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May 29, 2017

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Three Kingdoms 三國之見龍卸甲

The star-studded cast and crew of "Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon'' saw the world premiere of the Korean film project Monday at CGV Yongsan Theater in central Seoul. Superstars Maggie Q and Andy Lau and directors Daniel Lee and Sammo Hung sent a buzz through the city as reporters and fans gathered for the exclusive event before its release across Asia.

Korea and China bring an ambitious war epic inspired by "Romance of the Three Kingdoms.'' The 600-year-old epic novel by Luo Guangzhong is one of the most important literary pieces in China and is also a classic read in Korea.

The film marks many firsts and challenges for the makers. Korea's Taewon Entertainment, which handled sales and post-production scripting, calls it a "global'' project that goes beyond being a Korea-China collaboration. It is aimed for wide release outside of Asia.

"We spent a really long time,'' said director Lee, the martial arts maestro of films like "Dragon Squad.'' "It's a dream come true,'' he said.

"Three Kingdoms'' presents historical fiction from a different angle, with Zhao Zilong as the protagonist instead of three sworn blood brothers.

Andy Lau, a household name in many Asian countries, had fans waiting for him outside the theater. He plays the role of Zhao, a commoner-turned-general remembered as an undefeated hero in Chinese history.

"It's such a well-known story, so I was very nervous, but I think audiences might like it,'' said Lau. About portraying a historical figure, he said it was tough. "There are three perspectives on Zhao historians' professional knowledge, how normal people like us remember him and his character known through a popular computer game. I can't satisfy all these, but I tried to stay true to the script,'' he said.

During the 17th century, China remains divided and Zhao fights for the Shu Kingdom's unification efforts. After decades of victory but still no unification, an aged Zhao faces his final battle against warring state Wei.

Maggie Q, the sexy star of Hollywood blockbusters like "Die Hard 4.0" and "Mission Impossible 3,'' stars as Cao Ying, a vicious female warrior heading the Wei kingdom.

"I came to this project as an outsider, not really understanding the history of it, not speaking the language and not having any background,'' said Q, who had to not only pull off demanding action sequences but also learn Mandarin and pipa, a traditional string instrument. "I'm not a musician, not even close¡K It was a cause of a lot of stress. I would go to sleep crying,'' she said with a hearty laugh. "I feel myself more clumsy and not so feminine and so I just had shut Maggie off for a while and be this person and really believe it.

"It was probably the most difficult film I've done yet,'' she said, adding "everything attracted me about the role and the film.'' Despite her initial doubts and fears, her "love and respect'' for the director enabled her to follow through.

About the rough battle scenes, she said "It's tough being in these guy movies, I feel like I'm always in these guy movies, I really want to do a chick flick.'' It's easy, she said, to be overshadowed by the strong talent and presence of actors like Lau. But like her character, who must emulate a man, she said "I got to feel like that in this industry, where you sort of wish you could just be a woman and relax and be happy but it takes a lot of strength to be where you are.''

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