Tomorrow begins the big ten-day countdown to finishing the first half of the shoot, our sojourn here in Montreal. We then move to the desert north of Beijing to shoot the epic ending battle where the Terracotta Army takes the field once more. There are over 700 visual effects shots in the film and a good percentage of them will take place in the last twenty minutes of the movie. I am still on schedule, which is as much a miracle to me as to the studio brass. There have been many days of elation and many moments of pain but, overall, it has been a shoot of smooth flow and meticulous detail. I've been editing behind myself because in a large VFX movie like this, I have to turn over sequences to Digital Domain and Rhythm & Hues, our two VFX houses, before the whole film is cut, or shot for that matter, just to make the delivery date in early July.
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Jet Li plays a despotic Emperor in 50 B.C. whose evil is punished by a terrible curse laid on him by wizardress Michelle Yeoh: he and his army are turned into to terra cotta for all time; that is, unless he is re-awakened which, of course, is where the O'Connells come back into it.
The story moves to the year 1946. When we find them, Rick (Brendan Fraser) and Evelyn (Maria Bello) are retired to Oxfordshire, England, having been spies for the British during World War II. They are bored silly and welcome the offer of "one last mission" from the Foreign Office. Their assignment: courier a precious artifact back to the museum in Shanghai, China from which it was stolen.
Back to Asia: China is in turmoil but Jonathan (John Hannah) owns an Egyptian-themed bar in Shanghai. Unbeknownst to his parents, now grown-up Alex O'Connell (Luke Ford) is following in the family business as a young archaeologist on a dig in north-central China. He makes the discovery of a lifetime: the tomb of the Dragon Emperor, which has been buried for millennia. A beautiful assassin (Isabella Leong) tries to kill him to keep the location secret but Alex prevails. The Emperor's monument is transported back to Shanghai where another plot is in motion: military zealot Anthony Wong intends to awaken the Emperor and aid him in the re-conquest of China and the raising of his terra cotta army of ten thousand clay warriors.
The family is reunited and high adventure ensues: crash landings, treks thru the Himalayas, Yeti, avalanches, Shangri-la, three-headed dragons, pools of eternal life, epic battles, a shape-shifting Jet Li.
The film opens August 1st, 2008.