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Interview with Brandon Rhea (with additional comments by Mike Leeder)
Arriving in Hong Kong 1/1 - Page 1
Author(s) : Arnaud Lanuque
Date : 11/3/2007
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Mike Leeder
Jingle Ma Choh Sing
Brandon Rhea
Ailen Sit Chun Wai
Michelle Yeoh
Movies :
Infernal Affairs II
Silver Hawk
Star Runner
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Page 2 : Big productions: Star Runner, Infernal Affairs 2 and…almost Ultraviolet

Continuing our exploration of the Hong Kong movie world through the eyes of westerners involved in the industry, we had the chance to discuss with German actor Brandon Rhea. Down to earth and extremely nice, the man has been involved in a few of the biggest Chinese productions of this last 3 to 4 years (Silverhawk, Star Runner, Infernal Affairs 2, Fearless). Joining him for the interview is English journalist and Fearless casting director, Mike Leeder, always ready to share his great knowledge of HK movie industry.

Arriving in Hong Kong

HKCinemagic : Brandon , can you tell us what is your background and how you found yourself in Hong Kong ?
Brandon Rhea : Basically, I came to Hong Kong by chance, in 2003 for the first time. Initially, I came to show respect to my Kung Fu Grand Master, Leung Ting. As well, I had some business in Asia . And, by chance, I met a guy named Ean Tang from Screenops. He brought me into a casting for Michelle Yeoh's Silver Hawk.
HKCinemagic : So, you have a Wing Tsun background?
Brandon Rhea : Yes, I started with Wing Tsun in 2000, in Germany , and yeah, it was one of the reason I came here. I had already met Leung Ting in Munich in 2001 and had been very impressed by him. So, I came here and that was a great thing to do! Then, up and down, it started and around September 2003, I came to Hong Kong for good.

Brandon on the left, ready to fight Michelle Yeoh (foreground)

HKCinemagic : Silverhawk was your first participation in a movie then?
Brandon Rhea : It is the first for a Chinese movie and, officially, for IMDB but I did small TV works in Germany before. But none of them are a big deal I can really talk about. It was extra works or small speaking part. And my ego is not big enough to put every single thing I did on IMDB and running around saying “I'm the greatest, I did so much!” because it's simply not (laughs).
HKCinemagic : In Silverhawk, you are playing one of the bad guy appearing in the first scene. Did you find it hard to adapt to Ailen Sit's choreography?
Brandon Rhea : Actually, he was very good and very patient. The choreography, for me, was very difficult in the two first days because I was used to another style of action. Making movies in Germany is another story. You have a guy dealing with the time schedule and if you are not on time, you are out. China, Hong Kong , is more about improvising, get the scene done and you see, they suddenly come up with another idea and say: “Oh, great, let's try this one as well”. And that's one of the beauty of making movies in Asia; not everything is planned to the last details. It's a lot more about improvisation, making an art. Sometimes, I have the feeling in the West, it's purely the money, respect the schedule, do it as fast as possible, as cheap as possible, go down, go down...
HKCinemagic : Maybe because it was a big production too, it may be a different story with local low budget films, don't you think?

Brandon Rhea : You know, I have a completely different approach about big salaries, big actors, big names. I respect them for their career but if you break it down, some of the big names, they earn 2 millions US, that's what some people don't earn in a lifetime, I think it's a big, big bubble. But that's just my personal philosophy about that. It's unreasonable. The same in Asia but, according to my personal experience, it's more fun, more “let's do it”.

Fighting against Michelle under Ailen Sit and Jingle Ma's instructions

HKCinemagic : When you did your scene for Silverhawk, did Jingle Ma controlled the action or was Ailen Sit in total freedom?
Brandon Rhea : The main thing is done by Ailen, he was basically the one leading it. But, in a mutual respect for each other, Jingle and Ailen, worked together and they discussed. Ailen did the choreography and showed it to Jingle and they would discuss it. I think there was a very good spirit between the two of them. In the end, if you look at the movie, I think there are a couple of very nice action scenes in it. As for working with Ailen, he came to me and asked me if I could do this, if I could do that. He needed to know because he didn't want to risk anything. And I was fine with it. But it was not “ok, you go there and now you jump from the roof.” He was really careful, asking if I could do it, if I wanted to do it.
HKCinemagic : Did you get along well with Michelle Yeoh?
Brandon Rhea : Michelle is a star…
HKCinemagic : Oh, is it the bubble thing you were talking about?
Brandon Rhea : No, no, the bubble thing is more for the US guys. It was a big thing to work with Michelle for me and I was very excited. She's really very skilful and talented. She has a good feel for speed and how the moves should be done. She's committed to the project and this is what you expect from somebody carrying the role.
HKCinemagic : You said you liked some action scenes, how did you find the final result as a whole?
Brandon Rhea : The scene with the bungee, I think the idea is great but it looks like they run out of time because they could have done more or another way.
Mike Leeder : They shot a lot of things for Silverhawk and didn't made it in the final cut. For Brandon's scene, you can notice they are 2 guys and then on the truck's roof they suddenly become 4.
Brandon Rhea : It was me and Max Rudolph first, driving the truck. And then, there was an Italian guy who came later, a really, really good martial artist, and they did stuff with him and I feel really sorry for him because it's not in the movie.
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Page 2 : Big productions: Star Runner, Infernal Affairs 2 and…almost Ultraviolet

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