Days in Shaolin
That 蒋璐霞 Jiang Lu Xia, 23, walks the path of wushu is also on the account of these works.
“When I was very young, my father loved martial arts shows, and I would watch them with him. While I hadn’t had the slightest inklings of the mechanics, I was envious of those people on the screen who could fly. Then, I made up my mind, I must train this, so that I could soar to school every day,” recounts Jiang Lu Xia in her interview.
It only was after growing up did she realise that the lightness kungfu as portrayed in the wuxia films are made up, the actors need to be suspended on wire-harnesses to levitate. She laughed at her naivety back then.
At the age of 6, Jiang Luxia started training in wushu with her maternal uncle, “My uncle has some foundation.” After 5 years of training, her mother sent her to Shenyang Wushu School. She studied there for 2 years, “I hoped to learn more practical combat, and had always wanted to learn lightness kungfu.”
And thus, she headed off to the famous Shaolin Temple in Mt Songshan when she turned 13.
After becoming a lay Shaolin disciple, she became Shi Xiao Long’s classmate. At that time, Shi Xiao Long was the goal of every student, “When he was at school, we would train with him; when he was out filming, we still had to train. Actually, I was really envious of him, he had his own gaming console, his own car.”
Jiang Lu Xia continues ruefully, “Sometimes, the casting directors would be there to look for supporting roles to Shi Xiao Long’s works, but I was never picked.”
Even then, Sh Xiao Long has had major influence on her showbiz career, “His case shows me that filming is also a means of success to those of us that practise wushu.”
Behind each success lies countless sacrifices, hardships, toiling, sweats, pains and injuries. In martial arts schools, the monotonous training prepares one for competitions, achieving better results.
Jiang Lu Xia narrates, it’s training, being beaten, punished practically everyday, “It was very arduous, my passion for wushu dwindled as the day gone by.”
More often than not, the thought of running away would flash across her mind.
Jiang Lu Xia originally had the chance to join Henan Wushu Team, to compete at national level, but the chance slipped by when she injured herself while training. She was rejected for the coach feared that her injury would affect her performance.
Facing a setback, she had to reflect on how she would continue on her path. At 17, she thought of entering the university, and her only choice was Beijing University of Sports.
“Where we were, we dared not imagine being admitted to Beijing University of Sports. When I told my intention to my coach, I was scoffed at, ‘Are you sure?’ I replied, ‘Certainly.'”
She was given special treatment on that year she applied to university, all her competitions were cancelled, “I would not step out of my house everyday, and I would burn the midnight oil, so I became a bit myopic.”
Eventually, she matriculated at Beijing Sports University. She said it was luck.
Setting Up Her Own School
Despite not being on a professional wushu team, Jiang Lu Xia still made it to the university. While she’s studying at the university, the internet had already become very widespread. Under the assumed identity of Kitty Darling, she published a series of action shorts online, gaining fame rapidly, with her videos getting good feedbacks and millions of hits.
One of the more popular shorts is a stealing scene where she had red threads tied up all over her hostel to simulate infrared motion alarm system, she has to pass through without touching any of the threads, “Actually, I came up with the idea with some of my classmates.”
Prior to that, the few of them came together to set up a martial arts training facility, “To talk big, it’s to spread the wushu spirit, but actually, it was just to make some money.” However, without sufficient funding and lacking in managerial expertise, business was bad, and not being able to afford the rent, it was closed down in no time.
After that, she thought of internet, and carved out her own niche online.
Commercial and Filmmaking
“Once, a classmate recommended me to be Guo Jing Jing’s stunt double for a commercial, tumbling down from the height of 10m, and thence, dropping onto some cartons. I thought since I could make some pocket money, might as well give it a shot.”
The action director for the commercial was Xiong Xin Xin. He was best known as Clubfoot in Once Upon A Time series. “Director Xiong Xin Xin asked if I could do tumbling from great heights, I told him I had never done it before, but I was willing to try.”
Initially, she started from a lower point, with height gradually being increased: 3m, 4m… and finally 13m. Xiong Xin Xin, who had been wearing a stern look, grinned from ear to ear after witnessing Jiang Lu Xia performing the stunt.
Later, he told her to do somersaults on top of three tables, “I was doubtful then, would Guo Jing Jing need to do something like that? But I dared not ask, so I just carried out what he requested.”
After completing the somersaults, Xiong Xin Xin told her, “What other commercials are you doing? Wait for my news, I’m writing a script. You’ll be the leading lady.”
The script that Xiong Xin Xin was planning is none other than Coweb, which opened recently in theatres in China on May 15. Jiang Lu Xia plays the protagonist Nie Yi Yi.
Now, she has become a female action star, but on looking back, life in the entertainment field isn’t a bed of roses, “It’s extremely difficult for a girl to do action scenes.” On several occasions, she lost her cool and screamed out due to pressure, “I was really feeling that I would lose my life if I carried on.”
On the 2nd day of the shoot, she was taken to the hospital to be stitched.
But after the rain comes the rainbow, she has been receiving acclaims for her action scenes in Coweb.
Jiang Lu Xia hopes to get to work with big-time directors like Lee Ang. And she has nothing but utmost reverence for Yuen Wo Ping, whom she worked with on True Legend, “He is always able to discover your true strengths and unique qualities; Jackie Chan’s Drunken Fist, Jet Li’s Tai Chi, Michelle Yeoh’s kicking, all are fully tapped into by him.”
Jiang Lu Xia hopes to play roles like cops, secret agents, etc in the future. But on kissing scenes, she blushes, “I can do all stunts myself, but for this, can I have a double?”
And much to her relief, there are hardly any smooching scenes in action films.
Jiang Lu Xia is currently in production of Dennis Law’s 《灭门》(Clan’s Downfall) with Andy On and Bernice Liu. Chengdu Business Daily