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`Rambo,' `Gangster' to spend time in Thailand

Location shooting begins as early as next month on projects for Sylvester Stallone and Denzel Washington.

October 27, 2006|From the Associated Press

BANGKOK, Thailand — "Rambo" is preparing to return from retirement in Thailand early next year, and Oscar-winning actor Denzel Washington will also come here next month to play a drug lord in "American Gangster," a Thai film official said Thursday.

Sylvester Stallone will spend several weeks in Thailand early next year, shooting "Rambo IV: In the Serpent's Eye" in the country's lush, mountainous northern provinces, said Wanasiri Morakul, director of the Thailand Film Office.

In the latest sequel, John Rambo is pulled out of retirement in Bangkok to help find missionary aid workers who disappear as they're delivering supplies to ethnic minorities in neighboring Myanmar.

About 70% to 80% of the movie will be shot in Thailand -- in Bangkok and the northern provinces of Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai -- earning Thailand more than $5 million, Wanasiri said.

She said that after a committee read the "Rambo" script, they gave the green light for the shoot in Thailand, but voiced concern that violence in the movie could reflect badly on ethnic minorities on the Thai-Myanmar border.

She also wanted the filmmakers to assure villagers and environmentalists that any bombing scenes would not harm the environment.

Activists were up in arms over "The Beach," shot in 2000 and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, complaining that a beach in a Thai national park was damaged during the shoot. The filmmakers denied it.

Washington will come to Thailand Nov. 8-13 to play Harlem heroin kingpin Frank Lucas in "American Gangster," about drugs smuggled to New York in the 1970s inside the coffins of American soldiers killed during the Vietnam War.

Only about 5% of the movie will be shot in Thailand -- in the capital Bangkok and in the mountainous north -- employing about 250 Thais and bringing the country at least $1.6 million, Wanasiri said.

Thailand has touted itself as an ideal film location and this year has hosted 372 shoots for foreign movies, TV series, ads and music videos, worth $37 million. Recent blockbusters shot partially in Thailand include "Alexander" and "Star Wars: Episode III Revenge of the Sith."

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