(from left to right) Michael Chuah, Henry Thia and Monday Kang.
Arguably, many have been amazed by Hong Kong's martial arts movies due to their excellent choreography and creative stunt work. In the eyes of audiences, Hong Kong filmmakers had already set a benchmark for kung-fu movies in the movie industry and no other industry so far has managed to top that. However, other industries have never stopped trying, and their knowledge now is more than before. One such example is Malaysian director, Michael Chuah, who is also a former state representative in Wushu, is currently one of those filmmakers that are trying, and his directorial debut, "Fist Of Dragon", is a martial arts movie. Cinema Online recently had the chance to meet Chuah and his co-stars to talk about their latest production.
Cinema Online had an interview with Michael Chuah, Henry Thia and Monday Kang at TGV Sunway Pyramid, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Q: Michael, what inspired you to make this film? Chuah: When I was young, I used to be a huge fan of Jackie Chan and Jet Li's movies. I think that these days we rarely see local martial arts films in the cinemas. I want the audience to recall the excitement of watching a kung-fu film when they watch "Fist Of Dragon". Making this movie is like a dream come true for me.
Q: In the movie, you have scenes where you fought with more than 10 people. They are very similar to the fighting scenes in "Ip Man" and the media has been coining you as the second "Donnie Yen", what do you think about it?
Chuah: I'm thrilled with the compliment. Donnie Yen is already a legend in kung-fu films. I still have a long way to go in order to reach his level.
Q: According to sources, "Fist Of Dragon" was banned in China. Why and how did the production team deal with such news?
Chuah: First of all, I would like to express my disappointment with Chinese cinemas. They banned the movie due to the violence and use of triads. We had a tough time to persuade the censorship board in China. But we are not giving up as I'll be editing a new version of the film without the scenes which involve the triads and submit it to the censorship board again.
Q: Henry, we normally see you in comedies. What brings you the make an appearance in a martial arts movie like this?
Thia: (Laugh) Money! Actually I was attracted by the script as I was never involved in any martial arts productions before. Also, Michael had given me the freedom to portray my character anyway I wanted.
Q: When you got the script, did you expect yourself to be involved in the fighting scenes?
Thia: The director had discussed these issues with me before shooting. I can't fight so I preferred to be beaten by other characters. It's easier. However, I did have some fighting sequences with a group of people. In my opinion, fighting together is less frightening than hitting someone alone.
Q: Monday, this is your first movie in your acting career. What do you think about Michael's directing effort for "Fist Of Dragon"?
Kang: Yeah, I was excited to act in my first movie. Chuah is a very flexible director. Everything seems ok to him. Among all the casting auditions that I had been through, doing the casting with Michael is the easiest one. I just read the script, acted a few moves, and then Michael accepted me right away. Moreover, Michael had also recommended me to refer to Daniel Wu's evil character in "Shinjuku Incident", to help me play my character better.
Q: Do you have anything to say to your Malaysian audience regarding your new movie?
Chuah: It was a lot of pressure but I'm confident with our work. I hope the audience will like our film. We are targeting to reach five million at the box office. So, please support us!
Thia: We received good feedback from the Singaporean audience after they watched the movie. I hope the media here can write better reviews for "Fist Of Dragon".
Kang: The martial arts in this movie are incredible. The cast and crew had put a lot of effort in making this film. Hope to see you in the cinemas!
Cinema Online, 15 February 2012