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Interview Roy Horan : gweilo actor and producer in HK
The Shooting of Death 1/1 - Page 3
Author(s) : Arnaud Lanuque
Date : 13/3/2006
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Jackie Chan
Kim Tai Jung
Bruce Lee
Bruce Lee
Ng See Yuen
Movies :
The Game Of Death
Tower Of Death
Companies :
Golden Harvest
< Previous
Page 2 : A Westerner in Jackie Chan's Shadow
Next >
Page 4 : A Superkicker's Way of Life (Hwang Jang Lee)

Fake Bruce Lee
HKCinemagic : Another high peak of your acting career was Tower of Death. Wasn't it a bit late to do a fake Bruce Lee as most of the trend was around 76/77?
Roy Horan : The story behind that, well,…I'm not quite sure…but at the time, Ng See Yuen told me that Golden Harvest had a business interest in him, probably because he was producing a lot of hits and was known to be a resourceful director. I think the film was an initial attempt to get him on board. They gave him the concept of using Bruce Lee footage, and I guess he thought they had much more footage of Bruce Lee to play with. His idea was to use real footage from Game of Deathand Kim Tai Jung [a Korean actor] for side shots, a bit of the Bruce Lee look…use stuntmen for difficult action…and stuff like that…in order to fake it. But the actual Bruce Lee footage turned out to be very slim so, he had to take a lot of full frontal close-up shots of Kim Tai Jung. The original idea got bastardised a bit. It was supposed to be a marketing ploy to continue the Bruce Lee story. Ultimately, it turned out to be a big challenge for Ng to pull it together. I believe he opted for creating a decent action film, regardless of whether the Bruce Lee elements worked, or not. At least, the audience would get some bang for their bucks.
HKCinemagic : You have quite a good fight against two Koreans martial artists. Did you find the choreography very complex to follow?
Roy Horan : I have strengths, and weaknesses. One of my weaknesses is choreography. If you put me in a ring to fight someone; I'm fine to handle it because my reflexes became instinctual, automatic…that type of thing. But in filming, you have to follow a set rhythm and prescribed movements. If someone comes at me fairly fast, and I see an opening, my foot or fist automatically wants to go right there…it's like a hardwired program! In following choreography, the most difficult part for me is controlling myself…to concentrate solely on the movements. The moves weren't difficult. The fight scene went OK, I guess…with one exception. The second fighter was supposed to charge and I had to do a spinning heel kick to his head. I told him to keep his distance but he jumped in a bit too early and I kicked him in the head, knocking him out...in front of about 50, or so, Korean soldiers who were standing by watching the filming! You could hear them yelling gleefully, “Tae Kwon Do! Tae Kwon Do!” (laughs) It kind of freaked my opponent out. That was really the only disturbance we encountered. It turned out to be quite humorous because, back in the early 1990s, I went to Korea to do some business and met the salesman of a particular film distribution company. It turned out to be the same guy! (laughs). The scene played like “Oh no, it's you!”, “Oh no, it's you!” (laughs)…the kung fu sequel enters another arena. Another curious episode in the film happened while shooting the lion scene.
HKCinemagic : Yes.

Roy Horan : The location was an open zoo. Visitors viewed the animals from a glass-enclosed bus which drives through the park. The location is supposed to be part of my character's estate…the bad guy has lions as pets. They have me in this jeep with bars for windows, riding through the lions while the first unit film crew shoots from the bus. We also had a cameraman in the back of the jeep. I've never really dealt with lions before...with one exception, which I'll tell you later. So, I'm in this jeep, throwing little bits of meat through the windows to attract the lions closer so they can get good shots. But, that day, I was a little bit cocky. I started putting my fingers out through the bars. Kim Tai Jung was sitting next to me. One young lion, however, was pretty clever. Suddenly, he disappeared. At first, I didn't notice it. Just when I was ready to stick my entire hand out through the window bars, I hesitated…looked back toward the rear of the vehicle. The lion was crouched just behind, and below, the window…waiting for my hand to go out. He would have just grabbed my hand and ripped my arm out through the bars. I was very, very lucky…but it was basically my stupidity (laugh).

The other time I dealt with a lion was in Italy. Originally, they wanted to shoot the film in and around Rome. I was in Rome, at the time, after the Cannes Film Festival and Ng See Yuen called to ask me to scout filming permits for the coliseum, look for exterior locations in towns along the Italian coastline, find some martial artists to perform and find out if they could get some trained lions to do a fight scene with a Bruce Lee look-alike. I contacted a guy named Guliermo, the top lion trainer in Italy . Over the phone, I said “I'd like to talk to you, about hiring you and your lion for a movie” “Come out, we are shooting a movie today”, he said. I went out to a field location outside of Rome. They had set up a chicken wire fence around a lion, and were filming. He said “What can I do for you?”

- “We would like to look at the possibility of having a lion fight with a martial artist; can you train the lion for this?”
- “The lion I can train, can you train the man?”
- “What do you mean by that?”
- “You do kung fu?”
- “A little bit”
- “I'll show you”, he said.

So, he took me to a position in front of the chicken wire fence. “Pretend you are going to fight this lion, inside the cage”. There was a guy behind me, ready with a steel pole. Guliermo then throws this big chunk of meat at my feet, just inside the cage. The lion is observing this from about 30 feet [around 9 meters] away. He gazes at the meat, crouches down, his tail gently hits the ground once…twice, and on the third hit, this massive animal comes at me so fast I was stunned…in a split second, he covers 30 feet . He attacked with his teeth…his claws are spread out for the grab...and he's got a pretty good reach, let me tell you! I jumped back, astonished, as the guy with the pole simultaneously lunged at the cat. The other trainer obviously knew what was going to happen. Guliermo looks at me with a smile and says, “I can train the lion, can you train the man?”

“I don't know…even Bruce Lee would have had some difficulty.” (laughs)

That's why they didn't use a trained lion in the film

HKCinemagic : So that's why we got such a beautiful fake lion! Didn't they realise after, it looked a bit…
Roy Horan : Hokey?...yeah, they didn't have special effects, CGI , at the time. I think they were hoping that shooting the scene in semi-darkness would be enough. I also believe some of the problems were in the angles they chose. They could have faked it better…more close ups, stock footage and things like that…to give the audience a feeling of confusion as though something was really happening, without showing it clearly...rather than making a guy in a lion suit jump out through the window. (laughs) I guess they never studied the physiology of lion motion…or lion behaviour for that matter. (laughs)
Hung and Bloodied
HKCinemagic : How was the shooting in Korea ? Any communication difficulties?
Roy Horan : No, they had translators speaking both Korean and Chinese. It went really smoothly...beautiful locations…especially the temple that was supposed to be my character's mansion. It went less smooth, however, for me in Hong Kong. In shooting the death scene, they wanted me to hang. This proved to be another lesson in movie safety. They put a thick hemp rope around my neck, and the killer is supposed to pull the hangman's noose tight. The first time he did it, he didn't get the take right. When you pull a noose around someone's neck, it rips skin off...rope burn. He had to do another take…pulled again, and ripped more skin off. By the end of 4 or 5 takes my neck was feeling super awful, and bleeding. Next shot, the killer throws the rope over a beam and yanks me out of bed. I was on a wire. Part way through the filming, they discover that the wire had a fault (laughs). So, had the wire snapped while the stuntman was pulling on the rope, I would have probably been hung for real…my inexperience again! (laughs) I was beginning to learn what not to do in various scenes. I had a scar from that rope which lasted about 10 years. It's nothing, however, compared to stories involving Hong Kong stuntmen, or Jackie Chan...but a bit of a stretch for unsuspecting foreigners. (laughs)
HKCinemagic : And I heard you also had to drink blood?
Roy Horan : It's a funny story, too (laughs). They told me “We want you to drink blood”. “Oh, really??” I asked, wondering what was coming next. They put this glass full of real chicken blood in front of me! I look at it, “You must be kidding me! Drink real chicken blood??!!” “Yeah, yeah, you can drink it.” They tried to encourage me. “You're crazy, no way I will drink that” So, they had to find some red dye to make fake blood. However, they didn't give up that easily. “But, we better make the meat look real…what have we got for this?” Sure enough, it was a piece of lamb, just out of the freezer. “I'm not gonna really eat it…I'll fake it”, I said firmly. Then, I stuck the lamb in my mouth…which was by now thawed and juicy…chewed it, chewed it some more, said my lines, and spit it out after the shot. It was not really dangerous and, in a way, necessary because there were no props to fake meat. But the chicken juice thing…I don't think they had the notion that it might be poisonous (laughs). They probably thought it's really healthy…will make your sperm stronger…I don't know. (laughs)
HKCinemagic : What about your involvement on Ring of Death?
Roy Horan : I had very little to do with that film. I just did a couple of scenes in Korea and spent the rest of the time watching the filming, and supporting Hwang Jang Lee. I was also thinking how I was going to market the film overseas. So, it was a very limited involvement.
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Page 2 : A Westerner in Jackie Chan's Shadow
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Page 4 : A Superkicker's Way of Life (Hwang Jang Lee)

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