Thursday, August 20, 2009


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Jeff Lau Chun Wai says, at his age he should not randomly get mad.

Yet when a youngster in Beijing asks him, "Director Lau, do you feel your KUNG FU CYBORG can compare to Hollywood special effects?" His rage still runs deep! Lau Chun Wai says, "Five years ago, I saw someone named Liu Xiang. He won China's first track and field gold medal. For decades people laughed at China's track and field behind their backs, but still many anonymous heroes continued to work hard and train all for that honor. Now a Chinese tries to make a special effect film, you haven't even seen it yet how can you make a judgement so soon?"

Lau Chun Wai's goal is not be better than others, but taking a step forward.

"Americans' creativity may not necessarily be better than mine, at least my robot knows kung fu. We took ten punches from others, today Chinese returns one punch. Is that OK?" Director Lau at this moment is at even temper, smiling like A CHINESE ODYSSEY (SAI YAU GEI)'s Buddha as he adds.

Stephen Chow's Bottleneck Savior

Speaking of rage, people are very easily reminded Stephen Chow Sing Chi who has an unusual relationship with Lau Chun Wai. You do not have to be in the industry to know that Sing Yeh's rage on the set. Insiders say, Lau Chun Wai is the most qualified to be Chow Sing Chi's psychiatrist because he is the most able to settle Sing Yeh's temper. Some even say that during KUNG FU HUSTLE, Lau Chun Wai's duty is to "comfort" Chow Sing Chi on the set. What ability does Director Lau have to capture someone else's mental state and mood? "Perhaps it's destiny, or related to our development. We met when we started, we both had to work to get to where we are. Today you may be higher up, but don't play arrogant with me. Everyone remember what those days were like. Chow Sing Chi's wonderful relationship with me is when his performance life reached a bottleneck, I very naturally would appear. He went to television to film and for years flowed around. Then he made my ALL FOR THE WINNER (DOH SING) and became Hong Kong's highest gross lead actor. Before making CHINESE ODYSSEY he hesitated again, but in the end he still believed in me and created another Chow Sing Chi for everyone to meet." Later Chow Sing Chi made THE LUCKY GUY (HUNG WON YUT TIU LUNG) and THE TRICKY MASTER (CHIN WONG JI WONG 2000) everyone understood that Sing Yeh reached another bottleneck. "In 99 he approached me. During SHAOLIN SOCCER script creation I resolved certain problems for him. Thus he again developed a new face and opened up the Asian market. Then he wanted to break into Hollywood and wanted to make KUNG FU HUSTLE. I really didn't help him much, I was just on the set to settle his judgment. Maybe with me there his mind was more at ease. He knew someone would say some very difficult to hear but beneficial words, which is what he didn't have around him. I don't know how to grasp his state of mind, just that we have a trust between us!"

As for the team of Lau Chun Wai and Chow Sing Chi, we still cannot forget A CHINESE ODYSSEY's endless love that touches us and still makes us cry every time. Has Directr Lau's mood cooled? "I am still shedding tears when I watch it! Back then I was silly to make this movie, I can't stop crying, ha. Looking bac k when I finished this movie, I suffered a huge setback. At first I thought I wrote a very outstanding script, but people scolded my head off. I could only put this emotion into OUT OF THE DARK (WUI WON YEH) and apply himself into the character. Chow Sing Chi after the shoot said, 'X your lung, I've playing your mood?'" In other words, Lau Chun Wai's setback mood after making A CHINESE ODYSSEY is Chow Sing Chi's OUT OF THE DARK wandering madness? "Right! Everyone think they are geniuses. Actually the entire world is calling you an idiot, please go back to the mental institution to rest." Lau Chun Wai laughs.

Text: Ringo
Interview: Ringo, Ben
Photo: Alan
Location: Hotel Panorama

Not Romantic Yet Not Cult?

In SAVIOR OF THE SOUL (91 SUN DIU HUP NUI), A CHINESE ODYSSEY, A CHINESE TALL STORY (CHING DIN DAI SING), we saw Lau Chun Wai scattering different levels of romantic atmosphere, yet he strongly objects that he is a romantic person. "I always say I am not, but people keep on asking me. When everyone say I am, I am forced to admit it. Yet I can't remember doing anything particularly romantic for my wife." Lau Chun Wai continues, "For example many people classify my films as cult films, but I never think like that. I watched Cantonese films since I was little, I have that nostalgia. In 92 LEGENDARY LA ROSE NOIRE (92 HAK MUI GWAI DUI HAK MUI GWAI) when (Tony) Leung Ka Fai sang until he bumped the metal gate close, I got the inspiration from watching Yam Ki Fai waiting for his execution in the chamber when I was little. Fong Yim Fun came to visit him, they cried and sang for several minutes. Yet I realized that the prison's barrier was so wide that even Tam Lan Hing could pass through it. It was frustrating but also funny. I feel this type of tragic comedy is very interesting. When I grew up I made it back. I don't understand why people say it's cult."

After Several Decades of Filmmaking, So What?

Lau Chun Wai not only watched Cantonese films but also Peter Pan, Superman, Old Master Q, then in 2000 when he watched other people's SPIDERMAN he realized why China did not have its own hero. Later he saw TRANSFORMERS and he was inspired to make KUNG FU CYBORG. "Honestly, I fell asleep halfway through TRANSFORMERS, not because it wasn't good but because I wasn't in great shape that day. I of course like TRANSFORMERS because it is trendy enough. I also understand that children and adolescence would like it." Lau Chun Wai also understands that in order to make KUNG FU CYBORG, special effect is a very important part. "If you ask me what the difference is between China's science fiction special effects and Hollywood's, I would say if Americans have to work with this amount of funding, they definitely don't know how. On the other hand if you give me a lot of funding, I may not be able to achieve their effects. This time I asked Centro Digital for special effects. We have worked together on A CHINESE ODYSSEY 2002. Faye Wong and (Tony) Leung Chiu Wai's horse racing scene already used special effects. We also worked together on KUNG FU HUSTLE. This time with KUNG FU CYBORG we tried to use all CG space. The biggest problem was every move and shot actually were the animator's responsibility. The animator became the director. Thus over this half a year I kept teaching this group of special effect technicians how to make a movie. If they are not certain about the lead's emotions and action, how can they make it? The film industry has a strange phenomenon, it likes to say after decades of filmmaking we are like this and like what? Theirs is another industry called special effects, which does it have to do with your decades of filmmaking? I have seen cinematographers who teach people how to pull wires as soon as they get on the set, they are TEACHING! NOT ASKING! This is an order. This is just naive. Conceivably 80% of all of China's directors cannot clear up this relationship. My purpose is to build a bridge between two industries. Hollywood has it long ago, in China this may be the first."

Due to special effects, did he think about working with forefather Tsui Hark? "He of course is the trailblazer. I don't eliminate this possibility, but right now I have no plan. I remember once he approached me and (Corey) Yuen Kwai to talk about special effcts. We went to his house for big crabs. In the end, we left after the crabs, haha."

KUNG FU CYBORG's trailer dispalys its fantasy, action, special effects, and a funny yet romantic love story. You can say that you have no idea what it wants to express. Lau Chun Wai says, it is a science fiction subject background in a merger iwth love. Both are just as important. Yet from the costumes, Ronald Cheng Chung Kei and Alex Fong Lik Sun indeed stand out on their own. "In the film Cheng Chung Kei indeed does very well, but he has always performed comedy. Everyone feel that he should do well. Fong Lik Sun hasn't always been doing it. When he does well the audience adds points. Instead Hu Jun suddenly does comedy, he would open the eyes of many other people."

Does today's Cheng Chung Kei remind the director shades of Chow Sing Chi in the past? "No, they are two different types of people, interpreting two different types of stuff. Even if Cheng Chung Kei is more famous, conceivably no one would compare him to Chow Sing Yeh; just like no one back then compare Chow Sing Chi with (Michael) Hui Koon Man."

The Story Returns Hollywood One Punch: KUNG FU CYBORG

The story takes place in the year 2046. A high tech research center creates an artificial intelligence robot K-1 (Fong Lik Sun). The chief (Eric Tsang Chi Wai) in order to ensure its safety sends K-1 to a small town for testing and assigns a police captain Xu Dachun (Hu Jun) to be its guardian.

K-1 in the small town with its abilities demonstrates the impossibilites at very turn and deeply attracts the object of Dachun's long time crush, co-worker Su Mei (Betty Sun Li). Dachun cannot reveal K-1's identity and can only hinder their development, but instead gains Su Mei's misunderstanding. On the other hand, Su Mei's sister Su Qing (Gan Mei) has a crush on computer teacher Xiao Jiang (Cheng Chung Kei). Yet Xiao Jiang likes Su Mei. The five sided relationship triggers off a lot of comedy.

Dachun in an arrest of the out of control robot K-88 (Jason Wu Jing) sacrifices himself to save K-1. K-1 decides to violate his directives and privately merges Dachun and K-88's bodies to bring Dachun "back to life". Chief Lin discovers the truth and sends zombie robot K-100 to capture Dachun and K-1. Su Mei never learns that her man is a robot. The fact is that K-1's programming prohibits him to be in love with a human, but K-1 in his self learning programming gradually falls for Su Mei......

Post Note Lau Chun Wai's Romance

We ask Directr Lau: what is the most lacking in Hong Kong film now?

Lau Chun Wai answers, "Good screenplay. Hong Kong film underestimates screenplay too much. Many screen writers are writing several screenplay while in poverty. How can these scripts be any good? I have tried to cultivate screen writers, but a lot of times as soon as they hear an idea they take it to sell it. They are like thieves and deserves to die! They made me very unbalanced mentally. I want to help people but I am being sold out!"

What is the screenplay that you are the most satisfied with?

"SAVIOR OF THE SOUL. Its writing broke a lot of rules. That was after ALL FOR THE WINNERS everyone thought I was the most confident but actually I was the most scared film. That unprecedented screenplay is the type that nowadays no one would make. Actually this type of films still have a lot of development potential......KUNG FU HUSTLE and SHAOLIN SOCCER are somewhat like its comic book style, but can't compare to its romance."

Romance, all the symbols are romance. Director Lau, do you still deny that you are after romance?

This Bruce Lee looking robot requires a model to perform in the heavy armor. Not only its mobility inconvenient, after hours it requires a break. "The robot is so inagile, is it difficult during the shoot?" Director Lau sneers, "This is purely for promotional purposes, I'd be dead if I rely on it for the shoot."

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