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Interview Terence Yin: alive not dead artist
Breakthrough 1/1 - Page 3
Info
Author(s) : Arnaud Lanuque
Date : 28/12/2008
Type(s) : Interview
 
 Intext Links  
People :
Peter Chan Ho Sun
Ang Lee
Edmond Pang Ho Cheung
Johnnie To Kei Fung
Tsui Hark
Yuen Woo Ping
Movies :
Black Mask 2 : City Of Masks
Boxing Hero
Color Of Pain
Home Sweet Home
Infernal Affairs
Lara Croft Tomb Raider : The Cradle Of Life
New Police Story
The Warlords
 
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Page 2 : Typecast as a bad guy
 
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Page 4 : Heavenly Kings: revealing the entertainment industry


Finally some good guys parts
HKCinemagic: Because of this typecasting you suffered, you were able to get good guys parts in only low budget productions like Home Sweet Home or Boxing Hero. Did you work on those films because of this opportunity to play a positive character?
Terence Yin: Mostly. I’ve done a lot of low budget films. There is a period of time I decided I needed to improve my art and the best way to do it is to work more. So during a period of two to three years, I took everything I was given. Larger movies like New Police Story and a bunch of crap I won’t mention here. There is good and bad in this decision. Maybe that process wasn’t 100% helpful for my career but in term of experience, it was. I’m a much better actor after this process. You really learn your craft when you have no support, when everything else is wrong, somehow you have to maintain a certain level of integrity. Big budget productions are comfortable. You’re shooting a scene a day, maybe even less! The action set takes one or two weeks, everything is there, you have good make up, costumes… But when you do low budget movies and especially bad low budget movies, you lose your drive. There were some performances in some of those films that I thought considering the circumstances I had to deal with were good. I have done some films with four, five shooting days, horrible conditions, terrible script… The worst I did was a two-day TV shot on DV, 80 scenes in 2 days and I was in every scene. Now you can understand why I thought in retrospect it was a very good training.
 
HKCinemagic: Do you remember how long you had to work on Boxing Hero?
Terence Yin: About one month in Schenzen. But it was a really really forgettable film.
 

Boxing Hero
 
HKCinemagic: It has a very old school feeling.
Terence Yin: It’s too old. I didn’t like the action in that film. I was actually quite upset about this production because I trained for one month and a half learning boxing. I trained very hard, six days a week, getting myself ready for it. I showed up on set and they told me it’s gonna be Thai boxing and Wu Shu. I thought cheated! I did homework for this film, I showed up on set and it wasn’t what it was supposed to be. And it made me at disadvantage because my legs were not that good because I didn’t train them. And then I was having a lot of problem with the action director. It became very unpleasant. I was able to get through because I was in good shape after all this training.
 
Going international
HKCinemagic: You did three co-productions involving HK and Japan: Dead or Alive Finale, City of Lost Souls and Color of Pain. Do you think this kind of co-productions is the future of the industry?
Terence Yin: If you look at the Asian scene, no country alone is really self sustainable. Co-production is a good way to put your feet in both markets; it improves your chances to recover your cost. The rage now are China co-productions, everybody is trying to get into mainland. And I think it will continue with Hollywood co-productions with China or other countries as well.
 
HKCinemagic: Did you find it very different to work on those films compared to your other works?
Terence Yin: Every country has a different way to work. Different habits, different pace. For me, my job is the same.
 
HKCinemagic: Obviously, the Hong Kong pace is the fastest so it made those productions more comfortable, right?
Terence Yin: Actually, I’m more comfortable with the Hong Kong way. I like it fast. I like when directors know exactly what they want on the set. Some Hong Kong directors are very good at that and I respect it. I don’t really believe in the ‘try that, try this’ way. I know the way I’m supposed to play my part; I’m not discovering it on the set.
 
HKCinemagic: Black Mask 2 was an ambitious production from visionary director Tsui Hark but your part was quite limited, were you disappointed about it?
Terence Yin: I went to it because of Tsui Hark and Yuen Woo Ping. It was a cameo role and Tsui Hark asked me. I could not say no! And I’m still very happy I went for it. To work and watch people like Yuen Woo Ping and Tsui Hark work made the experience very worthwhile.
 

Black Mask 2
 
HKCinemagic: For many, it’s one of Tsui Hark’s worst works. Did you experience anything during the shooting which made you think Tsui Hark wasn’t as focused as he usually is?
Terence Yin: It’s probably a combination of things. Various elements could be the chemistry between the actors, changing the script while you are shooting and losing continuity or focus as a result…
 
HKCinemagic: Which is Tsui Hark usual way of doing things...
Terence Yin: It’s a double edge sword. On one hand, this flexibility is very important to filmmaking. But if he does it without a structure, your movie becomes just a collection of scene. That’s the danger. I wasn’t on set on the whole film so I’m not sure if that’s what happened here. And things can get mugged in editing too.
 
HKCinemagic: How did you get involved in Tomb Raider 2?
Terence Yin: It was an open casting and I won (laughs). That’s pretty much it! I met the director, talked to him for 10 minutes and a few months later he offered me the part. What I was very happy about was that the director really liked me because the role I had was written specifically for me, added to the script. That was definitely one of the bigger encouragement I received while working in this business. And I’m very happy to be, in my generation, one of the first to be part of a Hollywood production.
 
HKCinemagic: Would you like to do more of that in the future?
Terence Yin: Now it’s a little bit different. I’m really passionate about what we are trying to do with alivenotdead and I understand a lot more than I did before where I stand. To me, no matter where I go do film, I’ll never completely leave Hong Kong. Hong Kong is home. This is where my roots are, this is the place which taught me all I know.
 
HKCinemagic: Did you find the working conditions in the US production much better to build your own performance compared to HK or Chinese ones?
Terence Yin: As I said, I prefer the Hong Kong way. I like to work fast. But on the other hand, it’s also quite a treat to work on such magnificent sets and to be able to work with [so much] resources. You have everything! Acting becomes like a vacation when you’re working on productions that big, they really treat you well. And to have the opportunity to meet and work with Angelina Jolie, that’s really cool. She’s not only beautiful but also a very very good actress. To actually do scenes with her was very cool.
 
HKCinemagic: What do you think of HK actors previous attempts to work in the West?
Terence Yin: I think the challenge for Hong Kong actors trying to break out in the West are very similar to my challenges, coming from the West back to Hong Kong to work. It’s the cultural elements which are missing. I would really like to see other genres than action being seen in the West. From what I can see, there are still a lot of talents here but the West doesn’t know about it. And more and more, because of the Chinese interest and that, there are gonna be opportunities for Asian talents to cooperate with the West through co-productions and so forth.

Boxing Hero
HKCinemagic: Can it also become a problem for Hong Kong: losing those talents, which results in damaging the local cinema industry?
Terence Yin: That goes back to the fact you must nurture your talents, and to have good directing and scriptwriting talents and give them opportunities. And also feed in your actors. If you nurture the scene and get to a certain level, when you’ll have an opportunity to work on a 60 million dollars movie in the States, you’ll take it. That’s great! That’s great for Hong Kong actually. There are different levels you should look at it. For example, when The Departed, which is based on Infernal Affairs, won the Best Picture Academy Award, it was a great moment in Hong Kong as well. Because it’s a Hong Kong film that got translated into English pretty much.
 
HKCinemagic: But in the case of The Departed, when they gave the Oscar, they presented it as inspired from a Japanese film! There is still a strong lack of knowledge about the Hong Kong movie scene and I’m not sure it will benefits from it.
Terence Yin: As long as there are some ways for people to actually know, it does help the reputation of Hong Kong films and Hong Kong talents on the international stage. In many ways, there is an opportunity for Hong Kong films to continue to make more of a reputation in the West. Because I think there are people, here and now, who have the cultural sensibility to make films based on Chinese stories, Chinese characters that translate to Western audience. Ang Lee is very good at that. He’s very good at using Eastern stories telling them in a Western form. I think there are some people in Hong Kong able to do that like Peter Chan with his The Warlords.
 
HKCinemagic: Maybe you are also thinking of Johnnie To who is getting more and more recognition on the international scene.
Terence Yin: He has quite a following in Europe right?
 
HKCinemagic: Yes, indeed!
Terence Yin: Yeah Johnnie To. Edmond Pang too.
 
HKCinemagic: Edmond Pang is great but I don’t really see his work being exported in the West, it’s definitely local.
Terence Yin: What I mean is that there are newer directors than can potentially fill that void. Basically, it’s the Western educated people that are from Hong Kong. Our biggest challenge is to fight to retain our place of a cultural influence in Asia and have some impact in the West as well. To do films that are culturally influential, you have to look at Hong Kong and see what we are good at. Hong Kong still has a pretty good filming infrastructure. Hong Kong people work fast and are highly efficient and we can make films without restrictions. Aside from the co-productions we make with China or other countries, which make change the content of the films, there is another market in which you can make films without abiding to those rules. You could have a part of those whose target would be to have a resonance with Western audiences. There is an opportunity for that. Co-productions are gonna be the bread and butter to sustain the economy but maybe there should be some films geared toward the West, to help Western audiences connect with Chinese culture and Chinese stories, without the political restrictions.
 
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Page 2 : Typecast as a bad guy
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