With­out a dou­ble

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - By YIP WAI YEE

Vet­eran ac­tor chen Kuan tai, a bona fide mar­tial arts cham­pion, fought his own bat­tles on screen.

VET­ERAN Hong Kong mar­tial arts ac­tor Chen Kuan Tai comes across as one of those guys who likes to rem­i­nisce about the good old days.

Dur­ing his 20-minute in­ter­view, the 66-year-old re­hashes the point that young ac­tors these days just do not cut it, com­pared to his gen­er­a­tion.

Over the tele­phone from Bei­jing where he is now based, he says in Can­tonese, in a straight­for­ward man­ner: “Young peo­ple are very pam­pered these days, so they are not as tough as we used to be.

“As for to­day’s so-called kung fu ac­tors, they are, of­ten times, not even trained in mar­tial arts. These guys come onto the set, flail their arms a lit­tle, and then let ei­ther a stunt dou­ble or some spe­cial ef­fects do the rest of the work.

“But no amount of com­puter-gen­er­ated im­agery can give you the same sense of re­al­ism that you would get if the guy ac­tu­ally had a gen­uine mar­tial arts back­ground,” says Chen who played the char­ac­ter Water Moon Monk in 14 Blades last year.

To be fair, it is only nat­u­ral Chen would have such a tough at­ti­tude. He is, af­ter all, con­sid­ered one of the most solidly trained mar­tial arts stars of his time, and has won sev­eral kung fu cham­pi­onship ti­tles. This is on top of rack­ing up a bevy of ac­tion film cred­its in the 1970s.

Over a ca­reer span of more than 40 years, he has more than 100 movies un­der his (pre­sum­ably black) belt.

Though he is not an A-list ac­tor any­more, Chen did make a big come­back of sorts with last year’s hit film Gal­lants, in which he plays one of the lead­ing men.

The kung fu com­edy, di­rected by Cle­ment Cheng and Derek Kwok, has Chen play­ing an old mar­tial artist who is be­ing bul­lied by vil­lage gang­sters.

All the buzz gen­er­ated by Gal­lants, which won Best Film at the 2010 Hong Kong Film Awards, es­sen­tially helped to put Chen back on the map.

“Those peo­ple who have never seen any of my old movies be­fore sud­denly recog­nise me on the streets now,” he says with a chuckle.

Not that that mat­ters very much to Chen; the hum­ble per­former is not one to covet fame or star­dom.

“Ac­tors are no dif­fer­ent from any other per­son, ex­cept for the na­ture of their work,” he says. “I don’t be­lieve that there are such things as movie stars.”

And as much as he grum­bles about the younger gen­er­a­tion not be­ing hardy enough, he says he would not want to com­pete with them, any­way.

He is well aware that, phys­i­cally, he has his lim­its now.

“I still do low-im­pact ex­er­cises ev­ery day, like swim­ming, but I know my body is not the same as be­fore.

“Last time I could jump from a three-storey build­ing with no is­sue. That kind of thing was quite ba­sic dur­ing our time. But now if you want me to jump down from a few feet, I prob­a­bly would not be able to do it. You can­not force these things.”

In­stead, the twice-di­vorced man is more in­ter­ested in pass­ing on his knowl­edge ver­bally.

He ex­plains: “I try to tell the younger ac­tors all sorts of sto­ries that my old men­tors used to tell me. In the end, the sto­ries are all say­ing the same thing, though; es­sen­tially, you just have to give your best in every­thing that you do – whether it is act­ing or other­wise.

“If you do things only half-heart­edly, you will never feel the sense of joy that comes with hard-earned ac­com­plish­ment.”

He stresses that he will never think of leav­ing the film in­dus­try.

Chen, who does some oc­ca­sional work be­hind the cam­era as well, such as pro­duc­ing and over­see­ing ac­tion chore­og­ra­phy, says: “Films are a huge part of my life. I don’t think there is any­thing else that I know or un­der­stand bet­ter than this. So how can I ever let it go?” – The Straits Times, Sin­ga­pore/Asia News Net­work

Need­ing You

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malaysia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.