THE FIRST TIME I saw Duckweed was during Chinese New Year, when I was in my hometown, Qingdao. It’s a comedy about a professional rally driver who magically travels back in time and befriends the younger version of his father. I watched it with my family at a sold- out show and I can still recall how much the audience laughed.
I am friends with Han Han, the prominent novelist who directed the film. We’d often get together and chat about movies. When I saw Duckweed, I was amazed and surprised that a novelist could be so adept at film language and have such a good grasp of pacing. The film is hilarious and brilliantly conceived, with vivid characters that are well fleshed out. It’s an advanced piece of filmmaking. To be honest, it made me quite jealous.
Another reason I like it is that Han included music and clips from John Woo’s 1986 classic A Better Tomorrow, of which I’m a huge fan. When I told him I was remaking the film, he said one thing: ‘ There are only two people in this world who can make this film: one is me, and the other is you.’
That’s why I asked Han to do a cameo in A Better Tomorrow 2018. In that scene, Ray Ma, who plays a police officer, commandeers a car and pulls the driver out. The driver, played by Han, offers to take the wheel, but the officer says, ‘No way, because you have terrible driving skills.’ Everyone knows that Han is also a professional rally driver in real life, so I added that line as an inside joke.