Alleged Hollywood Movie in Cambodia

In Uncategorized on March 18, 2011 at 4:50 pm

Is it real? And, why hasn’t ANYONE done any follow up?

By Antonio Graceffo


In the Fall of 2009, a man named Thomas Magyar held a press conference in Phnom Penh, where he announced that he was going make a 70 million dollar Hollywood movie, in Cambodia, starring Jet Li, Angelina Jolie, John Cena, and South Korean movie actress Song Hye Kyo. The film will be called, “Great Khmer Empire,” and will chronicle the life of King Jayavarman VII, the completer of Angkor Wat, and the patron of the Khmer martial art of Bokator.


Xinhua News Agency apparently ran a story about the press conference, and that story has run all over the internet. It is featured on a countless blogs and web magazines around the world.


But when I tried to find more information about the project, I found that the only story that exists is the one from Xinhua. All of the other sites just have copies of the story. No one else seems to have done fact checking or a direct interview with Thomas Magyar before reprinting and distributing the story.


The Xinhua article doesn’t actually say what company Thomas Magyar works for and there doesn’t appear to be a website devoted to the film. Neither does Magyar have a personal site nor a site dedicated to his production company. His job title, in the Xinhua piece is “project manager” a term I have never heard of in the movie industry.


All of the reprints and various incarnations of the single story from Xinhua claim that this is a Hollywood movie. But, if Thomas Magyar lives and works in Cambodia, and is raising the money to make the film himself, how is this a “Hollywood” movie? Hollywood generally likes to be involved in Hollywood movies. By definition, Hollywood movies are made by Hollywood film production companies, directed by Hollywood directors, starring Hollywood actresses, and they enjoy national and international Hollywood release. This film doesn’t appear to have any of these attributes.


In the Xinhua story, there is no mention of any Hollywood studio which is involved in the project. When I checked with Khmer media friends, I was informed that Thomas Magyar has yet to apply for film permits. Neither has Magyar or his team contacted the Cambodian film fixing company who did the fix for “Tomb Raider.” There don’t seem to be scouts on the ground in Cambodia. According to other Khmer sources, Magyar stated first that he was making the 70 Million dollar film, but then said he was still raising money.


In paragraph one of the Xinhua article, it says Thomas Magyar has Jet Lee, Angelina Jolie and John Cena on board, but the second paragraph says they are “targeting” these people. Which means, not only do they not have these people on board, but these people are most likely not even aware of the project.


From what I know of Angelina Jolie, she is not going to act in a no-name, international movie without Hollywood distribution. She also doesn’t usually star opposite John Cena. I am sure John could beat me up, and he is a good wrestler, but when it comes to acting…


A Khmer website in the US has already started a pole to see if Khmericans oppose the fact that King Jayvaraman VII will be played by a white guy, John Cena. There are also numerous Khmer and Khmerican videos on youtube, talking about the movie. I have seen blog and forum posts where people have clearly mistaken these videos for proof that the movie exists. Actually, these fan-videos only prove that other people believe the movie exists.


Since we have already established that the film is not a Hollywood movie, then what is it? Thomas Magyar come from Hungary. So, I guess this is a Hungarian film. To date, I am unfamiliar with any Hungarian film with a 70 Million dollar budget. Neither has there ever been a Hungarian movie with widespread international distribution. Finally, there has never been a Hungarian film with a cast of top, international stars.


There is a first time for everything, BUT so far, the story makes so little sense I can’t believe anyone is buying into it.


Movie scams are nearly as old as movies themselves. Everyone gets excited by Hollywood and the chance for wealth and fame. People get so caught up in the moment, that they forget to do basic fact checking. The easiest way to find a producer these days is to see if they are listed on (International Movie Database).


I checked IMD but there is no listing for Thomas Magyar.


They do, however have a listing for Gábor Forgács, who is listed as the director for “Great Khmer Empire”. And the project is listed as, “in development”. Which is Hollywood speak for “It isn’t actually happening yet, and maybe never will.”


IMDB only had Gábor Forgács listed as having directed a single, Hungarian, movie: “Dream Well (2009)” a Hungarian film, starring world-famous luminaries, such as Lilla Labanc, Kinga Czifra, and Ádám Csernóczki.  There was only one review on IMDB.


And it was less than flattering. “User Reviews: I’m sorry I spent 90 minute of my life watching this movie.”


Not quite the track record we could expect from someone who is about to direct a 70 Million Dollar “Hollywood” movie.


I feel protective of Cambodia and the art of Bokator, and hate to see anyone take advantage of my friends. One reason I have written this article is as a warning to them, not to get suckered in. But, my secondary reason for writing this article is to scold the bloggers, Khmericans, and ethnic media who reprinted or rehashed this preposterous story. Why didn’t you fact check? Why didn’t you logic check? Why didn’t you call and ask Thomas for an interview? Why did you believe this story in the first place?


As always, I am bracing myself to be attacked online for writing a negative article related to Cambodia. But that just makes me question more. If you can muster the energy to attack me, for brining you, what I believe to be the truth, why couldn’t you use some energy to verify this story?


Brooklyn Monk, Antonio Graceffo is a martial arts and adventure author living in Asia. He is the author of the books, “Warrior Odyssey’ and “The Monk from Brooklyn.” He is also the host of the web TV show, “Martial Arts Odyssey,” which traces his ongoing journey through Asia, learning martial arts in various countries.


Warrior Odyssey, the book chronicling Antonio Graceffo’s first six years in Asia is available at The book contains stories about the war in Burma and the Shan State Army.







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