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Meeting a Shaw Brothers legend, Ti Lung at the 2004 Amiens Film Festival
The Shaw Brothers Years 1/2 - Page 2
Author(s) : David Vivier
Date : 1/11/2004
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Chang Cheh
David Chiang Da Wei
Chu Yuan
Gu Long
Movies :
The House Of 72 Tenants
The Magic Blade
Vengeance !
< Previous
Page 1 : Presentation
Next >
Page 3 : David Chiang

chang cheh

HKC : You considered Chang Cheh as your father. With him, you became one of his favourite actors along side David Chiang. He liked showing bare-chested warriors who confronted each other in very bloody fights, with a lot of rage and blood. Sometimes they died in excruciating sufferings. Where did he get those ideas?
Ti Lung : I can’t answer about Chang Cheh. [Ed: Ti Lung considers Chang Cheh as his mentor and out of respect, he doesn’t wish to talk about the old master]

HKC : Chang Cheh was a trainer, a kind of drill sergeant and the one who introduced you in the film industry.
Ti Lung : Actually, I could almost say about him that he’s my godfather. At that time, we had small wages. When money was a bit short, we asked for an extra and Chang Cheh, very generously gave a bit of his money. That helped us to brighten up a bit our lives.
HKC : Not only was Chang Cheh a great director but he was also a respectable, very generous, very kind man. He wanted his actors to become "rich and famous" without anything in return.

Ti Lung : Exactly, he wasn’t only a good director, he was someone who liked helping others and moreover he was good at negotiations with the production. He knew how to bargain with them in a way to increase our wages and so increase our standard of living. He’s a wonderful person, a great director, and a leader.

Unfortunately one day, I had a problem. One night, I was drunk and I fought with two HK police officers, and they were two high-ranked police officers so I got arrested and sent to the police station. I was charged with assault and Chang Cheh personally found a lawyer for me who got me out of trouble and he acted in my favour. I was very lucky because I didn’t lose my job.


Ti Lung in Vengeance ! (1970)

HKC : I particularly like the film Vengeance! (shown in Amiens), which is very hard, very pessimistic with a heavy atmosphere. Which memories do you keep of this film?
Ti Lung : In Vengeance ! (1970), I play in the first part of the film and it was a difficult role. A challenge as an actor because I indeed played the part of a stage actor, and there were lots of fights. Finally, the film had a good career as it was a success at the box office, moreover, it got the award for the year’s best film and David Chiang was awarded best actor.

The film was liked in HK, critics described it as sometimes violent but also remarkable. But in Asian film festivals, it wasn’t very easy to get two awards and it wasn’t either a stroke of luck. It has a rare quality which attracts people.

HKC : Even if you don’t appear for a very long time in the film, your role is similar to Janet Leigh’s in Psycho. Since the character dies after ten minutes, but despite all this the character’s shadow can be felt throughout the whole film.
Ti Lung : Thank you.

Ti Lung in Heroic Ones


chu yuan
HKC : You have played the lead role in The Sentimental Swordsman and The Magic Blade.
Ti Lung : The Magic Blade (1976) was my first collaboration with Chu Yuan, it was the adaptation of a novel by a Taiwanese writer Gu Long. When it came, the film caused a sensation and it was the beginning of a fruitful collaboration between the three of us. So I went from Chang Cheh to Chu Yuan, and I worked for many years like this Chu's novels adaptations were released not only in HK but also in Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia. It was if I had won the lottery, it helped me to buy several houses. It was a very good partnership between us.
HKC : Chor Yuen (Cha Chu Yuan in Mandarin) is a very meticulous director, he would replace Chang Cheh’s bloody excesses by with a research more centeredmore on suspense and multileveled plots, with films with a more entrancing atmosphere.

Ti Lung : Chu Yuan started his career at a very very young age as a scriptwriter and also as Shu Tieh’s assistant, a very famous director, his father was the number one actor in Cantonese, his wife was a talented actress, all his family were composed of very talented people. Chu Yuan was an artist with a strange behaviour, he could show up in pyjamas at work because he had forgotten to put his suit, on. He could turn up with something to eat, having slept in his car and then write down any ideas that could come up to his mind and resume work. He was a fundamentally optimistic person who believed in his lucky star.

He was a cinema genius, from his first film The Whispering Palms to House of 72 tenants (1973) which was the first film in Cantonese [for a long time in HK] and which destroyed the Mandarin film market. And then came the film series with Gu Long’s novels adaptations. Chu was a hugely creative person and when he had nothing to do, he would play mah-jong or elaborate new ideas.

HKC : Can you tell us more about your character in The Magic Blade?
Ti Lung : It’s true that I had an aspect quite close to Clint Eastwood’s, a way to challenge an opponent by looking right into the eyes. Actually, contrary to the idea that an actor must always be elegant, Chu Yuan did the opposite. He had a vision, and on the other hand, he had a lot of imagination regarding weapons, he was the one who invented for me a slightly boomerang-like weapon.

Ti Lung in Magic Blade (1976)
HKC : Was your relationship with Chu Yuan very different from the one with Chang Cheh ?
Ti Lung : My relationship with Chu Yuan wasn’t the same as the one with Chang Cheh. For instance, Chu Yuan would come for dinner at my house and play mah-jong with my wife [Ed': a quick knowing glance to his wife present at the interview]. But it wasn’t the same with Chang Cheh. Because he was my mentor, my Pygmalion. With Chu Yuan, it wasn’t as serious, it was more both a brotherly and respectful relationship.
HKC : Which notable differences have you seen between Chang Cheh and Chu Yuan’s productions?

Ti Lung : Chang Cheh had a more original approach, he himself wrote his own scripts, tailor-made scripts for his actors. He showed his actors in a more glamorous way and at the same time showed deeper aspects, he had his own guiding lines, the characters were more attractive. While Chu Yuan would make adaptations, he would take several novels, he took some elements from each of them, combining them and get a very satisfactory result.

If I had to compare them with trees, Chang Cheh would be a very straight pine tree, whereas Chu Yuan would be a Christmas tree. Chang Cheh was more devoted to his work whereas Chu Yuan was more of a playboy, someone who preferred having fun.

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