A 3D montage from True Legend whereby Zhao Wen Zhuo challenges his imagined opponent in order to elevate his martial arts skill was shown for the first time at a press conference in Beijing on December 20, attended by director Yuen Wo Ping, the cast Zhou Xun, Jiang Lu Xia and Will Liu. Post-production took over 10 months in order to create the fight scenes in 3D, done painstakingly layer by layer, frame by frame by Menfond Electronic Art and over 100 digital artists. Yuen Wo Ping says that to shoot the 3D action scenes, two cameras had to be set up, and he tried to devise moves that aren’t too fanciful, such that the action could be seen distinctly, for maximum 3D visual impact.
Yuen Wo Ping says that producer Bill Kong was the one introduced the script for True Legend to him. To which he wondered, why Su Qi Er again? This isn’t the first time Yuen Wo Ping has directed a film on Su Qi Er. And apparently, Yuen Wo Ping handed the directing duties for Heroes Among Heroes to someone else after finishing only a mere fraction. Yet for True Legend, Yuen Wo Ping was happy enough with the script that he decided to helm the project.
Zhao Wen Zhuo had been doing TV series in the past few years, and it was Bill Kong who recommended him to Yuen Wo Ping. And being a martial artist, Zhao Wen Zhuo was able to execute the action as Yuen Wo Ping intended, landing him the title role immediately, “Once I saw him, I made up my mind.”
Yuen Wo Ping would always try to come up with something new for each of his works, “I often think of how to achieve breakthrough, how was the action in the previous work, and how do I surpass it? I have to rack my brains.”
Apart from realism, True Legend also introduces some heretic martial arts, as portrayed by Andy On, who turns berserk learning it. And the Drunken Fist in this film will not be as fanciful as Drunken Master, this time around, the emphasis is on tighter rhythm and speed, as well as the incorporation of modern dance elements. Zhao Wen Zhuo, after understanding Yuen Wo Ping’s intention, spent two months in training in order to blend street dancing with kungfu.
Yuen Wo Ping says that this film is plot-oriented, “Only when you really can’t avoid it would there be a fight. This is what that separates the wheat from the chaff. So, True Legend’s martial arts and drama scenes are distributed evenly, with drama outweighing action by 6:4. I think that this is handled pretty well, it’s the drama that determines the action, and the kind of action.
“There are emotional scenes not just between the couple Zhao Wen Zhuo and Zhou Xun, but between father and son, and friends. Zhou Xun is a very versatile actress, Su Qi Er’s wife is someone who looks gentle externally but is actually a very resolute, firm person, she supports her husband, treating him very gently, but she is very strong and determined in her heart, quietly encouraging her husband, who has fallen from grace, to brace himself, such that he could become a great master eventually.”
As a virtuous wife and caring mother, Zhou Xun’s Yuan Ying is Su Qi Er’s spiritual pillar of support, “In the film, Su Qi Er is my husband, but my brother Andy On is the villain, I’m torn between kinship and love, I find this conflict very interesting, so, I don’t have any regrets for not being in a fighting role in a Yuen Wo Ping film. However, I still get an action scene, it was a surprise, I didn’t know that it could be so wonderful to see an action scene in 3D.”
Will Liu and Jiang Lu Xia play cold-blooded siblings who work for Andy On, and apart from Jiang Lu Xia, Will Liu has also studied some martial arts such as Southern Fist and staff when young. Owing to the differences in the length of their weapons, Will Liu and Jiang Lu Xia had to spend time coordinating their fight scenes, as they paired up against Zhao Wen Zhuo. Will Liu, in particular, had to be careful not to hit Jiang Lu Xia with his lengthy sword.
As the world’s foremost martial arts director who has groomed many talents, this is what Yuen Wo Ping has to say about the various martial arts stars, “Jet Lu is a wushu master, his deportment and his posture, really bear the hallmarks of a grandmaster. Jackie Chan’s moves are full of tricky manoeuvres, he is agile and he always throws his away life doing very risky action, like a high fall.
“You don’t even have to say anything about Sammo Hung, he’s so fat, yet his moves are so cool and powerful. Donnie Yen is able combine modern fare with kungfu flawlessly, and his moves are very striking. Wu Jing is not bad too, he is very fast and adroit, whatsoever he learns or does, he looks the part, he’ll go far in the future.
“Each kungfu star has their own unique qualities, without which they wouldn’t succeed. To be a kungfu screen giant, you have to set apart your moves from that of the stunt performers.”
Responding to the rumours surrounding New Swordsman and the cast, Yuen Wo Ping says, “No such thing, while I did consider shooting this subject, I haven’t thought of the cast yet.”
True Legend is set for release on Feb 9, 2010.