Stuntman dies in bizarre fire filming John Woo epic

John Woo (2nd L) poses with cast members (from L-R) Hu Jun, Lin Chi-ling, Tony Leung, Zhao Wei and Chang Chen during a photocall for the film "Red Cliff" at the 61st Cannes FIlm Festival May 19, 2008. REUTERS/Christian Hartmann

BEIJING (Reuters) - A stuntman filming John Woo’s new movie in Beijing was killed in a bizarre fire when a small boat rammed into the set of an ancient warship, state media said on Tuesday.

At least three people were injured in the accident during the shooting of the battle epic “Chi Bi”, or “Red Cliff”.

“The fire broke out early Monday morning when the crew were shooting a scene in which a small, smoking boat crashed with a large ancient war vessel,” Xinhua news agency said.

At the point of collision, at which machines let out smoke, an unchoreographed flame jumped 30 meters (yards) into the air, the Beijing News said, citing crew at the northern Beijing location.

Woo, director of such hits as “Face/Off” and “Mission Impossible II”, was in Hong Kong at the time of the accident.

The film, adapted from China’s classic novel “Romance of the Three Kingdoms”, is set in 208 AD in the dying days of the Han dynasty, culminating in the battle of Red Cliff in which 2,000 ships were burnt.

It stars Hong Kong’s Tony Leung, the Chinese mainland’s Zhang Fengyi and Takeshi Kaneshiro, whose father is from Japan and mother is from Taiwan.

Reporting by Beijing newsroom; Editing by Nick Macfie