Crouching tigers, hidden Toms.

The fight began almost a year ago. John Woo was zeroing in on a project called 'Flying Tigers,' detailing the Chinese Air Force during World War II. Then rumors started bubbling that Tom Cruise was interested. We asked Woo, who revealed that while he wanted to work with ol' Tommy again, it was his understanding that Tom's camp had another script. "I still need to find out," Woo said. "I don't have much to say about it."

He probably has something more to say now, as word hits that a battle is brewing. On one side, there is Woo and Terence Chang. On the other, New Regency, 20th Century Fox and Tom Cruise. 'Flying Tigers' (both projects have the same name) lies in the middle and it's become a race to see which one hits production first.

Deadline reports that both sides are working on their same-titled projects, with Woo prepping an IMAX debut as Kirk Ellis steps into the Fox camp to rewrite a draft written by 'Valkyrie' scribe Christopher McQuarrie and Mason Alley. The projects focus on the struggling Chinese air force during the second World War, before the U.S. entered the fray. Their planes were too old to hold up against the Japanese forces, but then American volunteers nabbed some American-made P-40 War Hawks to fly side-by-side with the Chinese, their planes painted with giant shark's teeth (though they were called the "Flying Tigers").

It seems Cruise has been eager to play a pilot in a war movie, mixing a little 'Valkyrie' with 'Top Gun,' and obviously, he wants it enough to try to sneak the project in before his 'MI:2' director can get going, which would most likely leave the slower project shelved. But if that's the case, Cruise's team would have to work really, really fast. Woo's slated to begin production on his China/Hollywood co-production this spring.

It seems rather silly to fight for one story, especially when the war offers a lot of great pilot stories -- like, say, the Kosciuszko Squadron of Poland, which began the RAF's first all-Polish Squadron and played an important part in the Battle of Britain. But why pick another story when you can battle?

Cruise v. Woo. Can both features fly? Will one tank?

CATEGORIES Movies, Cinematical