JEFFREY LAU CALLS FORTH OTHER FILM CHARACTERS
Light-Transcending Pandora’s Box is currently undergoing production in Guangzhou and, despite some similarities, director Jeffrey Lau clarifies that he won’t repeat what he has done previously: Light-Transcending Pandora’s Box is a completely different story from Chinese Odyssey.
In fact, it’s closer to Eagle Shooting Hero in that it’s a laugh-out-loud nonsensical comedy throughout the entire film, with romance being sidelined. Light-Transcending Pandora’s Box is a burlesque on Red Cliff, much as what Eagle Shooting Hero is to the original Jin Yong novel.
Jeffrey Lau explains that “transcend” in the title Light-transcending Pandora’s Box refers to transcending time, as in time-travelling. It features an ensemble cast where various goofy characters from different movies somehow ended up in Three Kingdoms and are trying to lay their hands on the Pandora’s Box in order to get back to their own times, and in one way or another, turning the era topsy-turvy, messing up Liu Bei, Cao Cao and Zhou Yu’s lives and getting on their nerves.
Jeffrey Lau says that he hasn’t done such a lavish comedy, one that is a thoroughbred comedy through and through, for years. And the buoyant director, who’s favourite genre is comedy as it cracks everyone, including himself, up, is very excited and elated to filming Light Transcending Pandora’s Box.
In Light-Transcending Pandora’s Box, one could see, inter alia, Landlord (Yuen Wah) and Landlady (Yuen Qiu), The Beast (Bruce Liang), as well as Axe Gang from Kungfu Hustle; Ancient Bodhi “The Grapes” played by Jeffrey Lau himself that he describes as a dehydrated, shrunken version as he has become thinner and more swarthy, Zixia+Qingxia, Iron Fan Princess, Bull Demon King from Chinese Odyssey; Cao Cao, Zhou Yu, Xiahou Dun from Red Cliff; Dicky Chow (Xu Jiao) from CJ7; the three bumbling thieves from Crazy Stone, etc. Some of the cast-members are required to either play multiple roles, or characters with dissociative identity disorder.
Jeffrey Lau, the talented director whom Stephen Chow looks up to as a mentor, often inviting him to help produce his movies, says that he never thought of casting Stephen Chow. He’s one of the first few to discover Stephen Chow’s true calling and cast him when he hadn’t made it big, and groomed him to be the king of comedy.
While Jeff Lau had never thought of hiring Stephen Chow for Light-Transcending Pandora’s Box, he did tell Stephen Chow that he’d be shooting this film. Actually, at that time Stephen Chow requested for Jeffrey Lau to work with him on Green Hornet only to bee turned down (while Stephen Chow eventually left the project too due to creative differences), and he merely mentioned it briefly when Stephen Chow enquired about Light-Transcending Pandora’s Box.
Athena Chu, who’s reprising her characters in Chinese Odyssey, is glad to be able to appear in Jeffrey Lau’s work after her acting has matured. Regrettably, she won’t have any romantic scenes in the film.
Initially, Athena Chu was told that she’d be advising Rose Fairy against repeating her mistake, falling into the pitfall of love, only to find out on the set that it’s been amended, “I’m turning insane after going through the script! This time, not only do I have to play Zixia and Qingxia, but four different characters! Apart from the ingenuous Zixia, and the ever-suspicious Qingxia, I also have two other Xias to deal with – one is a braggart, while another a quick-tempered, impatient person. I’m at a loss on having to act out all these!”
Famed crosstalk artiste Guo De Gang is taking on the role of warlord Cao Cao, one who treads on a thin fine line between justice and heresy; he could be earnest and wise when directing a war, but could turn into a “250” (an inane/frivolous person who often embarrasses themselves) the next moment.
Guo De Gang says that Jeffrey Lau’s brand of humour is very similar to crosstalk, and the two clicked instantly on their first meeting, “Didn’t talk any terms.” He adds that while he has appeared on other works before, it was only to help them out, and this time, he truly loves this production.
Huang Bo is playing military strategist Zhou Yu, one who is extremely handsome and considers himself above all else. Guo Tao is playing physician Hua Tuo, Eric Tsang military strategist Zhuge Liang, while Alex Fong Lik Sun a good-looking general Guan Gong and he has plenty of scenes alongside Zhang Fei by Fan Siu Wong and Liu Bei by Yuen Biao. Wu Jing has a cameo as a cavalry captain responsible for chasing and capturing Ronald Cheng and bringing him back to back to Eastern Wu while Xing Yu cameos as an Eastern Wu soldier.
Clad in armour which Ronald Cheng describes as “heavier than him”, Ronald Cheng complains of the heat, saying he has suffered from heat stroke thrice and has lost 7 pounds. In the film, he plays brigand Qing Yi Se who has around 5 images, a military officer, a cross-dresser, a brigand, a Japanese rōnin and an ordinary citizen, as a result of traversing back-and-forth between different time zones.
When he appears on Red Cliff, everyone mistakes him for Zhao Yun, but he’s still a brigand at heart, thereby letting loose lots of crazy moments. Rather than helping Liu Bei and protect his baby son, Qing Yi Se presents the baby to Cao Cao instead. However, being suspicious by nature, Cao Cao declines.
And once while trying to rob Sun Li’s Rose Fairy, Sun Li falls in love with him on first sight instead and begins chasing him all the way. However, it boggles Ronald Cheng as to why Sun Li would fall for him, “That’s how the script was written, I’m curious too.”
Ronald Cheng describes his character is a bad guy when it comes to relationships, “Once you realise that you were in the wrong, it is already too late.”
Being greatly influenced by the love story between Joker and Zixia, Rose Fairy – Zixia’s junior – sneaks away to the mortal world in her quest for love, armed with Pandora’s Box and a magic sword. Sun Li describes her character as one who’s so ardent and feverish in pursuit of love that she becomes a little mentally unsound.
“However, I discover that that girls can be so cool, so beautiful when they take the initiative in expressing their love. She’s really crazy about love, once she picks someone – after he pulls out the magic sword – she’d go after him relentlessly despite his flaws, irregardless of what others think of him. She’s willing to do anything for him, brave the mountain of blades, the sea of flames. She just wishes to hear the declaration of love from him.” elaborates Sun Li.
But in Light-transcending Pandora’s Box, they won’t be making a 10 thousand years of love vow, “Rose Fairy does not want love that is thousands of years away, she wants love right away, in the present time.”
Alex Fong lets slip that Gillian Chung has been filming with him on the set for the past few days (and her cameo scenes will be completed soon) while Ronald Cheng unintentionally divulges that she plays Sun Quan’s sister Sun Shang Xiang and has plenty of scenes opposite him when Sun Li hushes, “Aren’t we not supposed to say this?”
Gigi Leung (video) and Stephy Tang play ambassadors/dancers from Western China. Gigi Leung says that both of them are actually a piece of “skin” transformed by Sun Li as she tries to get close to Ronald Cheng, who keeps running away from her by using the Pandora’s Box.
The Bull Demon King is played by a different actor, Wang Xue Bing, who’s looks in the film haven’t been revealed, this time around. Wang Xue Bing introduces that this is the most suave and charming Bull Demon King who sweeps every girl off her feet, insofar as even the cross-dressing Ronald Cheng is after him.
He’s one who’s very persistent in love, draws a clear line between his likes and dislikes, and vows to win the hand of the girl he loves. However, Wang Xue Bing finds that the toughest part lies not in portraying this classic character, but in working with Jeffrey Lau, “His rhythm is very different from others, so I could only race against myself, changing my customary ways, and trying to keep up with him, totally surrendering myself to him.”
Ada Choi is reprising her role as Iron-fan Princess, Bull Demon King’s wife, “This character is really zany, she’s so domineering, it’s the most powerful woman I’ve ever played. She’s also more audacious in the way she dresses, compared to Chinese Odyssey, I even asked the director why.”
“She would fight, kill, in order to win her man back, is really imperious. In real life, I won’t be like this, I’d melt my husband Zhang Jin’s heart with gentleness.” Ada Choi elaborates on how Iron Princess would resort to any means to reclaim her husband Bull Demon King.
Patrick Tam plays Xiahou Dun, a general under Cao Cao. While he’s brave and strong, he’s often browbeaten and ridiculed, “When filming A Chinese Tall Story, I was very afraid of Jeff Lau, for I couldn’t catch up with his pace, but now, I’m able to understand what he wants.”
As with Tsui Hark, Jeffrey Lau is overflowing with creativity, and often changes the script on whims. So, Patrick Tam gives up reading the script, “We only get the script on the night before filming. But on the second day, we’d often discover that Jeffrey Lau is talking about something completely different. So, from my second day on the set, I’ve stopped reading the script beforehand.”
Light-Transcending Pandora’s Box is wrapping up in late August and might possibly be released by end of the year. In the meantime, Jeffrey Lau is already planning his next work, which will be a twist on Water Margin. Southern Metropolis Daily, Sina