Main­land au­di­ences los­ing in­ter­est in Hong Kong ac­tion movies

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE - By XU FAN

Sammo Hung hob­bles into the in­ter­view room on a crutch. He sits, look­ing ex­hausted and hold­ing a palm-sized elec­tric fan near his face.

For a mo­ment, it is a bit dif­fi­cult to con­nect this man with Hong Kong ac­tion cinema.

But speak­ing about his stunt coach­ing for Louis Koo — one of Hong Kong’s cur­rent stars — Hung is filled with ex­cite­ment.

“He fights well. Be­fore the film­ing, I de­sign the stunts and record the ac­tion scenes per­formed by (stand-in) stunt­men.

“Koo watches the clips and prac­tices them,” says Hung, speak­ing about the up­com­ing ac­tion thriller Para­dox.

The movie is set to open across the Chi­nese main­land this sum­mer.

Para­dox, which is the third in­stall­ment of the Sha Po Lang (re­fer­ring to three stars in Chi­nese as­trol­ogy, ca­pa­ble of good and evil) fran­chise — a hit ac­tion fran­chise ac­claimed for its real fights — marks the re­turn of Hung as an ac­tion chore­og­ra­pher.

Hung and Don­nie Yen — who be­came a top mar­tial arts star thanks to the first SPL movie — starred in the 2005 film.

But in the new movie, Hung says that he wants to fo­cus on ac­tion. So he chose to go be­hind the cam­era.

Wil­son Yip, the vet­eran Hong Kong di­rec­tor known for the bi­o­graph­i­cal mar­tial arts fran­chise Ip Man, has di­rected the new movie.

Yip made the first 2005 movie SPL: Sha Po Lang (re­leased in the United States as Kill Zone), but left the di­rec­tor’s seat for Cheang Pousoi in the 2015 se­quel SPL 2: A Time for Con­se­quences.

The lat­est film, set in Thai­land, sees Koo star­ring as a Hong Kong po­lice of­fi­cer in search of his miss­ing daugh­ter.

Yip says the ma­jor­ity of the scenes were filmed in Thai­land.

Be­sides Koo, the movie fea­tures Gor­don Lam, this year’s win­ner of the Hong Kong Film Award best ac­tor prize, as well as Chi­nese main­land ac­tor Wu Yue and Thai ac­tion star Tony Jaa.

Both Wu and Jaa, be­sides Amer­i­can ac­tor Chris Collins, are vet­er­ans of ac­tion films.

Wu, 41, be­gan to prac­tice mar­tial arts at age 5 and won a “Wuy­ing” ti­tle for kung fu ath­letes at 17. His years as a pro­fes­sional ac­tor in the Na­tional The­ater of China helped him pol­ish his act­ing skills.

Jaa, 41, with a Muay Thai boxer fa­ther, also started to learn mar­tial arts at a young age and has won a num­ber of hon­ors.

But de­spite the top tal­ents in the film Hung says the au­di­ence these days is not very in­ter­ested in typ­i­cal Hong Kong ac­tion movies.

The 65-year-old chore­og­ra­pher­ac­tor, who rein­vented the Hong Kong mar­tial arts genre, says: “The mar­ket is chang­ing.”

Now, young ac­tors can earn fame or profit through com­puter gen­er­ated im­agery.

“So, they feel that prac­tic­ing mar­tial arts, which is a tough process,is not worth it.”

Hong Kong movies were once fa­vored by Chi­nese main­land view­ers, but were over­taken by Hol­ly­wood block­busters and do­mes­tic hits pro­duced by main­land stu­dios.

Now, most lo­cal tal­ent have shifted fo­cus to co-pro­duc­ing movies with Chi­nese main­land film­mak­ers or work­ing for main­land films.


Sammo Hung (cen­ter), ac­tion chore­og­ra­pher of the up­com­ing thriller Para­dox, with Hong Kong ac­tor Louis Koo (left) and Amer­i­can ac­tor Chris Collins at a pro­mo­tional event in Bei­jing.

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