Film based on Hi­gashino clas­sic set to hit screens

China Daily (Canada) - - NEWS CAPSULE - By XU­FAN

I need to dis­man­tle the orig­i­nal tale and re­build it in a Chi­nese way.”

In the late 1990s, it would be hard to imag­ine Alec Su be­hind a cam­era. Then, the Tai­wan star, who shot to fame with the band Lit­tle Tigers, was a heart­throb thanks to the hit tele­vi­sion se­riesMy Fair Princess.

But now, Su is leav­ing the spot­light to his cast as he aims to be a good di­rec­tor.

Su was in Bei­jing re­cently to talk about his sec­ond di­rec­to­rial fea­ture, The Devo­tion of Sus­pect X, a Chi­nese adap­ta­tion of Ja­panese au­thor Keigo Hi­gashino’s clas­sic novel with the same ti­tle.

The Devo­tion of Sus­pect X is widely re­garded as one of Ja­pan’s best crime nov­els.

The book, which has re­ceived a se­ries of awards in Ja­pan, the United States and the United King­dom, was adapted for film in Ja­pan in 2008 and South Korea in 2013.

Both ver­sions crit­i­cal ac­claim.

But for Su, the pre­vi­ous suc­cess has only added to his anx­i­ety.

“It (the film­mak­ing process) was very dif­fi­cult,” he says.

“I knewwhat was hap­pen­ing on­line, which put me un­der a lot of pres­sure.”

When Su was picked to di­rect the film ear­lier last year, many diehard fans of the book ques­tioned the Chi­nese in­vestors’ de­ci­sion.

Su’s di­rec­to­rial de­but, The Left Ear, adapted from Rao Xue­man’s name­sake com­ing­novel, got just 5.4 points out of 10 on the coun­try’s one of the most pop­u­lar re­viewsites, Douban.com.

So, given Su’s track record, many fans say they are un­sure if Su is qual­i­fied to han­dle the story.

“I’ve re­ceived some threats (from ne­ti­zens). Some­one said he would never for­give me if I ruin his fa­vorite novel,” says Su, smil­ing.

“But since the first trail­ers were re­leased, the sit­u­a­tion seems bet­ter. Some ne­ti­zens say the footage strikes the right note. It’s re­ally com­fort­ing.”

As for other good news: Un­like some films that use young stars — ig­nor­ing poor re­ceived per­for­mances — to max­i­mize profit, Su gotWang Kai and Zhang Luyi, both grad­u­ates from the Cen­tral Academy of Drama, China’s top act­ing univer­sity.

Wang be­came an A-lis­ter for his re­mark­able in­car­na­tion of an up­right prince in the hit se­ries Nir­vana in Fire. Zhang es­tab­lished his rep­u­ta­tion as a tal­ented ac­tor for the rev­o­lu­tion­ary se­ries The Red.

“I was lucky to get both of them,” says Su.

But he ad­mits that chal­lenges re­main. “I need to make a fa­mil­iar yet brand­new film. Many peo­ple have read the book. They know what hap­pens and how it goes. I need to dis­man­tle the orig­i­nal tale and re­build it in a Chi­nese way,” he says.

Hi­gashino, the au­thor, wanted the Chi­nese screen­play to be dif­fer­ent from the Ja­panese and South Korean ver­sions.

“Hi­gashino lives like a reclu­sive artist. Ev­ery time we sent him the script, it took nearly a month to get his feed­back,” Su says.

De­spite the prob­lems, Su be­lieves he has made a qual­ity, lo­cal­ized adap­ta­tion.

Wang Chang­tian, pres­i­dent of the Bei­jing-based pro­duc­tion firm En­light Me­dia, ex­plains the in­vestors’ se­lec­tion of Su.

“Su was once the cham­pion in an en­trance ex­am­i­na­tion to Tai­wan’s best high school, and later he was taken in byTai­wan’s best univer­sity. His ma­jor is me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing. I be­lieve Su is not only a star but also qual­i­fied and tal­ented,” he says.

The fea­ture, which is in post-pro­duc­tion, will be re­leased across the Chi­nese main­land on April 1.

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