While it has been a slow week for comicbook film fans, Columbia Pictures dropped a bombshell late yesterday afternoon with the announcement that not only would Hong Kong comic actor/director Stephen Chow, of Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle fame, was signed to star alongside Seth Rogen in an adaptation of the 1930s and `40s radio hero the Green Hornet, he has also been signed to direct the film, his first English-language picture.
Chow will star as Kato, the Green Hornet’s sidekick, and driver of the Hornet’s tricked out car, the Black Beauty. Rogen will star as newspaper publisher Britt Reid, who fights crime behind the masked identity of the Green Hornet and who finds himself at odds with the police almost as much as he does with criminals. In the short-lived 1960s series, Kato was played by a young Bruce Lee.
Personally, this is about as exciting as the news that Sam Raimi had been chosen to helm the first Spider-Man movie. Chow’s directorial eye, as evidenced in the action scenes of Shaolin Soccer and Kung Fu Hustle, is imaginative and energetic. He also mixes comedic and action beats flawlessly in his films. Which is really my only reservation. The material of the Green Hornet doesn’t really lend itself to comedy or camp. When Rogen was first chose to write and star in the film, there was some concern that he would make it a comedy.
Ironically, when the producers of the campy 1960s Batman television series adapted the Green Hornet as a weekly series, they chose to go a more straight-faced route than the uber-popular Batman series and The Green Hornet, despite introducing Lee to America, only lasted one season. Would a Green Hornet film with a more comedic bent survive in a market where other comic book-based films are becoming more serious? I know that when Rogen’s involvement was first announced, he stated that the film would definitely be an action film as oppossed to a comedy, so my fingers are crossed that they are staying true to his word.