broken Arrow, Face/Off ) that were much better than comparable Hollywood flicks. Having returned to Asia to make the epic Red Cliff, Woo appears ready to continue his career with more creative freedom, in partnership with producer Terence Chang. This sounds like the kind of film he should be making, with a quality screenwriter on board and two rising stars.