‘I FEEL BLESSED TO BE PART OF LEE’S BIOPIC’

Tosh Chan and Jake Eng play Datuk Lee Chong Wei in film, out next year. DEN­NIS CHUA learns more about them

New Straits Times - - Entertainment -

NEW ac­tors Jake Eng and Tosh Chan are count­ing their lucky stars. The two bad­minton fans, who idolise Datuk Lee Chong Wei, will be por­tray­ing their hero in his biopic, Lee Chong Wei: Rise Of The Leg­end, out in cin­e­mas early next year.

Jake, from Sun­gai Be­sar, Se­lan­gor, and Tosh from Jo­hor Baru, were se­lected by di­rec­tor Teng Bee from over 2,000 hope­fuls at the au­di­tions, which were held be­tween March and May.

Both of the “Lees” ex­cel in bad­minton, like the man him­self, though they had to brush up their skills be­fore film­ing be­gan.

Jake, 13, from SM Seri Be­dena, has rep­re­sented his school in state-level bad­minton com­pe­ti­tions. Like­wise, for 22-year-old Tosh, a barista in Sin­ga­pore and who stud­ied in SM Jo­hor Jaya 1.

“I feel blessed to be part of the movie! At first, the di­rec­tor told me I wasn’t cho­sen, and that up­set me — there was an­other boy who looked like a young Lee,” said Jake, when met at a press con­fer­ence to an­nounce the main cast of the movie in Kuala Lumpur, re­cently. Also present was Lee.

“I was crushed! But later, the di­rec­tor came back to me with won­der­ful news!” Jake added.

As for Tosh, Teng picked him be­cause he was the man who most re­sem­bled a 20-some­thing Lee.

“I jumped for joy, but soon found out that get­ting into Lee’s shoes was a real chal­lenge,” he said.

The boys un­der­went two months’ of bad­minton train­ing, 12 hours a day, to pre­pare them­selves for their role.

Teng roped in vet­eran bad­minton player Chan Chong Min to coach them to im­prove their bad­minton skills.

“We were film­ing in Bukit Mer­ta­jam, Klang and Kuala Lumpur, which lasted from July to Septem­ber,” said Tosh.

Teng said he chose Jake af­ter look­ing at photos of Lee in his teens.

“I no­ticed that Lee’s young face was rounder and he wasn’t as skinny as he is now, and that he looked more like Jake,” he said.

The di­rec­tor, who spent the last three years re­search­ing Lee’s life and ca­reer said: “Lee’s biopic may not con­tain ev­ery in­di­vid­ual who helped him — we’ve cre­ated char­ac­ters who are ‘com­pos­ites’ of real peo­ple.”

The big­gest dif­fi­culty Teng faced was the use of sports venues for the Sea Games 2017.

“Film­ing was de­layed by a few weeks be­cause most of the venues we wanted to use were booked for the Sea Games events.”

Pro­ducer Josiah Chieng, who planned to screen the biopic in Hong Kong, Ma­cau, Tai­wan and Ja­pan, said the film fea­tured fea­ture ad­vanced cam­era work, which al­lowed view­ers to ex­pe­ri­ence the fast-paced bad­minton game from Lee’s per­spec­tive.

PIC BY NUR ADIBAH AH­MAD IZAM

Bad­minton cham­pion Datuk Lee Chong Wei (cen­tre) with Jake Eng (left) and Tosh Chan dur­ing a press con­fer­ence in Kuala Lumpur re­cently.

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