Down and dirty

Sean Lau and Ed­die Peng play a pair of scruffy heroes in Benny Chan’s lat­est film.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - MOVIES - By SETO KIT- YAN en­ter­tain­ment@ thes­tar. com. my

AF­TER Call Of Heroes hit the screens, movie­go­ers were quick to dub it a po­lit­i­cally- charged fu­sion of clas­sic movie gen­res that pays trib­ute to the spaghetti west­erns and sa­mu­rai dra­mas of yesteryears.

Di­rec­tor Benny Chan, how­ever, prefers to call his lat­est film “just a straight­for­ward story of good ver­sus evil”. In­spired by all the mar­tial arts flicks that he used to watch while grow­ing up, the H ong Kong film­maker said: “The con­cept has its ori­gins from a mar­tial arts world, and springs from the un­der­ly­ing chival­rous spirit, which is the ba­sic build­ing block of the heroic char­ac­ters in the movie.”

In the film, a right­eous small­town sher­iff Ye­ung H ak- nan ( Sean Lau) seeks to con­vict a trig­ger­happy war­lord’s son Tso Siu- lun ( Louis Koo) for gun­ning down three in­no­cent peo­ple. Wan­der­ing swords­man M a Fung ( Ed­die Peng) is roped in to pro­vide sup­port when the ma­jor­ity of the vil­lagers would rather re­lease the killer for fear of of­fend­ing his despotic fa­ther.

Chan, who got the idea for Call Of Heroes af­ter his last movie The White Storm ( 2013), con­tin­ued: “The story is a sim­ple face- off be­tween good and evil. In our movie, there is a say­ing that jus­tice needs to be up­held for it to ex­ist. So, these two heroes are the up­hold­ers of jus­tice in the movie.

“As a film­maker, I al­ways want to re­in­force good val­ues. I feel that film is a ex­cel­lent pur­veyor of that mes­sage,” stressed Chan, 54, who was ac­com­pa­nied by ac­tors Sean Lau, 52, and Ed­die Peng, 34, when he was in town re­cently to pro­mote his lat­est movie Call Of Heroes.

Since his sher­iff char­ac­ter is quite the kung fu ex­pert, Lau had to learn how wield the weapon of his choice – a bull­whip. “I had a whip with me in the ho­tel room, so I could prac­tise when­ever I found the time. The thing about a whip is if you don’t wield it cor­rectly, you will end up hit­ting your­self with it. So, I would pick up the whip every morn­ing, to fa­mil­iarise my­self with it so that crack­ing the whip be­came more nat­u­ral.”

Tak­ing on a role deemed a ma­jor de­par­ture from his dash­ing heart­throb im­age, Peng had to style him­self into a messy and rugged va­grant char­ac­ter mod­elled af­ter Toshio Mi­fune’s free- spir­ited hero in Akira Kuro­sawa clas­sics Yo­jimbo ( 1961) and San­juro ( 1962).

“I knew it would be messy, but didn’t ex­pect it to be so dirty. I wanted an out­back sort of look so I grew a long beard and chewed on blades of grass.

“H ere we have the bad guy in white and the good guys in dark clothes, look­ing all grimy and messy. I’m the dirt­i­est of the lot. The di­rec­tor ar­ranged it so that the most clean- cut, neatly- groomed, good- look­ing one was the most evil of them all.

“I had to spend time learn­ing to com­mu­ni­cate with chil­dren and an­i­mals, since many of my scenes were with kids, a horse, and a dog. I spent a lot of time talk­ing to the horses be­cause I had horse­back rid­ing se­quences and and also one of me blind- folded and gal­lop­ing off into the woods. They tried their best to get me the same horse so it would be eas­ier to breed fa­mil­iar­ity,” said Peng.

As it was the first time he was work­ing with vet­eran mar­tial arts star Sammo H ung as ac­tion di­rec­tor, Chan tried his best to ful­fil H ung’s every re­quire­ment. “There is a ma­jor fight scene with lots of wire work, with mul­ti­ple ex­plo­sions and se­cret trap­doors on a bridge. The chal­lenge was erect­ing a float­ing plat­form on the wa­ter to ex­tend the wires from the cranes. That re­quired so much man­power as we had more than 100 stunt crew mem­bers op­er­at­ing the wires,” shared Chan.

Call Of Heroes is cur­rently show­ing at cin­e­mas na­tion­wide. For GSC show­times, turn to the next page.

( From left) Zhou Susu ( Yuan Quan), her hus­band Yang Ke­nan ( Lau) and Ma Feng ( Peng) seem to have mas­tered the art of look­ing dra­mat­i­cally into the dis­tance. — GSC

Lau ( left) and Peng were in town re­cently to pro­mote Call Of Heroes.

— P. NATHAN/ The Star

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