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Asian kung fu queen diversifies into film production
Mon Jul 29, 1:07 PM ET

By Carrie Lee

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Asian martial arts star Michelle Yeoh, heroine of Oscar-winning "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," is making her debut as a producer in her new film "The Touch."

"It is my first attempt. I'm a total rookie," Yeoh told reporters Monday. "It's been very exciting. I think the most important thing is that it's been a great learning experience."

Yeoh is the lead actress and a co-producer of the US$20 million English-language action movie, directed by "Crouching Tiger" cinematographer Peter Pau who won Best Cinematography at last year's Oscars ( news - web sites) for the martial arts epic.

Co-starring Ben Chaplin, "The Touch" debuts in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia on August 1 as part of its global release.

Yeoh, who is already planning to produce another film, said an actress had limited impact on a movie.

"Basically you can explore your character. You can't really influence the entire film to the max. But as a producer, you can start from an idea and take and run with it from there and make it a reality," the Malaysian-born actress said.

"What I've really found challenging and particularly stimulating is the marketing of a film. How do we come up with this to create that awareness, being in everyone's face and getting everyone excited about it," she added.

"The Touch," an adventure set in contemporary China, surrounds a religious relic that was hidden at a mysterious place by the monks of Dunhuang, an historic city in Gansu province in northwestern China, more than 700 years ago.

Yin (Yeoh) and her lover Eric (Chaplin), together with Yin's brother and his girl friend, embark on a hazardous journey to rediscover the relic.

The adventure takes them from Qingdao in eastern China to the deserts of Dunhuang and then to the Potala Palace in Tibet.

The movie is expected to be released also in Thailand and Taiwan later this month, and in the United States and major European countries around Easter next year.

Yeoh, who played James Bond's girl in "Tomorrow Never Dies," shot to greater fame after "Crouching Tiger" won four Academy Awards ( news - web sites) in 2001.

Yeoh, 39, is planning more martial arts epics.

"We have about five scripts that are being done right now. The one that's closest to my heart is Hua Mulan," said Yeoh.

Hua Mulan was a pious daughter in ancient China who pretended to be a man to serve in the army so that her father could be exempted from military service.

"I will play Mulan and I will also be a producer of it," she said.

"Mulan is going to have all the elements -- the love, the drama, the country," she said. Reuters/Variety

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