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Through the Lens of Arthur Wong
The Kung Fu pace 1/1 - Page 2
Info
Author(s) : David Vivier
Thomas Podvin
Date : 12/1/2005
Type(s) : Interview
 
 Intext Links  
People :
Lau Kar Leung
Movies :
The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin
Arson - The Criminals, Part III
Shaolin Mantis
Companies :
Shaw Brothers
 
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HKCinemagic: One of the first movies you worked on what the 36th Chamber of Shaolin, a kung fu film. At this time and with the equipment available, was it easy to shoot kung fu films?
Arthur Wong: Actually, the 36th Chamber of Shaolin was my third or fourth movie, the first one, was about criminals [Ed.: we believe it is Arson - The Criminals, Part III]. [But] it was not Shaolin Mantis.

The second movie was actually a ‘special-effect film’, some kind of Buddha movie. Three Buddhas would appear in the same frame, at this time, we had to do double or triple exposure and had to time the footage. We didn’t have a recorder or video. We just wrote down the footage number, and then we’d raise the hand to give instruction to the actors. We did the special effects this way.

And that made me very famous [in the field]. Lau Kar Leung, one of the big directors, was never satisfied with the cameramen and he always asked the Shaw Brothers to hire a Japanese cameraman. They told him there was a new kid (me) who just came up, and asked him to try. They said “Anyway the set is already there, and you don’t have to stop. If you don’t like him, in three days you can fire him.” And then I went in. It was a big challenge.

But once I walked in, Mr. Lau was very much impressed. When I was in secondary school I learnt gymnastics and I could flip and I had also several years of martial arts training so my movements were always in synch with what the actors were doing. Because I knew how to do kung fu so every momentum of the camera was synchronized with the actor’s movements. When that picture came out, people were saying “oh, the camera can play kung fu!” Since then I was the “authorized young guy” by Mr. Lau, which meant I only had to work for him.


36th Chamber of Shaolin
HKCinemagic: How did you work out the filming of the fight scenes, did Lau Kar-leung give you special instructions on set?
Arthur Wong: Just because I have learnt those martial art moves I knew every momentum, so I could understand how high the actor would jump and how fast he would do the movement. At this time, we didn’t have a video monitor. We only trusted the cameraman, he’d say yes or he’d say no. And everyday, we would watch the dailies from the day before.
 
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