(L-R) Amyra Dastur, Disha Patani, Jackie Chan, Stanley Tong, and Muqi Miya.
The cast and director of the Sino-Bollywood action comedy, "Kung Fu Yoga" includes multi-talented martial-arts expert as well as filmmaker Jackie Chan, his frequent collaborator director Stanley Tong, China's Yoga goddess Muqi Miya, and Bollywood actresses Disha Patani and Amyra Dastur.
The movie marks the sixth time that Stanley and Jackie have worked together in a film, and it also marks the international debut of Disha Patani and Amyra Dastur.
Filming took place at several places in China including Beijing and Xi'an, and also in Dubai, India and Iceland.
Scheduled to be released on 26 January 2017, the movie is about a Chinese archaeologist who teams up with two Indian professors to locate India's lost Magadha treasure in Tibet.
Cinema Online managed to catch Jackie and the rest of the "Kung Fu Yoga" team as they chatted away about their new movie to look forward to this Chinese New Year.
Cinema Online: Is "Kung Fu Yoga" based on a true story?
Stanley: Yes, it is based on true story. It is about a Chinese ambassador who went to India during the Han dynasty. Based on that, I created the same characters in the myth, about archaeologists that go treasure hunting.
The film is an amazing collaboration between India and China, so how do you ladies feel working with Jackie Chan?
Disha: Amazing. Like everyone else, we both grew up watching his films, from "Rumble in the Bronx" to "Rush Hour" and "The Karate Kid".
Amyra: A lot of his movies were played on the television every day, like literally!
What was your initial reaction when you were offered a role in this film?
Amyra: I was like "No way!" I didn't believe it when my casting director told me that I got a part in the film, because previously he gave me this script in English, and it was weird because we usually do it in Hindi. So I was like "Why do I have an English script?", but he didn't tell me why, and one month later, he called me and told me that I actually auditioned for a Jackie Chan film and I got the part, so he asked me to go to China and shoot the movie. And I'm like, "Wrong number, dude!"
Disha: I was actually really scared when I found out that I've been selected. Like I hope that I don't mess anything up or do anything embarrassing. I can't believe that I was actually going to star along with Jackie Chan! I still remembered the first day when I shot a scene with him, I was so star struck. I was like a kid watching her hero.
Amyra (left) and Disha talking about their experience.
What about Muqi Miya, what was it like working with Jackie?
Muqi: It is a joy and it's like being in a big family. Jackie has taught us so many things, and it was a bit hard for us to slack in front of him because he's so strict. I've also seen him shoving food to everyone on set, so he's basically like a father to us.
Jackie, what are your thoughts on this film?
Jackie: It's hard to say because I've been working for 56 years, and every film for me is the same. I try to make better movies every year, try to come up with different themes, story, action and comedy, as it is the only way for me to thank my fans all around the world who supported me all this time. I don't know how many more years I can continue making movies, but I hope that I get to shoot more movies that I like, and bring smiles to the people.
Also, congratulations for being the first Chinese ever to win the Oscar honorary award.
Jackie: While we're on the topic, I've told people that the reason I got an Oscar is not what I did this year, or what I did last year, it is what I did 56 years ago. Many years ago, as a cheap comedy action star, it is hard for people like me to even win an award. I never even thought of winning any sort of award, because the ones who win awards are always those literary and art people who makes films with beautiful scenes and sad stories. Nevertheless, I always give my all in every single one of my film. I even dare to risk my life to deliver stunts and comedy for all the people in the world.
As my movies began to reach a wider audience, I started to change my approach because I noticed that I also have a lot of younger viewers. So I started shooting healthier films that cater to all ages and is suitable to all family members.
Jackie Chan talking about his Oscar award.
Director Stanley, after so many years of working with Jackie, was there anything particularly difficult about this collaboration and also this production?
Stanley: I've worked with Jackie for so long. 25 years ago, we worked on "Police Story 3" which was shot in Malaysia.
Jackie: Wow, you remembered?
Stanley: Yes, I remember. There're a lot of memories.
So working with Jackie for so many years, I realised that each film we worked on was hard. Because for every new film, we would need at least 5 to 7 new action sequences that were never done before. So it gets harder and harder working with him.
So after watching this film, I realised that this movie has 10 action sequences even though when I wrote it originally, it was planned to be only 5. I was happy that I have 10 original action sequences, but I then realised that this means that I need to come up with more action sequences if I were to work with him again in the future!
But I'm really happy that I get to work with Jackie once again because he's like a mentor to me, and I also grew up watching his films.
I also heard that Disha went swimming with Jackie in Iceland to shoot a scene for 8 minutes, can you tell us about that experience.
Disha: It was kind of a cold privilege. It was really cold, and when you're shooting with Jackie Chan, you can't expect everything to be easy and smooth. We were shooting under the waterfall in Iceland. Anywhere in Iceland is so cold for us because we're not use to that kind of cold temperature.
Then, the director asked us to go inside the water which was freezing! We were shooting for quite long, and I was dying from outside, inside – I was dying from the cold! It looks nice when you see it, but it was really difficult for us to shoot the scene, because even for Stanley and the whole crew, they were literally frozen. It was really cold, but they all took good care of me, and I survived.
Jackie: Well, I'm not fine because when she's cold everybody took care of her but nobody took care of me! [laughs]
Director Stanley, which country do you find hardest to shoot the action scenes at?
Stanley: It's really different. Like Iceland, I really liked the place a lot. But all the scenery that we shot there wasn't actually allowed to be shot. The cold there was a huge factor and the security is tough as well. But you just need to be creative and have a second choice, like if you don't get permission, try to do it another way.
So me and Jackie have the same manner towards these things, we will never back-off. If we think the idea is good, we will try to execute it and make it happen.
The director and cast at a press conference held at The Majestic Hotel, KL.
Can you tell us about the lion scene, is it real?
Stanley: It was both real and animated. I'm very lucky that the princess of Dubai was willing to borrow me her lion for the shoot. She loaned it to us for a week. First we shot it in a cage, and then in front of the green screen, and then in the car. It's really hard to put a lion in the car. But it's even harder to put Jackie in the car after the lion was already in there! So when the lion and Jackie was in the car, it was very difficult for me to say cut! [laughs]
Jackie, how is it like to learn Bollywood dancing under the guidance of Farah Khan?
Jackie: Farah Khan is an amazing director. I've never seen a female director like her who can yell at more than a thousand of people on set!
Was it hard learning the dance moves?
Jackie: There're two kinds of dance routines, one is the easy one and one is the difficult one. When I learned the Bollywood dance for the first time, they taught me the difficult one which is the classic number. It was really difficult. So I told Khan that the dance is too hard and not a lot of people can follow.
Amyra: It was slightly difficult even for us. But he's really good at it.
Jackie: I want everybody to be able to dance to it. I feel that it is important for people to be able to join in as well. Now that we've already put the dance video up on social media, a lot of people in China have already started learning the dance routine in "Kung Fu Yoga".
Cinema Online, 24 January 2017