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Meeting a Shaw Brothers legend, Ti Lung at the 2004 Amiens Film Festival
Presentation 1/1 - Page 1
Author(s) : David Vivier
Date : 1/11/2004
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Chang Cheh
Ti Lung
Jimmy Wang Yu
Companies :
Shaw Brothers
Lexic :
Wing Chun
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Page 2 : Directors

Amiens, November 6th, 2004, I discover the city in the afternoon… that same evening, I meet Ti Lung and his wife. I introduce myself, it is impossible not to recognize Ti Lung, he is still the same elegant, charismatic man that I know through films and photos.

At first I am slightly intimidated by him, I explain to him the reason why I’m here and specify that we will soon meet again. During their presence at the Festival, I have the chance to meet the couple every day. When the ‘official day’ of the interviews comes, I nearly have no more apprehension in front of Ti Lung, we know each other a little. The discussion is a delight by all means, he tells me he is glad to have been invited in France, and asks me why such an honour, such a particular attention, I simply answer him that it is normal for a great actor to be acknowledged. A simple question, a simple answer…

Amiens, its festival, the retrospective dedicated to Ti Lung, its welcome are still vivid in my mind and so will be my respect for a man with a legendary class…

HKC : How did you end up at the Shaw Brothers?
Ti Lung : At the age of 19, I liked watch a lot of Shaw Brothers (SB) films, my idol was Jimmy Wang Yu (the top star at the moment). So to try to join the SB, I started practising body building by going to the gym, I would practise the Wing Chun (Ed.: a type of Kung Fu) techniques so as to be ready for an audition. Then one day, I read an ad in the newspaper, specifying that Chang Cheh was recruiting new actors.

HKC : So you were recruited by Chang Cheh himself.
Ti Lung : No, not by Chang Cheh at first, because you know, there were different directors who worked at the SB. The SB was a very big organization with many actors and directors and actually it’s a Japanese director who made me take different tests, physical tests like jumping or breaking planks… Once I was selected by this director, Chang Cheh made me take other tests.
HKC : The selection must have been really tough.

Ti Lung : One must know that at that time, there were 1000s of young people who were trying to apply for this kind of work and once selected, we would sign a long-term contract for 5 or 8 years. Then we would start taking a lot of lectures. The second test I took with Chang Cheh was more like an audition because he was testing my acting skills ; I was given dialogues to play, and I was therefore assessed on my acting skills.

And another crucial element at that time, marketing. Films, then, were shot in Mandarin, and in HK we speak Cantonese. Cantonese people in HK didn’t speak Mandarin perfectly. So Chang Cheh found the solution, and this was for me a golden opportunity. I owe all this to Chang Cheh who gave me an 8-year contract and then I went back to the SB school because you must know that our voices were dubbed in Mandarin, it was another actor who dealt with the dubbing into Mandarin. We spoke Mandarin but the accent wasn’t perfect. Now with time, my acting skills in Mandarin have improved. I master it as if it were my mother tongue. Most actors were given western first names to recognize them.


Ti Lung with his wife

HKC : Who found your cinema name? (‘Ti Lung’ from ‘De Lon’ a transliteration of the french actor Alain Delon name).
Ti Lung : At that time, when we went to the SB school, it was very, very tiring. Our classes were very intense and even after that, I would go and see films and I admired a lot Alain Delon's. So I asked the production to choose me a name which would be close to Alain Delon’s in the hope of being as good an actor as him and one day a secretary from the production found this name of Ti Lung, ‘Ti’ is a lucky name and ‘Lung’ means dragon.

HKC : You were given a very good name since you have a face that can be very severe and very gentle at once.
Ti Lung : Alain Delon has a very attractive look, full of mystery ; he has the appearance of a tough guy but at other times seductive. All the girls can fall in love with him, he’s an international star, a great star and I admired him so much.

Ti Lung and Cheng Li in Blood Brothers (1973)

HKC : We can say you are the Asian Alain Delon and that Alain Delon is the French Ti Lung.
Ti Lung : (Laughs) yes.

HC : What training in martial arts did you have apart from Wing Chung ? Do you have the impression that your knowledge in martial arts has been displayed at its best in your films?
Ti Lung : I already knew the technique of the Wing Chun, but at the SB, you had to learn and work several techniques, a wide range of techniques, Thai boxing, karate, judo, taekwondo, the technique of the mantis… The martial arts we practised were a combination of all the techniques I have previously mentioned. We would observe some movements, we would try to copy them by trying to innovate. What’ was important in that you had to make sure not to hurt your partner, you needed both the intensity and a very good self-control. So the look, the facial expression had to trigger fear in the opponent, give this impression of power but while keeping an extreme control at the same time. During this long period when I worked for cinema, I have unfortunately sent several of my partners to hospital.
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