A won­der wo­man

> Actress Chris Tong re­veals how she’s tough­ened up to play a leader in the all-wo­man ac­tion film Spe­cial Fe­male Force


THE re­cent Hong Kong ac­tion-com­edy film Spe­cial Fe­male Force fol­lows a group of pic­ture-per­fect ladies who de­cide to join the po­lice force. Even­tu­ally, they are tasked with tak­ing out a dan­ger­ous gang leader.

Aside from thrilling fight scenes and gun bat­tles, au­di­ences were treated to plenty of stren­u­ous phys­i­cal train­ing mon­tages in­volv­ing the girls, as they ran ob­sta­cle cour­ses, did push-ups, and prac­tised their marks­man­ship at a shoot­ing range.

The group is led by Iris, played by Malaysian actress Chris Tong. Iris is the epit­ome of a strong leader, and is de­scribed as head­strong, re­silient, and tough.

How­ever, Tong con­fesses she’s noth­ing like the char­ac­ter she plays at all.

In a re­cent in­ter­view with theSun, Tong ad­mits that she and the rest of the cast didn’t ex­pect the train­ing scenes in the film to be that gru­elling.

The cast all went through some phys­i­cal train­ing about three weeks prior to the film shoot to get them­selves used to work­ing out, which Tong de­scribes as more of a ‘girl’s party’ rather than an ac­tual boot camp ex­pe­ri­ence.

The first day of film­ing, how­ever, turned out to be a night­mare for her, be­cause of all the stren­u­ous ac­tiv­i­ties she was re­quired to do.

“I hate ex­er­cis­ing, ever since I was young,” said the 33-year-old beauty queen and actress in be­tween laughs.

“Hav­ing no stunt dou­ble is prob­a­bly one of the big­gest chal­lenges of this film. In act­ing, I can try to over­come [chal­lenges] my­self, but for some­thing [in­volv­ing] stamina, it is out of my con­trol.”

Not only that, Tong’s tough-girl char­ac­ter Iris was ex­pected to have no prob­lems per­form­ing the phys­i­cal ex­er­cises flaw­lessly.

Most of the time dur­ing film­ing, Tong had to com­plete the train­ing ex­er­cises first be­cause Iris was re­quired to do so as the leader, and she had to per­form them per­fectly, since di­rec­tor Wil­son Chin was not a fan of sec­ond takes.

Tong re­called one par­tic­u­larly ter­ri­fy­ing scene, which re­quired her to jump off an ab­seil­ing tower with just a rope for sup­port, and no ad­di­tional safety equip­ment.

“For my role, I had to look steady and calm be­cause Iris could do every­thing, and [it was] a very big chal­lenge for me be­cause I [could not] pre­tend that I was good … I would rather take a role with a weak char­ac­ter be­cause then, I can show my true emo­tions,” she said.

“The di­rec­tor was yelling at me, ‘are you com­ing down or not?’ but I didn’t know how to go down ... I was lost and didn’t know what to do...

“So I fi­nally tried my best, but once I jumped down, the di­rec­tor asked me to do it again be­cause I didn’t get the [fa­cial] ex­pres­sion right!”

She also said Chin would “lose his tem­per” when the cast didn’t meet his stan­dards, but she re­spected his de­mand for per­fec­tion, es­pe­cially since it is all part of the ex­pe­ri­ence of work­ing in the film pro­duc­tion in­dus­try.

When asked about how she felt about the role, Tong said she ini­tially found Iris a dif­fi­cult char­ac­ter to play be­cause their per­son­al­i­ties were so dif­fer­ent.

“I’m the to­tal op­po­site of Iris,” she said. “She is a se­ri­ous per­son and [doesn’t have] a happy per­son­al­ity ... she is too hard on her­self and she al­ways tries to hit the 100% score. I think in life we need to take it easy some­times.

“Some­times as an actress, you will [be of­fered] a role which you per­son­ally refuse to ac­cept, and that is the sad­dest part, so [dur­ing film­ing] I al­ways tried to bal­ance my emo­tions, and told my­self that I just had to ac­cept it.”

How­ever, this isn’t the first time the bub­bly actress has been given a se­ri­ous role, and she con­fessed that she still won­ders why.

“Most of the dra­mas I act in, I play strong per­son­al­i­ties [in] roles such as a doc­tor or po­lice [of­fi­cer], so maybe ... the au­di­ence and di­rec­tors [can eas­ily see me in] the im­age of a smart ca­reer wo­man,” she said.

De­spite that, she said she is ex­tremely grate­ful for the op­por­tu­ni­ties given to her, and sees tough roles as a learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I learned that I have to be ready for all chal­lenges and I can’t give my­self so many ex­cuses … Af­ter Spe­cial Fe­male Force, I al­ways re­mind my­self to keep train­ing [in or­der] to get my­self ready as an actress; it’s not just [pre­par­ing your­self] men­tally or [main­tain­ing] a phys­i­cal look – stamina also plays an im­por­tant part.”


– Chris Tong

(from far left) Scenes from the ac­tion­packed Spe­cial Fe­male Force.

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