A LEADING Hong Kong director is to shoot the first foreign film made in North Korea - with 200,000 soldiers offered as extras. Jacob Cheung Chi-leung has been offered the army of extras for an epic about a small state defended by a disciple of pacifist philosopher Mo-zu against invasion just before the Warring States period (403-221BC). 'It is an anti-war film,' said Cheung, who shot to fame with his feature Cageman, which highlighted the plight of the impoverished bedspace dwellers. For the new film, he promises huge pitched battles similar to those in Mel Gibson's Braveheart. Shooting is to begin in late August. Its Cantonese title is Mak Gong. An English name has yet to be chosen. Although the story is set near Beijing, the film-makers have chosen a location close to the North Korean capital of Pyongyang featuring an ancient castle. They said the low cost of filming there would allow more shooting time than on the mainland. The North Korean offer to mobilise up to 200,000 soldiers for extras could give the film one of the biggest casts in movie history. It would be surpassed only by Gandhi, Sir Richard Attenborough's epic which is believed to have used more than 300,000 extras for the funeral scene. In comparison, Mel Gibson mustered 1,700 soldiers from the Irish Army for the fight scenes in Braveheart. The film team believe North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is taking an interest in the project. Mr Kim is a film enthusiast and James Bond fan, who is reported to have a collection of 20,000 foreign films in his palaces. Cheung's production company, Midas, has signed a joint venture with the April 25 Artists Film-making Company, a unit of the North Korean Army which carries its foundation date. A meeting was held with Pyongyang officials in Shenzhen last month after they were unable to obtain visas to visit Hong Kong because of security restrictions. A source close to the project said the food crisis in North Korea was unlikely to affect the film as soldiers continued to be fed and food was available for foreigners.