TRUST the Japanese, with a little help from the French, to think of mixing film and mime. That is the idea behind Image Cine Circus - a pantomime tribute to cinema, coming to the Cultural Centre from Thursday to Sunday. Created by the Tokyo-based Mugon-Geki Company, Image Cine Circus spoofs famous characters and scenes from popular films. Included are Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton, a drag-queen Marilyn Monroe and a Tour de France version of the bicycle ride from ET.Superman, James Bond and other favourite icons are also part of the show. Mugon-Geki was founded in Paris in 1976. But the troupe's producer and director, Ikuo Mitsuhashi, moved the company to Japan in 1981. The troupe's manager, Atsuko Nonogaki, said: ''When Mugon-Geki first started performing in Paris it was an international group - from Korea, France, America and Japan - later Ikuo created another company in Tokyo with only Japanese performers. ''Ikuo had been in Paris for 10 year s. He had become interested in the circus and circus tricks. He learned a lot about it. And then, when he came back to Tokyo, he began thinking about how he could mix elements from the circus with his love of film.'' For its domestic audience, Mugon-Geki parodies Japanese film: the director Ozu - known for his penchant for lotus-position camera angles - is a favourite. But for international audiences, the Japanese references are less obscure. ''Kurosawa is one of the greatest film directors in Japan,'' Nonogaki said. ''So we chose Kurosawa because we thought he would also be famous in Hongkong. Also, for this show, we tried to find things that we thought the Hongkong people would find interesting - something like kung fu, for instance. And so this show is very much a Hongkong version.'' The Kurosawa sketch is taken from Seven Warriors. In it, performers fight the sound of wind until a Kurosawa character steps out and yells: ''Cut.'' He gives an acceptance speech from the Cannes Film Festival - miming the actual recording - and leaves. His ''actors'' are then blown away in the recurring wind. The pairing of Chaplin and Keaton also makes perfect sense. In this sketch, Chaplin flirtatiously tries to attract Keaton's attention. He is constantly rebuffed - sometimes violently. In the end, though, the two fall into a kind of love. In France, where film and mime are revered, the pantomime of Mugon-Geki has proved popular. The post-film festival performance of Image Cine Circus at Cannes in 1991, for example, was particularly well-received. The troupe has toured extensively in Europe but the Hongkong shows mark the first time Mugongeki has performed in the Asian region, outside Japan.