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Legend of the Ancient Sword II
This film is the latest in the production of big budget features between the film professionals of China and Hollywood.

There is continual growth in the Chinese film industry. Far from taking work away from Hollywood and other film centers, it's actually having the effect of creating more work.

Not only does China dwarf other countries in terms of sheer numbers in their film going public, but it also has respect for the professionals of long established artists both behind the camera and in front of it. Hollywood director Renny Harlin's feature film Legend of the Ancient Sword II is one of the most recent examples of "Hollywood meets China" to the beneficial outcome of both. Recognized as the most successful Finnish film director in the history of Hollywood, this award-winning director's filmography includes more than a few productions that we all know.

From Die Hard II to The Long Kiss Goodnight (starring Samuel L Jackson and Geena Davis) to his work on the twice Oscar nominated Rambling Rose, Renny has worked with some of the biggest stars in the world. The same intensity that finds Bruce Willis fighting for his life or is seen in Laura Dern's life lessons was afforded by the director to cast members Leehom Wang, Victoria Song, and others in Legend of the Ancient Sword II.

The story of this film is epic. Yue Wuyi studies the magical arts of Yan under the revered master Xie Yi. On a mission to procure his master's ring, Yue Wuyi meets Xia Yize and Wen Renyu who are also on a quest for this ring. Though initially combatants, the trio joins forces. The group finds themselves continually fighting the schemes and conspiracies of Shen Ye, grand priest of the alien city Liu Yue who cultivates an alien tree capable of absorbing human souls for energy. The trio must find four ancient items to form a powerful sword to defeat vicious power and save humanity.

Legends of the Ancient Sword II takes full advantage of the modern possibilities technology has afforded filmmakers. Asa big visual effects 3D production, numerous scenes combine fantasy and reality in a seamless manner for the benefit of the audience. One scene finds Xia Yize and Ah Ruan trapped in a painting which is accidentally torn in the "real" world. The result inside the painting world is that of trees erupting into fire, crumbling mountains, even a tsunami. These type of scenarios and others required the extensive use of green screens and VFX. Renny Harlin had a distinct approach he wanted for the shots and worked closely with on-set editor Yuan Liang to ensure it was manifested. Yuan reveals, "From our first meeting, Renny communicated that he didn't want a typical Hollywood or Hong Kong martial arts approach. Instead of close ups with punches and kicks, his vision was wider-longer shots. Along with the performance of the actors, I need to use a lot of imagination to cut the scene for best pacing and most importantly, to make each action make sense. Because it has comedic moments, I wanted to find the organic humor existing between lines and the characters' unconscious little movements. This builds interesting moments naturally and makes it easier for the audience to fall in love with the characters. One of the major things which Renny and I discussed was the 3D delivery of the film. I paid specific extra attention to pace the scenes better so the film would be comfortable enough to watch in 3D on a big screen. I also wanted to create chances to use shots with depth in focus. These movements and the objects flying towards the audience create best 3D watching experience."

In the vein of so many American hit films which combine action and comedy with cutting edge VFX, Legend of the Ancient Sword II is a larger than life tale that is at its heart simply fun. The story will thrill viewers but its greatest contribution may be that it gives continued credence to the notion that filmmakers from different cultures are increasingly sharing their talents to create new work that has global appeal.

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