Legend of A Fighter 2005
Wang Bin and Li Feng, scriptwriters for Hero and House of Flying Daggers, have been called up urgently by Bill Kong to amend 《霍元甲》 Legend of A Fighter’s script. After much hesitation, Wang Bin reveals, “It’s a very tough job for we have merely over 10 days to give a complete overhaul to nearly every major part of the script. However, the original characters and locations will be retained. Jet Li is practically behind the entire structure of the script, and through this collaboration, I learn that Jet Li hopes to fulfill a very big wish of his, having gained, apparently, a higher perspective on life and humanity. He resides within the character, he is the persona.
“I am given a chance to realise my full potential, and to prove myself. I am grateful to Jet Li, to Bill Kong, for given me such a challenge. This is a kungfu biopic that is out of ordinary, it takes on a new interpretation on the folk hero Huo Yuan Jia and also bears insights on humanity. Not only does it have many fights, but also lots of dramas, and the characters and storyline are not related to the ATV TV series Legendary Fok [in which Yuen Cheung Yan was the choreographer]. Huo Yuan Jia’s friendship, romance, and kinship are shown not only through the dialogues, we are creating a Huo Yuan Jia that is not just a hero but also an ordinary human. Jet Li is very sensitive to the script, he would be able to detect immediately if there is any line or behaviour in the script that does not befit that of Huo Yuan Jia, his exacting meticulousness is very shocking.” Nanfang City Daily
Actress Sun Li, who will be joining the production in the middle of the month, has mentioned earlier that she had seen the script undergoing many amendments since she read the first version in February, and noticed that there were vast differences after each amendment was made.
The first four days were basically spent on filming Huo Yuan Jia when he is still a kid, who though physically feeble, is strong in willpower and vows to take up martial arts training. Jet Li, who did not have any scenes at the moment, was spotted arriving in Manchurian outfit, sporting half-shaven head and wearing a pigtail. Jet Li toured the soundstage, talking to the crew and giving suggestions. Then he communicated with Yuen Wo Ping, and went through a few moves with him. He left the set in less than half an hour. In a few days, Jet Li will be filming a scene at Siamese Villa in which he fights some thugs in an attempt to rescue a kid who is kidnapped and tied up to a tree.
Yuen Wo Ping has recruited many stuntmen for the film and they are busy practising their own forms under his supervision. Being a closed production, the stuntmen would not reveal anything concerning the plot, except that there are many new elements being incorporated into the action. Yuen Wo Ping has devised many new action sequences for the movie, based on Ronny Yu’s request, with many sophisticated, demanding stunts that are rarely seen before. Given Yuen Wo Ping’s exemplary choreography for House of Fury despite the shortcomings of the mostly non-martial artists cast, the fights in Legend of Fighter should be well worth anticipating given Jet Li’s strong background in martial arts. While Yuen Wo Ping is very strict on the set, he also takes good care of the actors’ safety and welfare. Shanghai Afternoon Post, Xiaoxiang Morning News
— Legend of a Fighter 2005: Paw Hee Ching and Sun Li —
Hong Kong actress Paw Hee Ching will be joining Legend of A Fighter 《霍元甲》 soon as Huo Yuan Jia’s mother and she will have lots of scenes opposite Jet Li. The production has also stepped up security ever since Jet Li’s outfit was leaked to ensure that no unauthorised personnel could enter the set, and nothing else gets leaked prematurely, such as Sun Li’s looks in the movie. Sun Li plays Yue Ci, a blind village girl who attends to the needs of Huo Yun Jia and consoles him when he pines away over the death of his wife and daughter, and moves to the countryside in withdrawal. Jiefang Daily, Sohu
— Legend of A Fighter 2005 —
Legend of a Fighter 2005 《霍元甲》 is a project initially conceived by Ronny Yu who had been working on it for two years. Under producer Bill Kong’s introduction, Jet Li and Ronny Yu met and they clicked immediately. Ronny Yu aims at making Legend of a Fighter an entertaining kungfu movie that brings together various commercial factors, and also hopes to glorify the spirit of martial arts through this movie. Initially, the story was set in between 1989 to 1910, and was about Huo Yuan Jia performing chivalrous deeds till he gets killed by the Japanese. Yet, when camera rolled, the script continued to undergo multiple revisions for Jet Li was not happy with the content. Production was even halted four times, until Wang Bin and Li Feng were roped in.
The main problem with the early script was that the characters were too stereotypical and lacked depth, especially some of them were either too distinctly good or evil. After several revisions, Huo Yuan Jia’s stay at the village became a major turning point and Yue Ci role’s was subsequently given more importance. What’s most difficult to portray was the final part where Huo Yuan Jia competes in the ring against foreign challengers in Shanghai. Jet Li did not want it to be like previous works with nationalistic and revolutionary phrases like “Chinese are not sick people of the East”. The main theme of Legend of A Fighter, as promulgated by Jet Li, is violence doesn’t resolve anything.
Apart for a 2.1m tall wrestler Nathan Jones from US who would challenge Huo Yuan Jia, five Thai actors were also enlisted to be to be the top fighters at the remote Thai village, among which the one acting as Bei Zha was an Olympics boxing champion. Martial arts director Yuen Wo Ping gives special coaching to the Thai actors according to a set of difficult and sophisticated actions he came up for them. Other than that, the movie will have 400 shots of special effects.
Spoilers: As the movie, which now focuses on Huo Yuan Jia’s growth, begins, Huo Yuan Jia is a but a hot-blooded youth who loves fighting for justice, but doesn’t really know what he is really fighting for and why. It wasn’t until after a series of events that Huo Yuan Jia grows up and gains a different insight. The tenderness and maternal charm of a kindhearted, pure and innocent blind village girl Yue Ci play a pivotal role in influencing Huo Yuan Jia during the three years he stays in anonymity in the remote village. Though handicapped, Yue Ci is optimistic, cheerful, and always strive to improve. Eventually, Huo Yuan Jia no longer sees wushu as a means of vengeance. Jet Li hopes to show the true meaning of wushu through Legend of A Fighter. The Beijing News | Photos:Southcn.com, Tom, Tom