Anyone who may have doubted the ability of fresh-faced pop duo Twins to kick serious butt in an action movie appears to have been proved wrong, at least if box office success is anything to go by. Emperor Multimedia Group (EMG)'s The Twins Effect, starring Charlene Choi Tsoek-jin and Gillian Chung Yan-tung as sword-wielding vampire slayers, has pulled in more than $27 million at the Hong Kong box office and overtaken The Matrix Reloaded as the highest-grossing film of the year. The blockbuster action comedy - which features an extended guest appearance by Jackie Chan - has also had strong openings in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, and rolls into Indonesia this weekend. As the film has been snapped up by Universal Pictures International and Columbia TriStar for several Western territories, the wholesome twosome should also be making their debut in the United States and Europe - although whether on the big screen or the video shelf remains to be seen. It should therefore come as no surprise that a sequel is already in the works. The film's producer, Carl Chang, who recently quit his post as chief executive of EMG, is developing the second instalment through his new production company, Virus Productions. EMG is again financing, but this time is looking for other investors to share costs. The first movie was budgeted at US$6 million (HK$46.8 million) - a considerable outlay for a Hong Kong action movie - and Chang says the sequel's budget may be even higher. Of course budgets depend on casting and other talent and it's still too early to confirm who will be involved. 'Twins will be there, but as for the rest we're still working on it,' says Chang. 'Obviously we'd like to stick with the same team if that's possible.' Chang adds that he's called in Koan Hui - who co-wrote Tsui Hark's Time And Tide and Daniel Lee's Black Mask - to work on the script and hopes to start production before the end of the year. Chang is developing several other films through Virus which, as the name suggests, was set up during the Sars crisis. He plans to co-produce a film with the king of romantic comedy, Joe Ma Wai-ho, which he describes as 'a tribute to a very famous comedian from the past' and which will be released to coincide with next year's celebrations of 100 years of Chinese cinema. He's also talking to Peter Chan Ho-sun about collaborating on a biopic of Joanna Tse Yuen-man, the doctor who died trying to save the lives of Sars patients, although the project is dependent on securing the support of Tse's family and the church. Meanwhile, Bey Logan, associate producer on The Twins Effect, has also flown the EMG coop to set up his own company, Shankara Productions. Sydney-based Arclight Films - which is handling The Twins Effect's international distribution - has appointed Logan as its representative in Hong Kong, with the aim of finding local movies to sell overseas or co-produce. This could be good news for local filmmakers, as Arclight has already proved its considerable clout in selling Hong Kong movies to the West. The company is already behind Kung-Fu Master, a martial arts adventure written by Logan, which will also involve British and Canadian partners. Separately, Logan is working with Mandarin Films on The Sword Searchers and Dragon Tiger Gate - both adaptations of comic books created by Tony Wong Yuk-long. Donnie Yen Ji-dan, responsible for the highly entertaining action scenes in The Twins Effect, has also been linked to Dragon Tiger Gate, although his involvement hasn't been confirmed. Jackie Chan - who along with Yen is The Twins Effect's international calling card - is currently shooting Around The World In Eighty Days in Germany, but will return home later this summer to work on Media Asia's Time Breaker and is expected to make a guest appearance in The Sword Searchers next April. The Twins Effect's director, Dante Lam Chiu-yin, is also busy with a sequel to his 2001 action picture Hit Team, which is set to start shooting this month with Aaron Kwok Fu-shing and Eason Chan Yick-shun in the lead roles. The current flurry of activity suggests the resilient Hong Kong film industry is fighting back after its recent woes. The Twins Effect is a timely morale booster and coincides with a package of concessions from the Chinese government - part of the mainland/Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement - which Hong Kong producers to access the mainland film market more easily. According to Alvin Lam, chief operating officer of Universe International Holdings, the studio behind Hit Team 2, the trade agreement will boost Hong Kong film production and encourage SAR firms to invest in mainland cinemas. 'We believe the future of the Hong Kong film industry is very bright,' he says.