Chow Yun-at jumps off Red Cliff

When he ditched Hollywood for a return to Chinese filmmaking, John Woo probably figured that the days of budget problems, star issues and scheduling were now behind him, at least for one film.

Sadly, that particular pipe dream is just that - a pipe dream. Because his new movie, the impressively epic Red Cliff, has hit its second road bump in just a few short weeks.

His latest headache is Chow Yun-Fat dropping out of the film after only three weeks’ shooting. The situation appears to be a little complicated, but apparently Yun-Fat made “unreasonable demands” that mean the insurance bond company would not cover him. "We are reworking our schedule right now as we have to shoot around the absent leading man,” is what Woo’s producing partner Terence Chang told Variety. We’re guessing Chow asked for a special hat, double his salary and all the red Jelly Belly beans removed from the dish in his dressing room.

Okay, perhaps not: according to Yun-Fat, he only received the final script a few days ago and wasn’t sure he could do justice to the main character. His leaving the movie follows Tony Leung dropping out a month ago, worried that he wouldn’t be able to handle the six-month shoot.

Of course, if Woo wanted an easy life, he was probably wrong to try making a $70 million Chinese epic that will – if it ever gets finished – end up as a four-house movie split into two for Asian audiences and turned into a three-hour plus night at the cinema for us in the West.

Sounds like someone just broke a mirror while walking under a ladder…