Saturday, November 12, 2005

Perhaps love? Perhaps not


DIRECTOR Peter Chan is no longer in love – with making romantic movies, that is. The 43-year-old Hong Konger behind acclaimed films like Comrades: Almost a Love Story (1996) and He’s a Woman, She’s a Man (1994) now says he wants to do something unfamiliar.

“I’ve done all the love stories I can identify with,” he says. But for the moment, fans can still enjoy his take on romance in Perhaps Love for which he was in Singapore recently to promote.

The musical set in present-day Shanghai is about a love triangle among three characters played by Jacky Cheung, Takeshi Kaneshiro and upcoming Chinese actress Zhou Xun.

Peter Chan (left) with the stars of Perhaps Love, (from left) Ji Jin Hee, Zhou Xun and Jacky Cheung

Chan says the cast members of the US$10mil (RM37.5mil) film were picked, not for their singing abilities but for their aura and physical resemblance to the characters he had in mind.

“Takeshi was apprehensive and told me he didn’t like to sing but I told him that if he can speak his lines, he can sing.

“And his songs in the film were brilliant, perhaps not comparable in vocal quality to Jacky’s, but there was a lot of emotion,” Chan says.

South Korean actor Ji Jin Hee, of Jewel in the Palace (2003) fame, who replaced Andy Lau after he turned down the role of a singing angel, faced a different problem. “Ji did not know a word of Chinese before the shoot but he worked very hard and learnt the language during our shoot,” says Chan.

“He even flew to Hong Kong three or four times to redo his songs and lines in the dubbing studio because he wanted them to be perfect.”

Chan has also had to surmount his own career mountains, given the winds of change buffeting the Hong Kong film industry.

“It has been in disarray for some time so I took a few years off directing and set up my own studio in April 2000 to do Asian co-productions like The Eye,” he says.

Chan is a big-name producer in Hong Kong, having produced films like The Eye horror film trilogy by the Pang brothers and Golden Chicken (2002) starring Sandra Ng, which won three awards at the 40th Annual Golden Horse Awards, including Best Actress.

He is also executive producer for the Hollywood adaptation of The Eye which will be directed by Hideo Nakata and star Renee Zellweger.

“If I didn’t produce my own work, I would be subjecting my career to others’ hands. And in this line, it’s three strikes and you’re out.”

For his next film, he plans to make a period action drama, tentatively titled Assassination of Ma, which is about China in a period of strife and war in the late 1800s.

“Perhaps Love was a new way of expression for me after doing so many love movies. I see it as the last film of the first stage of my filmmaking career.

“I want to move into a second stage,” he says. – The Straits Times, Singapore/Asia News Network

‘Perhaps Love’ opens in local cinemas on Dec 8.

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