|Peter Chan : I didn’t put this in because it’s recurrent in my films, but because it is really in Chang Cheh’s movie [Ed.: The Blood Brothers, 刺馬, Chik Ma, which inspired The Warlords
] and really in the historical facts. But funny enough, that is not what attracted me to Chang’s movie. I did not make this movie because I remember that love triangle in his movie. Even though it resembles most or my other movies that part to me was very typical in Chinese period pieces. A woman’s extramarital relationship with a man always means sex and not love. What I’ve tried to do here was to make it looks like a bit more than just a sexual affair.
You know that Jet Li will never be convinced to make a sex scene. Jet Li is not the kind of man to believe in that kind of hunger, when a man tears the cloths off, etc. It doesn’t work. So I actually made it very much more about a certain kind of fetish. Not sexual fetish but love fetish. Like the woman is obsessed with intellectuals, with literacy. She lives in a world where all the men in her life are illiterate. Andy’s and Takeshi’s characters are. When she was young she was taken from her home, sold to Yangzhou, to be what they called Yangzhou peonies. A Yangzhou peony (brothel) is a sort of big geisha house, but they are not really geishas. They buy young girls from the small villages and train them to be courtesans, concubines or prostitutes. Prostitutes in old China were of a very high standing. They all read, write and sing, play flute and harp.
Xu was just about to be sold of when she was 16. Her childhood sweetheart from her village, Andy Lau, came and rescued her. He killed 8 -10 men when he was barely 18. And the two of them fled into the mountains and became bandits. These are all back stories we don’t see in the movie. And then, when Jet came along, he was the first literate man she ever saw. Andy thought she loved him because they were childhood sweetheart and he rescued her when she was 16. But to her, her life ended when she was 16.
During the 4-5 years she spent training in Yangzhou she got obsessed with a better life. Which is very normal for women today. It’s actually very normal for human being. But in period Chinese literature we don’t talk about human nature. They always think that these things are immoral. Most of the Chinese heroes and heroines would never react like that. I am actually trying to portray a very contemporary woman who loves nice cloths, nice jewelry, and she just got stopped because her childhood friend just stopped her. She was being put down as a prostitute but she wanted to be in that world. So when she met Jet years later, she felt in love with him.