South Korean leading actress Ha Ji-won is adapting well to her new status as action star.
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STARRING in creature feature Sector 7, billed as South Korea’s first 3D actioner (not available in 3D here, though), Ha Jiwon impressed the director so much that he felt that the movie could not be made without an actress like her.
Known as South Korea’s Angelina Jolie, Ha’s intense performance in Sector 7 (released in August in South Korea) has won her rave reviews from moviegoers in the country who have compared her performance to Sigourney Weaver’s in Hollywood science fiction blockbuster Aliens (1986).
Directed by Kim Ji-hoon, Sector 7 also stars Oh Ji-ho, Ahn Sung-ki and Park Cheol-min. The movie depicts how the crew of an oil rig battles a sea monster that has mutated due to a virus.
In Sector 7, Ha plays Cha Hae-jun, a harbour equipment administrator. “The character interested me but I think the movie itself interested me more. When I was reading the script, I wondered if my country could pro- duce this kind (3D) of movie too. Since I like challenges, I’d give priority to action movies.”
Born Jeon Hae-rim in Seoul, the 33-yearold, started off her acting career in romantic comedies and is well-known as an actress who puts in a lot of effort doing research in preparation for her roles.
But lately, she has been bitten by the action bug and raised the bar by challenging herself further in her latest movie Sector 7. “I lived on the oil drilling ship in the middle of the ocean. Because it’s also about discovery in the sea, I got myself a skin-scuba licence.
“Then, I was so surprised when I heard that there would be a bike riding scene in the movie. But I thought that it would be cool to see an actress riding a motorcycle in the movie, so I got myself a motorcycling license in a week too. Yet, I still thought that it would not be enough, so I watched a lot of biketours with my co-actors. I’ve put a lot of effort into narrowing the gap between myself and the motorcycle.
“There were also many action scenes that used wires. The director had even mistaken me as a stunt-man once, and he shouted at me, saying, ‘Ask the stunt-man to get out fast!’”
Apart from getting qualifications in skinscuba and bike riding, she also underwent an intensive training regime that helped a lot in the interpretation of her character in the movie. “I swam and did weight training for eight hours every day, to improve and train my stamina. I got a lot of help from the other actors to act rough and tough.”
“I faced many difficulties at the beginning of the production, such as the emotions and the direction where my eyes should look, especially in scenes with the creature, as it is all up to imagination.
“The other actors felt like I did; the hardest part of the movie was having to fight an imaginary monster, one that we can’t see. Although I’d acted in Tsunami At Haeundae (2009), Sector 7 was really tiring. The dialogue recording process was smooth because the director, seniors and crew were all there with us.”
Ha felt that her character was very ambitious. “I’ve heard many people say that a Hollywood actor would be more suited to this sort of character compared to a delicate Asian actress. I hope that people will change their perception after they watch this movie.”
With so many action scenes, it is inevitable that Ha sustained her fair share of injuries during production. “I always worry about safety because of many dangerous scenes in the movie. Even with all the preparation and security taken, my body still ached and required chiropractic treatment the day after filming the action scenes. I fell from the motorcycle once, and my hands and legs were injured and I’m still undergoing treatment for that.”
But the actress is no stranger to challenging action roles. Her reputation for physically demanding roles grew as she took on difficult movies and trained herself to do advanced aerobics ( Sex Is Zero, 2002), Korean martial art Sunmudo ( Duelist, 2005), boxing ( Miracle On 1st Street, 2007) and all sorts of stunt work for her stuntwoman role in TV series Secret Garden (2010). – SetoKitYan
n Sector7 opens in local cinemas on Oct 20.