Sinema interviews director Randy Ang on Spirit of Fight
Spirit of Fight is a martial arts film that revolves around two brothers and Mixed Martial Arts (MMA). The cast includes Bruce Lee lookalike Danny Chan and Singaporean artiste Rebecca Tan.
Sinema catches up with Randy Ang, director of Spirit of Fight, on what he thinks about the recent trend of Chinese martial arts films and the reason behind choosing Danny as his main lead.
1) I caught a bit of the action at Old School that night. Can you tell us what’s the scene about?
We are currently working on a co-production between Hong Kong, Taiwan, China and Singapore titled “The Spirit of Fight” with actor Danny Chan (Shaolin Soccer, Kungfu Hustle) from Hong Kong. The production will only go into full swing next year. What we are doing is to ‘test’ shoot some scenes, mixing up footage in HD and 3D, to create a teaser trailer to honor the late Bruce Lee on the 27 November which is his 70th birth anniversary.
Specifically, we are shooting a couple of fight scenes of caged mixed martial arts matches. You will get to see Danny’s fight with Singapore actor Sunny Pang, who is also our fight choreography director; and Brazilian MMA fighter Marcio Fernando de Silva who stands at 1.9m tall.
2) Why did you choose to shoot the scene at Old School?
Singapore is really hot, so when looking for a space, we were very careful not to suffocate the actors and the crew. We sourced over 10 locations before making the decision. The Old School Hall was a great choice with its huge space and high ceiling. Because we did not do a location based shoot, we build the entire stage from scratch.
3) Why did you choose Danny as your main lead?
Danny Chan is firstly a great person and an equally committed actor. What we all like about him is although in the last few years, after the success of CCTV’s “The Legend of Bruce Lee” (The series smashed the all-time CCTV record with over 200 million viewers), Danny has remained humble. And he has been very selective of the projects he takes on. So for him to give this project a “Yes”, it gives all of us to the confident and drive to make this film a reality.
Danny runs his own production company in Hong Kong which does shoots and photography and he has directed short films himself, so he knows the film making process and what the demands are. His mentor is Stephen Chow, one of my personal heroes. What we have all learned from him is this – (translation) Be serious and focused
4) What were some of the difficulties faced in this production?
To be honest, two reasons as to why we are shooting in Singapore. 1. The crew I am familiar with is here, we can cast a whole bunch of great actors and fighters here. So it makes more sense to fly Danny and his crew over. 2. We did not want the overseas media to ‘hound’ us, we only have 2-3 days for the shoot so we need to focus and not be distracted.
The crew here is so used to shooting in the humid Singapore, so that was not a problem. I was very concern about shooting fighting scenes under the production lights which will be very demanding for the crew and actors. We had a medic stand-by just in case. Most of the actors, including Danny who trains in Jeet Kune Do, are fighters themselves, what we emphasis is always safety first, as they are all performing their own stunts. Every time there is a dangerous move to be made, although we have done all the rehearsals, we will check that the actor is alright and ready to go. If there is any discomfort, then we will change the angles or come our with ways to make it “look” dangerous but in reality is really safe. It is filmmaking, we are creating a reality.
I personally have to thank everyone who has been part of the 3 day shoot. Without each others support and belief – this wouldn’t have been possible.
5) Recently there has been a trend of Chinese martial arts films and fighting tournament movies (like The Karate Kid and Donnie Yen’s movies). How will Spirit of Fight differentiate from them?
I have to answer this quite personally. I do not believe that there is a way to be truly original. Any of the modern inventions of the 21st century stems from an idea that has been in placed in history. We can no longer re-invent the wheel. That is not to say that there are no fresh ideas or great concepts in film making of late. One of my favourite director/writer is Mr Christopher Nolan and I think a lot of people would agree what he did with “The Dark Knight”, “The Prestige” and most recently with “Inception” were all remarkable. The story of Batman has been told so many times on film and on TV and in animation, “The Prestige” which is about magicians was released the same time as Edward Norton’s “The Illusionist” and “Inception” was written by Nolan during the time of “The Matrix”.
What we can do is to offer things that you may or may not have seen before. More so in the “Spirit of Fight”, if you understand what is the spirit behind Jeet Kune Do – which is our guiding beacon in making this film. It is a “style without style”, and how you can interpret that can be “a style with every style”, “learn from the best and learn from everyone else”, “change, evolve, adapt”.
In making films, we want the audience to have an experience: be happy, be sad, be shocked, be amazed, be inspired, be someone else… and if a film allows this casual moment of escape from our daily lives, it has archive what a lot of leisure activities cannot provide. That is the magic.