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Statistics :
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Interview Bey Logan
Interview : part 1 1/1 - Page 1
Author(s) : Arnaud Lanuque
Date : 28/12/2004
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Scott Adkins
Jackie Chan
Edison Chen Koon Hei
Felix Chong Man Keung
Gary Daniels
Winston Ellis
Roy Horan
Mark Houghton
Sammo Hung Kam Bo
Dante Lam Chiu Yin
Bruce Lee
Jet Li
Bey Logan
Eddie Maher
Angela Mao Ying
Richard Norton
Maggie Q
Jimmy Wang Yu
Carter Wong Ka Tat
Wong Jing
Wong Kar Wai
John Woo
Movies :
Ballistic Kiss
Black Mask 2 : City Of Masks
Circus Kid
City Hunter
Colour Of The Truth
Danny The Dog
Drunken Master
Extreme Challenge
Fist Of Fury
Gen X Cops
Gen Y Cops
Infernal Affairs
Infernal Affairs II
The Magnificent Butcher
The Medallion
Project A
Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow
The Touch
The Twins Effect
Winners And Sinners
Companies :
Golden Harvest
Seasonal Film Corporation
Lexic :
Hung Gar
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Page 2 : Interview : part 2

The Hong Kong film industry has found its spokesperson, in the person of Bey Logan. Bey Logan started defending this cinema in the English magazines Combat and Impact, then with his famous audio commentaries on HK Legends DVDs. Now based in Hong Kong with his family, he takes part in cinema by producing and writing scripts, and by playing in numerous films.

Bey Logan describes himself as a person of communication, a kind of evangelist of the Hongkongese cinema. Enthusiastic, very open, he shared with us his experiences in a rather long but very informative interview. It was obviously a real pleasure to meet the man on his own field, in Hong Kong, and to talk at length with him. In the Anglo-Saxon world, he is renowned as a genuine expert in Cantonese cinema, and it is true that he is never short of stories and anecdotes in his audio commentaries.
Born in England, Logan has been fascinated by Hong Kong cinema since his childhood. A martial artist and a fan, he writes down his love for this cinema in various magazines and also publishes a book Hong Kong Action Cinema.

HK Action Cinema de Bey LoganBy settling in Hong Kong in the mid-90s, he makes friends with Donnie Yen and gets involved in several of his films (Circus Kid, Ballistic Kiss and Legend of the Wolf).

Bey Logan also worked for several local production and distribution companies, such as Media Asia Group and Emperor Multimedia Group (EMG). Recently, he has founded his own production company “Shankara Productions”, and admits to us that he is more at ease behind than before the camera; as a producer and scriptwriter. Which does not prevent his numerous friends in the industry to call upon him for various productions. Here are some of the most famous or most expected ones: Twins Effect, Hit Team 2, Infernal Affairs 2 and Wong Kar-wai's 2046.

a gweilo in HK, his beginning and carrier

Arnaud Lanuque: Let's go to the origin : How did you discover HK cinema and how did you get involved in it ?
Bey Logan : When I first saw an HK film, I felt not a sense of “well, this is something new”, but I found it strangely familiar, as if it was something just right for me.

HKCM : Your first movie was a Bruce Lee movie ?
Bey Logan : I think so. You know what? My recollection is just being fascinated with the ‘Kung Fu' TV series, Chinese martial arts, Asian culture, philosophy... Totally fascinated! And finding Bruce Lee was just like “Here is a guy who is encapsulating all the stuff I was interested in already”, rather than finding Bruce Lee and then becoming interested in martial arts and Chinese culture. I was already into it from birth. It's interesting, cause my Mom, see, I didn't grew up with my birth mother, my birth mother, Cherie, lives in Australia and she was learning Karate from my step father, Tino Ceberano, who is the instructor of Richard Norton. So Richard is like my uncle or elder brother. I was living in England , growing up with my adopted parents, fascinated by martial arts and Asian culture and my (real) mom, who I had no contact with until years later, was living in an Asian culture and doing martial arts. So it was weird, as if, in some way, she was communicating with me: “Hey you'll be into this stuff !”. And I totally was. It's strange thinking we were on these two parallel tracks in life.

So I was really into it when I discovered Bruce. And then Bruce Lee came and went and all my friends who had been into Bruce Lee or the Kung Fu TV series became more interested in other things, like skateboarding or BMX, things that were popular. And I stayed interested in martial arts and particularly in the potential of martial arts movies. And I saw loads after Bruce Lee, like Jimmy Wang Yu, Carter Wong et Angela Mao. And then I was lucky enough to move in London and I went to watch these films at the HK Culture Centre on Gerard Street . I think they were re-runs and they were showing films like Drunken Master, Magnificent Butcher, Snake In The Eagle’s Shadow… " Just what the hell is this ? HK movies are really good again!”. Cause those ones in the seventies, they had their moments, but they were pretty hokey. These were good films. They were unavailable on video for a long time, so you couldn't show them to anybody.

Then I started to get them on pirate tapes, they were all in Chinese with subtitles, but you showed the action scenes to people, and they were like “that's pretty damn cool!” And then there was a jump because it was kung fu movies and then you had Winners and Sinners, Project A and all these other films. And you said it's not kung fu, they've got stunts and comedy and girls and everyone was like “yeah, yeah, yeah...”. For what its worth I was one of the very first beating the drum. Luckily, I had a magazine called Combat at that time so I was putting stuff in there to say “Hey, these films are really great!”. I thought they were great, and I had this idea, since the very first time I became aware of HK cinema, to work for the industry. So it was like incremental steps: Writing about it in a magazine, writing a book about it, being an actor in the films, being a writer/producer... And still the journey continues.


HKCM : Did you find it difficult to adapt yourself to working conditions here ?
Bey Logan : I think the hardest thing is the cultural difference. I think it's a very good experience for a white man in the 21 st century to experience racism, especially for a writer. Cause most white people, they pay lip service to how terrible discrimination is, but they really have no idea. But I've definitely, in my time, been discriminated against and I really learned that you cannot... You know, Mark (Houghton) was very uptight about that, very confrontational, “Don't you call me gweilo  ! ". And you can't change people like that. You change people by having a good heart and by doing good work. I call it ‘tolerance through talent'. If you are talented, they'll be tolerant of you.

I'll give you an example. When I first came to work at Media Asia, we'd have lunch hour, and when they said “We're all gonna have lunch”, I'd say “I'll come !”, and they'd say “Oh...But we're having Chinese food...” and I'd say “Oh, but I like Chinese food !” and they'd say “But we're gonna speak Chinese” and I'd say “But I'm learning Cantonese !” and then they'd say “Oh, well, maybe next time…”. So I'd go and have a sandwich by myself, and sulk! And it was because I was a Westerner. If a black person was working in a company in England and the co workers said “Oh you can't have lunch with us, because we're going to have ‘white people' food” or “because we're going to be speaking in a white people accent”, it would be considered outrageous, the idea that you would not include somebody on the basis of race!

Even in the DVD or, rather, back then, video stores… They may have some Chinese films without subtitles and the woman at the door check out would be like “You know this is a Hong Kong movie, this is not subtitled, you're sure you want it? You don't want one of the American movies over there?” Imagine in America , a Chinese guy heading to a video store and someone saying “I'm sorry, sir, but you're buying a Tom Cruise movie, I know you're Chinese, so I think you should buy a Jackie Chan  movie”. It would be a scandal! But in Hong Kong , I feel that these kind of things happen a lot. Maybe we're “fair game”. The local Chinese have been discriminated against by the British for so long!

HKCM: You think if you were able to speak Cantonese fluently, it would make things easier ?
Bey Logan : I do speak Cantonese now. Not completely but enough, around 80%. I don't believe anyone who isn't a native speaker who says they understand 100%! Language has nothing to do with it. It's just that you are a Westerner and you always will be. But you'll be tolerated and accepted, and you learn a lot about yourself through having these difficulties. And that's the way. By being nice and warm to people. Some of the white guys over here, some people you're writing about, have really thin skin. They became a little gang of westerners “Don't mess with us we are the Westerners !” You know, with big muscles and everything. “Don't call me gweilo or I'll beat you up!” or whatever. You can make people scared of you, but that's not how you change people. That's why none of those guys ever really had careers, in the sense of a progression, rather than being at the whim of circumstance.

None of the westerners you're writing about ever really had positions in the industry, because they never developed the necessary relationships. Roy Horan ( formerly a producer at Seasonal Films) did, he's a very good guy. I think it's very interesting, so many people, including Roy and myself, come from the martial arts but I think you're not a real martial artist unless you have as well, as the physical, a spiritual life. Which is something Mark Houghton and Winston Ellis (see after) never had, Winston Ellis never had, most of them never had... Roy has it; I hope I have it, too. Roy is in a very particuliar branch of yoga, not just the physical practice of yoga but the philosophical practice. And I'm a Buddhist. And I think people like us survive better in HK. It's because you have a technology on how to deal with it. It's like resolving something. “Oh why am I angry? Why am I angry?” Just get rid of it, you don't have to be driven by it. That helps me a lot.


HKCM : Do you feel any differences with the Chinese who have been raised in the west ?
Bey Logan : Oh yeah ! We don't have enough of them! When I came in the business, and to a certain extent even today, most of the people working in HK film industry are not even well educated by Hong Kong standards. They are stuntmen or people who rose up from doing other jobs. The industry wasn't this sort of place where well-educated people went to work. Those people were good at kung fu or action or had a good talent for filmmaking. There are people there like John Woo, who is very sophisticated and very educated, self educated, but most are not: Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung whoever.

Over time, they became far more tolerant in understanding Western culture but you can understand when they first met western people they were like “what's this shit?” They just never had this experience. It's much like when Chinese people go into the west and put the shoe on the other foot. It's probably much stronger in western society, the potential of racism toward foreigners, more than here, here it's less. But it's still there. And I'm glad I don't get it so much anymore. But I really appreciate having had this experience. You grow through burning. It's a very good experience.

bey logan scripts

HKCM : Can you tell us about your first involvement in scripting movies, Tiger Storm , and your relation with Mark Houghton ?
Bey Logan : I was living in England at the time, writing for a magazine called Impact. At that time, a gentleman Mark Houghton, he was my friend, my kung fu instructor and my partner in a small company called BeyMark. He had a good friend in Hong Kong, Eddie Maher, they were gonna do a film together and needed somebody to write the script and help produce the movie. We got Gary Daniels (seen in City Hunterwith Jackie Chan) to star in the film. So I went to Milan to do film sales and start the film rolling. I came to Hong Kong to write the script, and it was a very difficult production, I don't want to go into it blow by blow but I don't necessarily think that Mark, who is a really good kung fu guy, and Eddy, who is a good businessman, were cut out to be film producers! And I think that's proved by the fact that after Tiger Storm they haven't produced any films since then! It was frustrating.

I was suggesting this and that and they always said “No, we'll do it our own way.” And then they ran out of money, one third of the way through. I said that we should cut a trailer and go to the film markets and raise more money on Gary 's name, and finish the film. And what happened is that an American came in, a very smart guy called Robert Vince, and he bought out the production. He cut a trailer, went to the film markets, sold the film, and, I think, he raised US$ 2.3m which was what you could get on Gary 's name a few years ago, on this kind of film. (Vince) made so much money he didn't need to use any of (the Hong Kong) footage so he cut everything out from Hong Kong and he used my basic script to shoot the film in Canada . And I do think it's one of Gary 's best film. Cary Tagawa was the bad guy and Julia Nickson-Soul the love interest.

HKCM: So we can no longer say it's a HK movie ?
Bey Logan : No. The title was even changed in White Tiger . At the end of the day, the only people who worked on the original and got their name on it were Gary as the star and me as the writer. It was funny what happened. I had my argument with Mark and Eddy, and I went off to China , in a huff!, to make (the film) Circus Kid with Donnie (Yen). And then after that, I was doing other business, but I was still trying to get involved in the (film) industry. I went to the American film market and when I was walking around I saw this poster for this movie which was still called Tiger Storm . I went in to see the guy (selling it) and I said, “You know, I wrote this movie and I never got paid” and he said “All right! Here's your cheque!” So I was very glad I went! And I think I'm one of the only ones who got paid, with Gary , of course, but he, too, was an innocent party, so he deserved to get paid! Unfortunately, that movie was the end of a great friendship. We had been like a band of brothers, with me, Winston Ellis, Mark, Eddie and a few other people. After that, we all took separate ways, for me it was down hill all the way, and all of them went on to greater glory, damn it!

HKCM : It is known there are big differences between what you write and the final result on the screen...
Bey Logan : Yeah, tell me about that ! I'm not happy with any of those things I've done for different reasons and I'm still trying and trying...

HKCM : There was many differences in Ballistic Kiss ?
Bey Logan : Oh... Huge! I'll let you see the Ballistic Kiss script, huge! I mean film is a collaborative medium, I just don't think any of the films I've done had more than about 40% of what I wanted in. And people on the Internet get very critical and I completely agree with them. You know, there are two responses. One is to give up and stop, or you just keep trying harder. Enough people have read my scripts and thought, “this guy has ability”, in Media Asia, at EMG, in America and elsewhere. I still think there is potential here in Hong Kong so it's just fine. I think the original script for Highbinders is good, The Medallion is still a good movie but not what I originally thought it would be. On Ballistic Kiss, Donnie shot the film he wanted to make. And there are movies like Gen Y Cops where it was really tough to do, but in the end is kind of a fun movie.
HKCM : On Gen Y Cops you wrote the English dialogues, right?
Bey Logan : No, that was Gen X Cops. On Gen Y Cops I co wrote the script. The story was by the director and one of the scriptwriters, Felix Chong. He's a very talented scriptwriter; he just won the award for Infernal Affairs (HK Film Awards 2003). They already came up with a story, and then an American company came in to co -produce the film and asked that it be, at least, half in English. So I came in and started, basically, writing scenes for people like Maggie Q, Edison Chen … In the end, some of the stuff was mine, some stuff was not and I got the co writing credit on the American print. We had a big fight about it in HK. My argument was that the script is what people say and do in the scene and that film is like 70% in English, and of that 70%, all except for one scene, the one everybody cites, is written by me.

The scene I didn't write is the one on the docks, a really terrible scene where Edison and Richard were kind of improvising and I had just started on the picture and I came in to try to help on the scene but it was so bad that you couldn't do anything with it. And it was a tough shooting, in one night, to do all the guns and everything with the Jumbo (restaurant) in the background. There's one good scene that I wrote, and pretty much directed, which is the one in the hospital, the one that starts with the Steadicam shot. Its almost from a different movie, and I thought Paul (Rudd) and Maggie (Q) were very good in it. Paul was interviewed by The Face magazine in London, and they asked him what was his favourite line of dialogue from any of his movies, and he quoted “Roxanne Barr Arnold will be President of the United States before you two punks see the light of the day,” which is from that scene.

Gen Y Cops

action made in hong kong

HKCM : You've seen many action scenes during your in your life...
Bey Logan : Oh, too many probably ! !
HKCM : I'm sure it makes you have a very precise idea of how an action scene should be shot. So can you share with us your experience when you were involved in this kind of scenes?
Bey Logan : Most of the people, it's changing a bit now, but they have no idea of the demands. The one thing that people don't realise is how many times you have to do the same motion with speed, power and acting again, again and again. You see the film, you see one shot: “It's just one kick, I can do that !”. But when you do it you have to kick forty times! It might not be your fault: The lighting's wrong, the sound... It requires stamina, timing... I thought in my day I was, ok, a decent martial artist, but I never thought I was a great film fighter. I never had that timing. Real martial arts are about being out of beat with somebody, films martial arts is about being in beat with them. You need timing, if you miss one time, you're going to be out of time with them and they will wonder what you are going to do.
HKCM: How did you end up fighting Donnie Yen in ‘Circus Kids'?

Bey Logan : We met this guy, met the producer, the producer wanted a western guy in the movie, but I don't think it would've made much a difference. Donnie is so quick. It made it hard for me probably, but I'm glad I got to fight Donnie because I think it's an honour. Even if I had a double and he had a double and we didn't really show our different fighting styles, Donnie gives you the same kind of feeling as the guys who fought Bruce Lee (must have). The silly thing is, we could have done a fight where I got to do more stuff, but the stuff they were asking me to do... You see me doing stuff, but it's evidently not a Southern (Chinese kung fu) style, but they ignored that.

I could do some of those things with my hands, but they didn't think it was good. They wanted more of those Northern movements, so I was saying “Why wouldn't I do more powerful stuff, or do some more hand techniques?” That's actually my forte! I think the choreographer was like kind of having a little fun with me, at my expense. “He can't do it, we'll double him, the double will do this...” If he was going to do something like Northern Leg and Southern Fist, I would be the Southern Fist and I'm confident I could do that. In the fight you see me doing this motion ( Bey make a Hung Gar movement with his hands ) but we never really get the space to do that. And in Fist of Fury they wanted me to be a boxer. So I never really got to show the Hung Gar the way Mark (Houghton) did. And Mark's much, much better than me, but I'd still have liked to show off a little bit!


HKCM : You've good hopes to do it in the future ?
Bey Logan : I'm really not interested in fighting roles. It's a lot of hard work! I picked up a few injuries in the films I've done in the past. I did a little action on Twins Effect but you know it's not my forte. I'm much better behind the cameras. I'm still training in martial arts for the fun, and train my kids or whatever. I can still kick over your head without warming up, which probably a lot of guys at 41 can't! I'm still training for life, not films. I let the other guys do it... Scott Adkins, from England , I think he should be the next great thing in the martial arts. He's great! We used him on Medallion , and he's so good. He fights with Jackie and he's doing the Jet Li, Danny The Dog. He's the kind of guy who bypasses Hong Kong a little bit, but he's the kind of guy who would have come to Hong Kong in the 80ies. He's got a Brummie accent, but, then, nobody's perfect…

Sammo Hung and Bey Logan

HKCM : You think he will continue to work in HK ?
Bey Logan : Well, he did Black Mask 2in Thailand.
HKCM: I'm not sure Black Mask 2 will be a big hit and will help him much..
Bey Logan : I couldn't give you a precise answer on that, but I didn't like it much.

asiatisation of western cinema or westernisation of hk cinema ?
HKCM : When you see the growing trend for HK movies and the growing number of fans in the world, do you feel a pride as being a part of this growing interest through your works in magazines, DVDs and the industry ?
Bey Logan : If you said to me “What is the main motivation of your life ? Is it money or fame or what...?”. I'd say it's basically to communicate with people. So whether that's writing a film, doing a book, doing a magazine article, talking to you or doing a DVD commentary. It's communicating with people, sharing my goals, my ideas, my knowledge or experience, such as it is. I get a kick out of doing that. In terms of Hong Kong film fandom, I'm not one of those guys saying “Oh, all those other people are just coming on the bandwagon…” As it happens, I was there at the beginning, but it doesn't really matter. Doesn't matter when you joined the HK films fandom, all that matters is the way you are today, what you're doing today. And if you're doing stuff that satisfies you today, that's all that matters. Ric Meyers, was around before any of us, and sometimes I experience from him a little resentment that he should be producing films or writing movies or should be doing this or doing that, because he was there first. It doesn't matter when he was there, it matters what he can do now, today. Everybody has a part to play. But I'm very proud of the fact that I played a part in communicating Hong Kong cinema to the whole wide world, but I'm even more proud of the fact that I could actually be part of the industry.

HKCM : You think it's something which can be changed ? Cause the industry has always done that.
Bey Logan : I hope so. I'm fighting for it. There's two levels of filmmaking. You can still do films for the local market. It's the easy way cause the local marker it very tolerant. You can get films as good as Infernal Affairs or get films as poor as... You know, I don't want to say, but like some local cheap movies, like some of the Wong Jing's films. And they still make money cause it's in Cantonese, there are local stars, people find it funny... It's cheap and funny. They enjoy it, great! There should be that kind of filmmaking. It's almost like the Roger Corman filmmaking or the Franchise kind of film, but you also need to do bigger films cause the overseas market is important. And I think that today the big films they have been doing (in Hong Kong ), it's like trying to build a Ferrari in a stock car garage. HK movies are like stock cars; an international movie is a Ferrari. A Hollywood action film is a Ferrari and is built in a different garage and what we've been trying to do is to build a Ferrari using the method of building a stock car. And you can't do that! So you look at films in the last couple of years including The Medallion, The Touch, Extreme Challenge, Black Mask 2 … All these films that are obviously shot in English, created to compete with American movies, but can't really be compared to American standards.
HKCM : You think the industry is ready to make such a deep change ?
Bey Logan : I see it happening. People accepting that you have to have script development. You take an idea for film, develop it, develop it, develop it before production. One of our very very smart special effect guys on The Medallion , had a T Shirt : “Fix it in pre ”. Don't wait to fix it in post. Fix it in ‘pre' means fixing while you're filming, get ready before you start to shoot. You get the script ready, you get the cast ready, everything prepared, and you know what to do. You got a schedule, you stick to the schedule and you shoot the movie. That's what they did on Infernal Affairs . That's why Infernal Affairs works so well, to me that's a big part of it. The story is so well told. Even when they brought an extraneous stuff: There is this Taiwanese singer, Elva Hsiu, and obviously they were going to shoot her scene in the Mandarin dialect, but they did it in an intelligent way so that little scene doesn't mean anything, but they put it in there and it's done in a smart way and is kept in the structure of the script. I really admire them for doing that film and I think it's a good sign. When something succeeds people copy it.
HKCM : How do you see Infernal Affairs for a local movie ? More local or more international?
Bey Logan : It's an oddity. It's a HK film produced using quite Western methods and it works very well. Infernal Affairs was produced in a more disciplined, Hollywood style and then (the remake rights were) sold to Brad Pitt in the biggest sale ever of a ( Hong Kong ) film. That tells people something! Now there is a sense that the industry is recovering and I'm glad to be part of it. I think I was right to do my best, to keep on, to bring whatever my talents are, to try to make the films better. I think there are two responses to people criticising you: Get all mad at them or keep trying to do better. My response to every criticism is to try and do better. You know there are a lot of people on the Internet who are criticising me, and kind of creating stuff. I imagine many of them living in their parent's basement, living a pretty horrible life, no girlfriend, maybe... I think some of them are just plain jealous! “Bey's living in HK, Bey's friends with Jackie and Donnie, hanging out wih Maggie Q, dating actresses and models…”. A great life! On Medallion I was paid to live in Thailand for weeks on end... They all want to live my life. “You come and live my life and I will live yours.” They'll all be over here in a moment! I think sometimes the journey is better than the destination. I think the films I have done are not that good, but that the journey of my life has been fantastic, and I always did the best I could.

HKCM : It seems like you entered the industry the good moment. I'm not sure it would have been ready to change in the 80s and be so opened to westerners.
Bey Logan : There were a couple of guys behind the cameras during the 80s : Andre Morgan at Golden Harvest and Roy (Horan at Seasonal). I actually don't think I came at the right moment. I think it was a lot more fun living in HK in the 80s. The weird thing is, now, as I get into my middle years, I have actually started acting again, which I didn't think was going to happen. I played about 8 vampires in Twins Effect , which I also produced. I was always there so Donnie would say “Hey, Bey, put on a costume because we need another vampire!”, and I'd be “Again?”. And I did a day on the new Wong Jing film Colour of The Truth playing a chess champion, and I'm in Infernal Affairs 2 as a police commander, and I shot a scene for Wong Kar Wai 2046, and Dante Lam asked me about coming in to play a part in Hit Team 2. So it's like my late life resurgence as a character actor. That's Hong Kong for you!
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