Thursday, April 23rd, 2009
[Every once in a while, I’ll take a trip down memory lane to spotlight an important, interesting, or just plain peculiar historical moment in Hong Kong cinema history. This will be the first. Hope you enjoy ‘em]
Do you remember when Hollywood finally got hip to Hong Kong action? In the aftermath of the Yuen Woo-Ping choreographed fight scenes in The Matrix (1999) and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000), Hollywood producers began importing Hong Kong action directors with increased frequency for at least the next three years. Yuen returned for the two Matrix sequels as well as the two volumes of Quentin Tarantino’s saga. His brother, Yuen Cheung-Yan handled the action choreography in Kill BillCharlie’s Angels (2000), Daredevil (2003), and Charlie’s Angels 2: Full Throttle (2003). Corey Yuen-Kwai, who actually got a head start* in Jet Li’s American debut, 1998’s Lethal Weapon 4, which was soon to be followed by his participation with Romeo Must Die (2000), X-Men (2000), Kiss of the Dragon (2001), The Transporter (2001) and its sequel, and a personal guilty pleasure, Cradle 2 The Grave (2003).**
If you’re a Hong Kong cinema fan, you’ve probably heard of, if not actually seen, all of these films. But there’s at least one title missing from the millennial “Hong Kong action director” boom. Does anyone remember The Musketeer back in 2001? That title might ring a bell with some of you, but I’m not sure everyone will remember its Hong Kong connection.
Okay, here’s the scoop. When approached to direct The Musketeer, Peter Hyams (2010, Timecop) was not at all keen on helming the picture – that is, until he came upon the idea of melding Hong Kong wirework with old fashioned Hollywood swashbuckling might actually make the project more interesting – not only to himself, but to the film-going audience as well. For reasons I haven’t been able to determine, Hyams hired none other than Xiong Xin-Xin (most famous as Club Foot in the latter half of the Once Upon a Time in China series) to be the film’s action director. Xiong reportedly spent something like a year thinking up the action setpieces in collaboration with Peter Hyams.