John Woo's 'Red Cliff'

When Red Cliff (Part 1) rolled out across most of Asia in July, John Woo's historical action epic generated very good box office returns, and its recent release in Japan continues the trend. Topping the charts for the second week in a row, according to Variety, Red Cliff has earned more than $18 million so far.

Part 2 of the four-hour plus Red Cliff is due for January release in Asia, and an international (i.e. short) version is also being prepped for the beginning of the year. Theatrical distribution deals are set in Europe (France, Finland, Germany, Greece, the Netherlands, and Norway), with Summit Entertainment (distributor of Twilight and Sex Drive) handling international sales.

Still, no US distribution deal has been announced. What's holding things up? Will Summit take it on? Will North American audiences ever get to set Red Cliff on the big screen, where it clearly belongs? Or are distributors spooked by the prospect of marketing one more foreign-language action epic?

Red Cliff is based on the classic novel Romance of the Three Kingdoms; the title refers to the location of a battle involving more than a million soldiers that brought an end to the Han Dynasty in 208 AD, resulting in the division of China into three kingdoms. Tony Leung Chiu-Wai (Lust, Caution), Takeshi Kaneshiro (House of Flying Daggers), Zhang Fengyi (The Emperor and the Assassin), Chang Chen (Blood Brothers), and Lin Chiling (gorgeous Taiwanese model in her acting debut) star.