Legendary Assassin


Following Legendary Assassin’s Beijing premiere, Nicky Li, Wu Jing, Celina Jade and Paco Wong proceeded to its premiere screenings in other Chinese cities including Nanchang, Shenzhen, Shanghai, Guangzhou, etc. In Hong Kong, they were joined in by Ken Lo, various Gold Label artistes Ronald Cheng, Alex Fong, Stephy Tang, etc. while Celina Jade sang the theme song on the stage.

They were greeted enthusiastically by streams of fans. As opposed to Wu Jing, Celina Jade and director Nicky Li were not quite at ease at such major events initially. Still, they would not down requests from fans for autographs and photo-taking.

Wu Jing remarks, “Seeing the fans’ reactions and passions, I’m deeply moved. It’s well worth taking 1200 kicks while filming the finale!”

Celina Jade says, “As an actor, he’s fantastic, able to change his emotions readily. As a director, Wu Jing is very earnest, very well-organised, well-prepared, taking care of all aspects very well, such as safety. Very focused, with well-defined plan, knowing clearly what he wants to achieve. Also, he’s very patient, never flares up on the set, neither is he nervous, nor worried about the results or what other people think of him in the process.

“Before filming, he would explain to us the script, the setting, the mood, and give us time to get into our characters, rather than rolling the camera right away. If you were in doubts, he’d guide you. But he’s also pretty open-minded, receptive to your suggestions and let you flaunt your talents rather than denying your ideas should they be different from what he had in mind.”

As a director, Wu Jing faces greater responsibility, “The feelings are very different from being an actor, for I have to consider the overall picture; unlike in the past, where my views were more parochial as an actor. And it’s also rather schizophrenic to juggle between two posts: in front of the camera, I have to get into my character, but on going back to the monitor, I have to put myself on the perspective of the audience.”

Nicky Li ruminates, “Everyone thinks that those trained in kungfu are brash and crude, but it’s not so. Martial artists can be very romantic too. So, both of us hope to shoot a romantic martial arts film. Legendary Assassin creates a character that is equally accomplished in civility and fighting, his personality and adroitness are the personifications of wolf, but he’s still a warm-hearted, affectionate human.”

“I hope that the audience enjoy the 88 minutes spent on this film in a relaxing manner. And if I can tug at the heartstrings of the female audience with the romantic elements of this film, then I have already succeeded in this minor step,” continues Wu Jing.

However, the action scenes are still the biggest draws for the film, especially the finale which sees Wu Jing going up against 100 opponents whereby the audience could feel the pains, heartaches and risks of being in such a situation. This scene is a great challenge to manage and accounts for a sizeable portion of the film’s budget, “In this film, including me, are three martial arts directors. This scene is the culmination of our team work, team effort, team spirit.”

Two other major actions scenes in the film are Wu Jing’s rousing match against Kou Zhan Wen, which is sharp and clean, if a bit brief; and the help for Celina Jade against three escaped convicts Jiang Bao Cheng, Ken Lo and another guy, which lasts for several minutes, taking the audience’s breaths away.

Nicky Li introduces, “Nowadays, foreign films are getting better and better with special effects, and many action scenes are done with the aid of computers. The youths only think of how great the foreign action films are, while forgetting the prowess of real martial arts. Wu Jing and I decided to craft authentic full-contact martial arts scenes without relying on computers. So, we need true martial artists as opponents, but it’s not easy finding worthy opponents.”

Wu Jing adds, “There’s nothing flowery in Legendary assassin. In the one-against-hundred finale, all the fighters are real stuntmen, each wound brought about a deeper understanding of the essence of the martial arts world, in turn leading to improvement. We believe that this is what the audience wants to see.”

As to Legendary Assassin being sandwiched between bigger films like Forever Enthralled, All About Women and Ip Man, Wu Jing feels it an honour for Legendary Assassin to be released in around the same period as them in the holiday season, “Rather than being anxious, I might as well enjoy the process of directing the film. It’s not a big deal to lose; losing to big-time directors like Chen Kaige, I can afford it.

“I just focus on doing my part well, besides, my experience in directing was limited, so I just wanted to shoot a simple actioner for everyone, without the depths of Once Upon a Time in China or Infernal Affairs. I’m sure everyone would be able to see, to feel my sincerity, effort and pains.

“I’m known for my foolhardiness. Having taken this new step, at most, I’ll start afresh if I fail. If successful, I’ll continue. After three more works, I’ll quit being a director. I took up directing only to elevate myself towards becoming a more professional actor.”

On Tai Chi, his next work as a director, Wu Jing introduces that it’d change the conventional notion of Tai Chi as a form of health exercise practised by the elderly folks in park. Hoping to offer a modern interpretation on Tai Chi, Wu Jing says that its moves can be seriously crippling and highly devastating.

Currently, the script is ready, and Elva Hsiao, who’s now under the same conglomerate Gold Typhoon after the merger between Typhoon and Gold Label, and Typhoon’s buying out of EMI’s stakes in their joint ventures in China and Hong Kong as well as EMI Music Taiwan, might be appearing in it too.

However, before that, Wu Jing would be doing Jeffrey Lau’s Robot. But he’s rather tight-lipped about his role, only revealing that it’s a wushu-trained android.

During a break at Shanghai premiere, Wu Jing received a call from director Benny Chan, inviting him to join his next project. Wu Jing appeared rather elated after hanging up, for it’s not easy for a Mainlander to establish their foothold in Hong Kong, “The bus is too crowded, it’s very hard to board it. However, it’s more or less settled. It’s a good news. But as to the specifics, director Benny Chan just told me not to reveal anything.”  Hangzhou Daily, Mtime, Sina, HK Headline

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