|Nick Cheung wants Annie Liu for his directing debut in hopes for good box office performance|
courtesy of mingpao.com
Nick Cheung Ka Fai in 2009 with the film THE BEAST STALKER (JING YUN) won 7 Film Awards for Best Actor. This year with a challenge to his physical limits he with UNBEATABLE (GIK JIN) defeated two "Grand Masters" Tony Leung Chiu Wai (THE GRANDMASTER) and Anthony Wong Chau Sun (IP MAN THE FINAL FIGHT) for her second Hong Kong Film Award Best Actor award. Love to challenge himself, Ka Fai again challenged his potential and directed for the first time as he directed and starred in the ghost film HUNGRY GHOST RITUALS (YU LAN SUN GUNG). He even asked the "goddess" Annie Liu (Lau Sum Yau) to play the Cantonese opera diva.
Director Cheung did not spare the petite Sum Yau BB, asking her to perform different physical movements to express different possessions. Once he even asked Sum Yau BB to keep ramming the wall. However she still did as she was asked without any complaint. The goddess was so willing to take risks that Ka Fai was surprised.
Ka Fai joked that Sum Yau was soft on the outside and tough on the inside, a stubborn girl who never gives up. When she felt that she did not perform well, she would immediately said to him, "Director can I try it again?" Sum Yau awkwardly laughed. She said that the most difficult of the film was being possessed. When different ghosts possessed her, she had to perform different physical movements. It was quite a challenge. In one scene she had to keep ramming the wall. In another scene she was hung in mid air then she had to twist her body. Luckily she had training normally and practiced yoga, so her body was more limber. She was able to perform the twisting motion in mid air.
Ka Fai specialized in comedy. Many thought that his first film as a director would be a comedy. Just the opposite, he made a very scary ghost film HUNGRY GHOST RITUALS. Ka Fai explained that when he was little, it was the most glorious era for Hong Kong film. In full bloom, ghost film, action film and police film even became Hong Kong film icons. Authentic culture specialty film deeply influenced him. Now many genres have vanished; action film and police film remained, but ghost films were less and less. Thus he decided to make a ghost film. In addition its budget was relatively lower, suitable for a new director like him.
Ka Fai said that the biggest difficulty during the production was directing and acting. He was exhausted from both. He said, "The true production instead didn't run into too much difficulty. Ultimately I have made so many movies and worked with so many famous directors. I know how to make a movie. Of course as a director I still have a lot that I need to raise value on. Actually I am not ambitious about joining the director rank. Someone was willing to invest, actors were supportive so I might as well give it a try. In the future if someone would be willing to invest on me again, I would not be as greedy as this time. I would just direct and not act. I believed I would perform even better."
Ka Fai who treated the film like a test for a license felt that he passed this time. "After directing this time, I felt that (Johnnie) To Kei Fung, (Dante) Lam Chiu Yin and (Benny) Chan Muk Sing are very amazing. They have created so many quality films. They put a lot of bullets in my pocket, but I haven't learned to use them yet. Next time I will still need their help, listen to their opinions, but after mixing them together I will explore on my own and make my own decisions on everything."
Ka Fai's recent films have been box office guarantees. This time although his identity was different, he did not want to give himself too much pressure. He only wanted to finish something that he has always wanted to do. He even told everyone to relax a little. He did not vow to enter the blade mountain, had to hit on first try. He stressed that HUNGRY GHOST RITUAL was not a sloppy film, but viewers would have to determine if it is a good film. On the other hand, during the production he suffered from severe insomnia, worrying about his directing abilities and having endless fantasies. When he returned to his hotel room his mind still was racing. He lost sleep every night. In addition he was afraid of ghosts, he was afraid of running into something "dirty"!