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 HKCinemagic 2

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Interview with Chee Keong Cheung, on his HK action film debut
On Bodyguard 1/1 - Page 2
Author(s) : Thomas Podvin
Date : 30/12/2008
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Chow Yun Fat
Carl Ng Ka Lung
Richard Ng Yiu Hon
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa
John Woo
Movies :
A Better Tomorrow
Bodyguard: A New Beginning
Hard Boiled
The Killer
< Previous
Page 1 : A Sino-British film-maker
Next >
Page 3 : An eclectic cast

HKCinemagic: Indeed, the dramatic and betrayal elements as well as the underworld depiction in Bodyguard: A New Beginning remind me of John Woo’s films and the 1980s/1990s HK triad films. Were you influenced by Woo for Bodyguard?
Chee Keong Cheung: Absolutely. I really admire and respect his work. His character-driven films which deal with themes of loyalty, honour, betrayal and friendship are really intriguing and Bodyguard: A New Beginning gave me the opportunity to try and tackle some of these themes. I was always really drawn by the characters in John Woo’s films and in particular his collaboration with Chow Yun Fat on films such as Better Tomorrow, The Killer and Hard Boiled. Chow Yun-Fat as actor is so versatile and has such charisma and screen presence. There was really something special about his [Woo’s] films and their collaborations. When growing up, I watched both Western and Asian movies and Bodyguard: A New Beginning was my intent to fuse the two and try and connect them together.
HKCinemagic: How do you consider your film? As a HK action film, a British film or a product of the West and the East.
Chee Keong Cheung: It’s certainly a combination between the two, a hybrid. I think it’s both British and Asian, but a film which also has its own identity. The film is shot in English and Cantonese. That was always my intention and hopefully audiences will like the approach I’ve taken.

After making Underground I wanted to make something different, try and reinvent myself. When I went to HK, I wanted to portray this clash of culture and I wanted to depict both worlds. The film opens in HK and ends in HK, with the middle section taking place in the UK. We go back and forth between the two worlds. I like to think the film is something different and unique.

HKCinemagic: Indeed it is not your typical HK pure action film; there is also betrayal themes and drama.
Chee Keong Cheung: Underground had 13 fights in the film and it was pretty much non-stop action and very different to a conventional film. I cast the talents nationwide and tried to work out who would fight who, so it was quite an organic process, and I tried to ensure there was something for everyone in the action and while it was a fiction film, stylistically, I took a more documentary approach to the visual style.

With Bodyguard: A New Beginning I suppose you could say it was back to a more conventional narrative storytelling. I tried to create some dynamic characters, situations and stories within the film, which would intertwine and cross over from Wong and his son to the girl and her bodyguard. That was the appealing part of the film and I was keen to try to explore within the film why the characters did what they did.

The film depicts two rival gangs, a long standing triad boss (Richard Ng) who has been in power for decades and is respected and a new rival gang boss (Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa) who comes in to try and take over. Richard Ng’s character, Wong, is at a point in his life where he’s examining life and looking at what he’s achieved and what he has. He’s in this strange place where he realises that it’s not necessary the life he wanted to live but this is the life he has ended up choosing to live. He’s in this contemplative state. Having witnessed so much violence and bloodshed in his lifetime, he’s reluctant to see anymore and for many this is seen as a sign of weakness.

His son, Yuen played by Carl Ng, wants to take over the business. Wong sees himself in his son and as the film progresses we see a dramatic turn of events. I’d like to think dramatically the film is about understanding and self realisation and about people looking back at what they have done and examining the choices that they’ve made in life.

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