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Interview with Ninja director Godfrey Ho
Working in the USA 1/1 - Page 4
Author(s) : Arnaud Lanuque
Date : 3/3/2007
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Loren Avedon
Sibelle Hu Hui Zhong
Ng See Yuen
Yukari Oshima
Cynthia Rothrock
Robin Shou Wan Bo
Bolo Yeung Tze
Movies :
No Retreat, No Surrender 2 : Raging Thunder
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Page 3 : The IFD era
Next >
Page 5 : Directing Gweilos

HKCinemagic: Can you tell us how you got involved with Honour and Glory?
Godfrey Ho: At that time, Cynthia Rothrock was still [bankable]. So I talked to her in the US .
HKCinemagic: Had you ever any contacts with her when she was doing movies in HK?
Godfrey Ho: No, I didn't know her at all. But I knew she was quite sellable so I contacted her to ask if she was willing to do something for us. “Ok, just pay me,” she said. “All right, no problem.” There is a company in Washington DC called Action Star that produce movies and whose boss is a Kung Fu master, Tai Yim. He was running a Kung Fu school and had many students knowing Kung Fu. So I met them: “you have many people doing Kung Fu and know how to play; but you don't know how to make movies, let's join together.” And we got Cynthia Rothrock there to make Honour and Glory. We shot the whole movie there. It was a low budget but it made money. Then we did Undefeatable. For Honour and Glory, we had Cynthia Rothrock only for one week. A really tough schedule for her. And for me too. So for Undefeatable, I said “let's do a whole movie.” A contract for a whole movie, for 4 weeks of shooting cost more of course but we can sell it to the US market, video rights, and it's quite good. Honor and Glory and Undefeatable made money because Cynthia Rothrock was so famous all around the world at that time. She's the only American girl who can fight! So, the people like her. After that, I made another one called Manhattan Chase. But the video market fell down. So we couldn't sell it for US market. And we aimed at American market, that's why we make this kind of American movie. If we can't get 50% to 60% from the American market, we lose money easily. Because we cannot release this film in Hong Kong. B-grade American movies cannot be released in Hong Kong , because there are no names like Tom Cruise. So, we stopped and didn't make a fourth one.
HKCinemagic: Cynthia Rothrock was used to work in Hong Kong so I guess she was quite flexible.
Godfrey Ho: She's the kind of very professional American actress. She's good, arrives on the set on time -- really professional. Unlike Sibelle Hu, who was really not professional.
HKCinemagic: Did you get any problem in working with Loren Avedon whose reputation is not very good?
Godfrey Ho: Oh, Loren! Yeah, yeah, he's quite emotional actually. He's an action actor but quite a troublemaker. He always brings his personal affairs on set. “Godfrey, my wife and I had an argument…” “Oh, shit, don't bring this on set. Today we're shooting the movie: “But I don't feel well because of my wife.” Me: “Oh, come on! You're not professional. On set, I forget my wife in Hong Kong. I forget everything about Hong Kong. On set, I'm here to do my work.” That's being professional. That's why he's not a very good actor and has difficulty to find work in Hollywood . He did one movie with Ng See Yuen [No Retreat No Surrender: Raging Thunder] and looked like he was workable. That's how he got a name for himself.
HKCinemagic: Can you tell us more about your collaboration with Tai Yim?
Godfrey Ho: He's good. He's a very good martial arts master. Actually, he has one younger brother [Sin Yim] and that's him who runs the school in Washington DC . They were the executive producers on those movies because I didn't know the Stat e s too much so I preferred to let them handle production and distribution. Because Sifu Tai has so many students and one of them was a lawyer and he could do business with the distributors there. But unfortunately, he didn't pay enough attention to this business. I told him “I bring you in this career, you can continue as a filmmaker.” He wanted to be but he didn't. I gave him a start; his school got a name, publicity. He couldn't do a good job for that. It's a pity.
HKCinemagic: Were you satisfied with the choreography he did for the movie?
Godfrey Ho: Oh, yes, it's ok. I taught him how to do choreography. Unfortunately, he didn't want to show in the movie the Chinese martial artists. Luckily, his other students could play well. Especially with some kind of weapon. The guy with the long knife [Kwan Dao] , that kind, he could really use those well. This guy's name is John [John Miller] and he's running a gymnasium. He worked his body but also learned Kung Fu for years from Tai Yim. That's why it was easy to get those American action actors. They could've really expanded as a little production company, doing distribution as well, after that but they were not very good businessmen (laughs).
HKCinemagic: Undefeatable exists in two versions. One is for the Asian market under the name Bloody Mary Killer with extra scenes of Yukari Oshima.
Godfrey Ho: Yeah, yeah, I see you've really done good research (laughs). I had to do two versions in order to sell in Asia . That's why I added scenes with Yukari Oshima and Robin Shou, to make the story more oriental. It works. We managed to sell it in Taiwan for good money, otherwise, with only American guys, C grade cast, it's difficult.
HKCinemagic: Which version do you prefer between the two?
Godfrey Ho: The Chinese of course. But it's two different styles. Because with the low budget, I can only direct in a simple way, no dolly shot, more steady, it saves time. In Hong Kong , we can use dolly shots.
HKCinemagic: Do you know the last fight of Undefeatable is considered as a cult classic on the internet?
Godfrey Ho: I don't know. It was not too bad. I wanted it to be less oriental and more American style. So I let them use some kind of weapon and their body. They are two strong, big guys so I wanted to show a strong power. At that time, it was quite good because these two guys studied martial arts under Sifu Tai. They could do whatever, they could really perform like Chinese guys. Like Bolo Yeung you see. And even Bolo is less good because they could kick quite well too. Bolo cannot kick well .
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Page 5 : Directing Gweilos

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