Xie Miao and Yaqi Talk about Legend of Shaolin Kungfu
《少林寺传奇》 A Legend of Shaolin Kungfu TV series, a trilogy directed by 都晓 Du Xiao, consists of 《乱世英雄》 Heroes in Troubled Times, 《十三棍僧救唐王》 Thirteen Warrior Monks and Prince Li Shimin, and 《十八小铜人》 Eighteen Arhats. A Legend of Shaolin Kung Fu I: Heroes in Troubled in Times is currently being aired in China to great success and high viewership ratings while the second part Thirteen Warrior Monks has begun production since January 2008.
It features an impressive cast consisting of veteran actors like 鲍国安 Bao Guo An, 午马 Wu Ma, 郭达 Guo Da, 王刚 Wang Gang, 吴京安 Wu Jing An, etc. and most importantly, large number of martial artists such as 计春华 Ji Chun Hua, 于承惠Yu Cheng Hui, 李渊 Li Yuan, 叶剑卫 Ye Jian Wei, 谢苗Xie Miao, 陈佳佳 Chen Jia Jia, 王雪 Wang Xue, 郭辉Guo Hui, 袁新东 Yuan Xin Dong, 阴海龙 Yin Hai Long, 刘子威 Liu Zi Wei etc. for the main leads and their opponents to deliver martial arts sequences that are jaw-droppingly realistic, beautiful, yet without being too violent, as choreographed by 程小东 Tony Ching Siu Tung. To add more colour to the series, 孙卉凝 Sun Hui Ning, 法提麦·雅琦 Yaqi Fatima, 乔乔 Qiao Qiao are invited to play the leading ladies.
In Legend of Shaolin Kunfu, Yaqi Fatima plays the devoted princess who goes to Shaolin Temple in search of her missing childhood sweetheart. Xie Miao, the kid from Jet Li’s My Father, the Hero, and New Legend of Shaolin, has grown up now and is playing Hui Ren, the taciturn 4th Shaolin disciple whose favourite weapon is his flute.
Yaqi Fatima Says
“Some says that director Du Xiao is leading a group of injured soldiers filming Legend of Shaolin Kungfu. This is indeed true. While I was the last to join the production, I have still witnessed the toughness and difficulties on the set. To reflect authentic Shaolin kungfu, just about every actor is a martial arts exponent with many years of training. Not only do they do everything personally, they don’t use much safety measures. Whether it’s the trading of fists and kicks or weapons, they are all for real.
“To quote director Dux Xiao, ‘Don’t give me flowery stuff!’. As such, it’s said that martial arts director Tony Ching Siu Tung, who’s strengths are in wireworks, was not very used to it when he first entered the production. To ensure believability of the genuineness of Shaolin kungfu, Du Xiao forbids flying (At least, there aren’t much flying). Under this order, the production is especially strict to the actors, to the extent of being brutal. More often than not, the actors would be bruised.
“On the set, director Du Xiao means business, but when off work, he’s like a responsible parent, showing care and concern for everyone. He would enquire about the conditions of the injured actors and instruct the crew to take good care of them and tend to their needs. No matter how tiring it is, director Du Xiao would survey the shooting location personally. As filming is done in some perilous mountains, accidents happen quite frequently.
“Once director Du Xiao fell off the cliff in Xinchang when he was scouting for location – it would had been disastrous if it wasn’t for a big tree that broke his fall. After the accident, he quipped, ‘So many actors have hurt themselves while filming this work, if I do not experience it myself, it’s unfair to everyone.’
“Seeing director Du Xiao’s dedication to work reminds me of Shaolin Temple’s director Mr Cheung Sing Yim. They share many common traits – neither of them are martial artists, yet are able to introduce the culture of wushu to the world. Neither are especially verbose, yet when they speak, classics spews forth. Most importantly, they are very friendly and unassuming, they do not put on airs, you would be at ease when with them.
“I’m very fortunate to be in Cheung Sing Yim’s Shaolin King of Martial Arts many years back, and now I get to be in Du Xiao’s Legend of Shaolin Kungfu. I share good affinity with Shaolin, and more so with the directors of Shaolin-based TV series. Most importantly, I’ve learned a lot about values of life from them.” Yaqi’s Blog
Xie Miao Interview
Tell us about how you feel doing Legend of Shaolin Kungfu.
Xie Miao: What make this production stands out is the realism of martial arts sequences. The director is very particular and meticulous about each and every shot. When editing, the director said, “I have never seen such crisp fighting scenes for years.”
All our crew and cast were carefully combed from the entire country, including our stuntmen. They just finished Zhang Yimou’s Curse of the Golden Armour, they are a group of very professional stuntmen. Once when we let the stuntmen act as dead people, the production would usually give each of the actors playing dead people a red packet containing 10 yuan, for good luck. But the stuntmen refused to take anything. People said, they truly belong to this profession.
Which was the toughest scene?
Xie Miao: It was the exchange between me and third senior, Ye Jian Wei, an indoor scene shot in Zhuozhou, Hebei. If there were three people fighting, we could take turn to rest a bit. But there were only two of us. We didn’t have any break. After doing it for one whole day, my entire robe was wet with sweat, down to my knees.
Tell us about your training in kungfu.
Xie Miao: My earliest days were at Children’s Palace of Beijing. Later I went on to study at Zhongguancun High School. They just set up a youth wushu class, and I was the first batch. I have learned quite a bit of kungfu there. After that, I succeeded in entering Beijing University of Sports, majoring in wushu.
However, I have never encountered any good works. I thought that it’d be a waste to have to repeat one whole year of studies if I were to disrupt for just two to three months of filming, so I never accepted any projects then. When I graduated in 2006, it just happened that there was such a production as Legend of Shaolin Kungfu. It has such a great assembly of cast and crew, it’s unprecedented. I was very happy to be able to join such a production. Photos: Xie Miao & Yaqi’s Blog