Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Andy Lau rarely appears in Hong Kong lately.  The vegetarian remains handsome
Andy Lau would put thoughts into bringing his character to life and would not just play the hunk
Even his fingernails are ruined.  Would Andy Lau fans be heart broken?
As everyone is on the road home for the Spring Festival, Lei Zekuan continues to look for his son alone and suddenly breaks down.
Andy Lau trusts Peng Sanyuan very much, they have a common idea and want to bring attention to the social problem of selling children.
Andy Lau turns from actor to investor and tells the director to pay him after the film breaks even
Andy Lau (right) and Jing Boran talk about their pain of looking for their families.  The heat makes breathing difficult but he still insists on finishing in one take
Andy Lau plays Lei Zekuan whose bag never leaves his side because it is everything he has
Jing Boran takes Andy Lau all over the country to look for their families, with laughter and tears on the way.
courtesy of mingpao.com

Does anyone miss Andy Lau Tak Wa? In the past year everyone only seem to be able to find his whereabouts online; suddenly, a dark and thin Mainland farmer worker Lau Tak Wa appeared in the mountains and everyone thought that they just looked similar. Actually he snuck into the crowd for the Mainland film LOST AND LOVE (SUT GOO). In the film trailer, the always handsome Lau Tak Wa became down and out. For a moment no one was certain whether he was a real farm hand or our Heavenly King Lau. Luckily, in real life Lau Tak Wa remains cool. Wa Jai said, "Although I went from the lead in the beginning to one of the investors later due to the production going over budget, as long as this film is able to bring everyone's attention to the sale of children we would save a child, a family. This film then has value."

Perhaps some still feel that Lau Tak Wa has to play a hunk in movies, but this time instead the investor Huayi's boss Wang Zhonglei was the one who was very suspicious about how Lau Tak Wa would play the farmhand? He even hoped that the director would not cast Wa Jai because he worried that he would not be convincing. In the end director Peng Sanyuan's persistence moved them to break through their own thinking.

"But Wa Jai you are a Best Actor, how do you trust a new Mainland director to completely change Lau Tak Wa?"

He said, "The most primary is the script subject, in the 60s and the 70s Hong Kong had many kidnappers. Now in the Mainland the sale of children has become a very severe problem. Director Peng Sanyuan asked Lau Tak Wa to perform not because she wanted to make a hit film, but because she felt that only Lau Tak Wa as its star would bring everyone's attention and cause a response. The audience would care and be concerned about this social problem, not to break up other people's family selfishly just for themselves and turn children who originally had a happy family into lost orphans. Because of this belief of the director, I would have to support her production."

He understood that his farmhand character Lei Zekuan lost his 2 year old son, then spent 15 years all over the country and still never gave up on looking; for the character he revealed that he was in the sun for 7 days and went on a diet. He said, "Since working on Zhang Yimou's film, when I work in the Mainland I paid attention to the little workers (extras) around us. When they spoke, they definitely would add 'Brother you...' or 'Sister you...'. often they looked older than me but were actually younger than me. At the same time, all the little workers had a bag that never left them. Thus in the film Lei Zekuan carried his bag inside his jacket, always protecting it because inside was all the missing person notices of his son and other children, his identification documents and a little charge, which were already his everything." Wa Jai even truly got old clothing and shoes from farmhands to wear. He said, "I wore those clothes for 3 months, only because of the plot they washed them once."

"Wa Jai, I notice that your fingernails are all dark and chipped."

He nodded. "right, farmhands can't possibly have perfect hands. I chipped my fingernails with a plow. Since I was Lei Zekuan I had to completely enter his life. Many said that he gave up a lot for this film, but actually this was not giving something up but was for interest. For example Chi Wai (Eric Tsang) would never be late to play golf no matter how early it was."

Wa Jai only mentioned to the director it was very adventurous for "Lau Tak Wa" to shoot a street scene, but the director felt that she would be able to handle it and even asked Wa Jai to shoot a scene at the train station during the Spring Festival travel season. When a mass of humanity were rushing home for a reunion, he was looking for people in contrast. On the first day of the shoot, when the cameras were set up 1,000 fans gathered. The shoot was halted 4 times due to heavy crowding and suffered serious losses. The director almost wanted to give up. She finally experienced the pain of getting Lau Tak Wa to shoot a street scene. Wa Jai said, "Once (Ann) Hui On Wa blocked an entire street in Beijing, after driving the crowd away all day the shoot wasn't done in the end. (Johnnie) To Kei Fun in the end had to construct a street set for BLIND DETECTIVE (MAN TAM). This time I again brought this production pain that they would never forget."

Originally director Peng Sanyuan expected to finish LOST AND LOVE in 40 work days, in the end they shot for over 80 days. "So you kept going?" He asked, "Should I have left?" With the work days more than double, the production budget also increased in folds. Wa Jai said, "Thus later I went from an actor to one of the investors. I told the director after the film breaks even she can then pay me back!" Because of a good boss like Lau Tak Wa, many directors' dreams came true.

"This is not a movie that just wants to bring tears, but reflects a real social condition. Losing a family member is already very tragic, but spending a lifetime to find the family member, persisting while knowing fully that there will be no result, this belief is hopefully worth everyone's consideration. As long as this film can make the criminals commit one less crime, we then save one person. This film then has its value." Lau Tak Wa now makes movies not to win a Best Actor award or bring any honor, but for charity. That is his goal.

Wa Jai has both fame and fortune in the film world, but he has also suffered bumps and bruises from investing in films. However his passion for film has not been hindered. Now he still gladly invests in film productions to turn many directors' scripts into real films. However when will he invest in a film that he will direct and fulfill his own directing dream?

Wa Jai nodded. "My directing dream is to make a Hong Kong subject comedy like FAT CHOI SPIRIT (LEK GOO LEK GOO SUN NIN CHOI). Because everyone has done very well with other subjects, I feel the Hong Kong comedy influence can reach the greater Chinese region. Yet due to the investment, often times it turns into co-productions and accommodates Mainland market tastes; the one that is made just for Hong Kong seems to be only the GOLDEN CHICKEN (GUM GAI) series every year. As far as I know Hong Kong film still is unable to influence Mainland china now. Yet some comedy can." Every year no one gets tired of watching the re-run of comedies like FAT CHOI SPIRIT and ALL'S WELL ENDS WELL for a laugh, but these films were at least over 10 years old. Indeed, Hong Kong comedy once influenced the Greater Chinese market. The audience was still looking forward to Hong Kong comedy, and to be able to continue play an major role in the Greater Chinese region.

Wa Jai and Jing Boran in the film both went on the road to look for their families, one looking for his son and the other his parents, after awhile together they formed an almost father and son like feeling. Wa Jai in order to keep Jing Boran from feeling the distance just from looking at "Lau Tak Wa" began to communicate with Jing Boran a month before the shoot. He learned that Jing Boran burnt his calf on the motorcycle exhaust pipe in one scene, the level of injury was described as "cooked" and thus he could not bathe; Wa Jai then told Jing Boran that when he made DAYS OF BEING WILD (AH FEI JING JUEN), he originally played Ah Fei. For the role he had to learn to ride an European style old motorcycle, at the time he also accidentally burnt his calf on the exhaust pipe. Later during the shoot he played a cop instead and the burn still remained. He and Jing Boran then compared wounds and Jing's was 4 times larger than his. Wa Jai even covered his wound with the water proof bandage from Hong Kong so he could bathe; he originally wanted to tell Jing Boran to shave his leg before apply it, but he realized that he had no hair on his leg.

After that, Jing Boran was no longer afraid of "Lau Tak Wa". Wa Jai said, "On and off screen I slowly closed the gap between us, sometimes I would tell him some dirty jokes so he would feel that we were very close, that I was Lei Zekuan and not Lau Tak Wa." In another scene at the bath house they talked about looking for their families to put them into a father and son like relationship. Despite the high heat in the bath house, Wa Jai insisted on finishing the shoot in one take; although he was dizzy from the heat, he indeed was able to make the audience feel the intimacy from trusting each other on the road of looking for families for those were have lost people.

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