I was excited a while back when word came down that Hong Kong director Johnnie To would be remaking the Jean-Pierre Melville thriller Le Cercle rouge, and even more psyched to hear that he also had a new project going with Lau Ching-Wan (star of To’s interesting Mad Detective) called Death of a Hostage.

So I should be irritated to read that The Red Circle, which would feature Liam Neeson and original Le Cercle rouge star Alain Delon, remains stuck in development while shooting has stopped on Hostage. But the reason for both (in part, at least) is compelling enough: To has yet another film in the pipe. Vengeance, based on a script by Mad Detective writer Wai Ka-Fai and starring Simon Yam, Anthony Wong and French personalities Johhny Hallyday and Sylvie Testud will be about “a French assassin-turned-chef who comes to Hong Kong to avenge a murder.”

Vengeance has already begun shooting in Hong Kong, with a summer ’09 release likely. No solid word yet on what will happen to the other two films; hopefully they’ll proceed as planned. I still really want to see To’s take on Melville. (His explicit take, that is — he’s already referenced enough.)