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.