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Donnie Yen's 'Monkey' business…

Rumble in the jungle… Donnie Yen is at the heart of the 'Monkey King' movie, now scheduled for a 2013 release…

Donnie Yen looks to be having quite a busy year ahead of him with several high-profile projects.

In 2010, production began on director Soi Chiang's (Accident, Motorway) big screen adaptation of the legend of the Monkey King, starring Donnie Yen, Aaron Kwok and Chow Yun-fatt. The Monkey King was shot in IMAX 3D and employed visual effects talent from Hollywood personnel who had worked on films like I Am Legend and Spider-Man 3. Filmko have finally announced a release date of July 4th 2013, which could see it going head to head with Stephen Chow's Journey to the West, another take on the Monkey King legend.

The premise of the film has been issued:

Ever since the beginning of time, it was the deities who had maintained the order of the heaven and earth. However, owing to their evil predisposition, the demons weren't content with being subservient to deities all the time. To take the controlling power from deities, the leader of the demon tribe, Buffalo Demon King mounted an attack against the deities in heaven, but he lost out to Jade Emperor of the deity tribe at last and was expelled to Flaming Mountain on earth. Though the battle was drawn to a close, heaven was left in ruins and rubble. For the sake of harmony among deities, demons and humans, the goddess Nuwa turned herself into multicoloured crystals with which she mended heaven. To protect heaven from demonic ambush again, she also built the South Heavenly Gate with the same crystals. The Gate was imbued with strong divine magical power so that any demonic being coming close to it would vanish into ash. Despite the utmost care she used, Nuwa dropped one of the crystals fell to the earth leaving an opening on the Gate. As the crystal fell, it gathered the solar and lunar energies throughout hundreds of thousands of years and it turned into a celestial foetus. A divine monkey was born at last and he was the pivotal figure related to the security and safety of the heavenly palace.

This divine monkey has exceptional innate talent and intelligence. He learns magic from the Old Master Puti, the magic tricks to ride on flying cloud, freeze people's action and transform himself into 72 different beings. Meantime, a giant wall of water hit Flaming Mountain, where Buffalo Demon King lived. The Demon King knew it was time to pull off his plan to attack heaven by playing the divine monkey off against heaven, so that he could take the controlling power from the deities.

The first official artwork for the film has been released and also a new teaser, giving a glimpse at what to expect from a project Donnie Yen has called one of his 'most challenging' for the intensive five hours of daily make up needed to transform him into the title character. The films post-production has been supervised by actor turned Executive Producer Michael Wehrhahn, and we'll be talking to him about the project in the next few months.