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Filmmaking is fun

So last Wednesday I was walking down the street in Tsimshatsui and I happened upon this scene:

There’s always a crowd in front of 7-11

Hey, they were shooting a film! I was genuinely surprised and hung around to snap some photos. Hanging out near the film set resulted in me being 75 minutes late for a date with a girl, but she understood. Unfortunately, I have been unable to confirm her understanding because she won’t return my phone calls.

I’m sure Nick Cheung would have done the same thing:

“I totally make women wait!
They are powerless to resist my debonair charm.”

Actually, I’m lying. I was tipped off that Dante Lam (BEAST STALKER) was shooting his new film on that particular Wednesday in Tsimshatsui, and I took a late afternoon sabbatical to check out the set. Sad to say, I’ve been in Hong Kong over four years and I’ve never actually attended a Hong Kong film shoot. Now I can check this accomplishment off my list and move onto my next one: actually appearing in a Hong Kong film. I’m hoping when I accomplish this it’ll involve squibs and Karena Lam.

“Stop! You’re embarrassing me!”

Going by the (probably tentative) Chinese title 《火龍》, translated as “Fire Dragon”, this new film marks the latest from Dante Lam, who seems to be attempting a single-handed takeover of Hong Kong Cinemas since his BEAST STALKER success. Besides 《火龍》,  Lam has a number of projects lined up, including BEAST STALKER 2, reuniting Lam with Nick Cheung - which probably means we’re talking a sequel in name only. Nicholas Tse may be in the project too, but only if he tones down his overacting.

Nic Tse
“I won’t overact this time, I promise! Jackie, save me!”

Lam is also slated to direct a new take on THE FLYING GUILLOTINE for producer Peter Chan Ho-Sun, plus there’s his “Best Actor” project, which is to star Nick Cheung, Francis Ng, Anthony Wong and Lau Ching-Wan. Recently, it was also floated that Lam will direct a sequel to DRAGON TIGER GATE. Obviously, Dante Lam intends on being busy through 2013. I hope he takes a break to eat.

Here’s Dante Lam hard at work on the set:

Dante Lam
“Between takes, I drink Slurpees.”

The first actor I spotted that day was a perm-sporting Richie Jen (or Richie Ren, depending on what movie’s credits you’re copying from). Richie emerged from the next door cha chaan teng (local cafe) and proceeded to shoot the scene, which involved he and a bunch of other actors escorting a criminal into an unmarked cop car.

“I work this hairstyle.”

It took about two takes before I realized who was walking behind Richie:

Richie and Leon
The evil presence behind Richie Jen once dated Shu Qi.

Behind Richie is his co-star Leon Lai, sporting his infamous (at least to local Hong Kong media) fake facial hair. While I can’t say the beard looks convincing, Leon does look very in character as a rumpled cop.

 Leon Lai
“Catch bad guys first. Shower later.”

Facial hair and a lack of grooming seems to be Leon’s new thing. Check out his look in this December’s BODYGUARDS AND ASSASSINS:

Beggar Leon
“Catch bad guys. Don’t shower, period.”

I think he’s playing Jesus.

Also present for filming that day were Michelle Ye, who was sporting a new shorter haircut; singer Wilfred Lau, perhaps best known as fiery young triad guy in LADY COP AND PAPA CROOK; and the always awesome Liu Kai-Chi, who once upon a time won a LoveHKFilm Award for Best Overacting.

Liu Kai Chi
Liu Kai-Chi doesn’t overact. He just improves movies.

Like all movie sets, the atmosphere was electric for all of five minutes before it became one long waiting game, with repeated take after take of guys getting into cars and driving off. Occasionally a big truck would drive through the set and they’d have to reposition the camera all over again. Frankly, I’m simply amazed that filmmakers can do what they do - that is, take the days, weeks or months of tedium and turn them into something that actually works as a motion picture. It’s times like these that I feel guilty for panning films.

Then I think about GIVE LOVE and my guilt just disappears.

Give Love
This photo screams quality filmmaking.

That’s pretty much it for my personal set visit to 《火龍》. After a good hour hanging around on the street, I stopped into a cafe, had some roast pork and iced milk tea, sat around with Dante Lam and Michelle Ye, exchanged some words with Richie Jen, and shook Leon Lai’s hand. Twice. He also said sorry to me for not saying “Hi” earlier, because I was busy cutting up some french toast. Really, this is all true and totally makes sense.

Leon drinking
“Want some champagne with that french toast?”

Yep, just another Wednesday in Hong Kong. I can sum up my experience in one word:

They make a gelato flavor for everything

Photo credits: Apple Daily,, Mei Ah Entertainment and the official LoveHKFilm Digital Camera.

17 Responses to “Filmmaking is fun”

  1. 1lau Says:

    Well it’s still the second of Juli over here.
    So you went undercover as Journalist/Paparazzi to get some scopes in the HK movie business eh?
    Nice pictures and descriptions of Leon, they were really nice and made me laugh. xD

  2. glenn Says:

    Great post!

    It took me a few months of reading about HK films to finally figure out that Richie Ren and Richie Jen were the same person.

  3. anotherlonelyday Says:

    glenn, it’s quite funny that with the anglicised spelling of chinese names because sometimes it is really confusing.

    heard of kelly chen and edison chen? of you have but they are predominantly cantonese stars (careers started off and are in hong kong) so why aren’t their surnames spelt chan?

    some cases are understandable i guess like john woo (and his foray into hollywood) because the ‘ng’ is harding to pronounce.

  4. anotherlonelyday Says:

    hey just saw the detective on dvd and was reading the review..

    ‘ Tam could have been a cop, but his poor vision has relegated him to a private dick that follows adulterers and other assorted minor rule-breakers. His new case, however, is a doozy.’

    you might want to change that haha. adultery + phallic words = subliminal thoughts whilst you were writing?

    quick everybody, grap a screenshot! it’s like messing about on wikipedia.

  5. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    1lau, the day of the shoot was actually June 24th. It took me a whole week to put the photos online. I’m either really busy or really lazy.

    glenn, the Jen/Ren issue is a real problem on because the site alternates between both. I really should have asked him personally what spelling he wants to use.

    anotherlonelyday, actually there was nothing subliminal going on when I wrote that review. Though apparently, the line makes more than one person giggle. I’m fine with that - it’s not like it screwed up my chances at the Pulitizer Prize.

  6. ryanuy Says:

    awesome blog!

  7. saiyu Says:

    Nice experience of watching the film shooting in Hong Kong! Good for you. I experienced few times before too. Your blog is always entertaining, should update more! :)

  8. achillesgirl Says:

    I have enjoyed snickering about Tse’s overacting in Beast Stalker, but then the thought occurred to me that maybe it’s not all Tse’s fault. Part of a director’s job (if he does it well) is to communicate to the actors exactly what he wants them to do and to help them do it when they need guidance. Tse’s Beast Stalker meltdown therefore should be (in a perfect world) exactly what Lam intended. If not, then Lam gaffed by not getting some kind of professional help (e.g. an acting coach) in there to stop the madness. Either way, I’m now a little more inclined to blame Lam for the cheesiness, especially since it fits right in with Beast Stalker’s stereotype storyline and one-dimensional characters (the action was awesome!!; all the rest was frankly…ehhhh…). I’m not defending Tse because I am non-committal about him. I’m just saying, since the director is responsible for controlling the emotional volume of a scene and of a whole film, then I think I have to cut Tse some slack and put some of the blame on Lam.

  9. Richardsson Says:

    Seeing Leon’s stick-on bumfluff reminds me of what I see as one of the unwritten Universal Laws of Hong Kong Cinema: that the 4 Heavenly Kings + facial hair = bad juju.

    With the exception of “A Fighter’s Blues” for His Lordship Lau (and possibly “Divergence” for Kwokkers), I can’t re-call a single time when facial hair has ‘worked’ on the 4 Sky Kings.

    Next question: when will see the now-matured Ekin Cheng sporting some theatrical bumfluff? Or will we have to settle for “Forest of Death”?

  10. eliza bennet Says:

    Nice update, you should do this more often :)

    OK maybe I’m blinded by the hotness but Nic Tse didn’t overact in Beast Stalker imho - in fact I liked him and the prosecutor lady best (that girl is a great actress btw).

    I don’t know why people like Nick Cheung that much since he neither has the talent, nor the charisma nor the looks but to me he is like this person who is in the films because the good and talented ones didn’t want those roles. (I’m aware that this is irrational but this is the way I feel)

    Leon can not really act but the man has a calming aura and is inexplicably attractive. This pics and captions are hillarious though, thanks Kozo.

  11. David Harris Says:

    “A view of Dante keeps the women at bay!”

  12. achillesgirl Says:

    IMHO, Nick Cheung is not only HK cinema’s most intensely relentless Terminator (Breaking News and Beast Stalker) but can handle complex emotional roles (On the Edge) and comedy (The Duel). He is very interesting on film (”charasmatic”); is hotness required to be good and talented?

  13. 聚言莊﹕The House Where Words Gather Says:

    […] only I was involved with a hot starlet who allowed me opportunities to hang around and eat roast pork with the likes of Dante Lam, Michelle Ye, Richie Ren and Leon Lai […]

  14. Kim Says:

    Thanks for the post. Too bad you didn’t get to snap a picture of Michelle and her new hairDo. :(

  15. David Harris Says:

    […] only I was involved with a hot starlet who allowed me opportunities to hang around and eat roast pork with the likes of Dante Lam, Michelle Ye, Richie Ren and Leon Lai […] - As if I wasn’t jealous enough :)

    I like Nick Cheung in Beast Stalker too although I do think he was better in Exodus. Despite a false note or two in Beast Stalker I do see real improvement in Nic Tse’s acting chops

  16. Webmaster Kozo Says:

    Meeting Leon was really odd, because he seems really nice and genuinely personable. It makes me feel bad for criticizing his acting - though I’m sure that whatever is said on this site won’t keep him up at night.

    Hi Kim, I did get a photo of Michelle with her new hairdo, but it’s rather blurry. To see what she looks like, you should look here:

    Just scroll down a little.

    I like both Nick and Nic but I do think Nick was better in Beast Stalker. I cannot comment on the hotness of either.

  17. darren Says:

    great post kozo, gave me a good laugh
    and i definitely think nick cheung is talented…

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