By Keen Zhang
Chinese martial arts choreographer and film director Yuen Wo Ping announced yesterday that he will direct a new Kung Fu epic entitled True Legend.
Yuen Wo Ping is one of most famous and influential figures in the world of Hong Kong action films, with a series of Kung Fu classics like Drunken Master to his name. But the last film he directed was 1996's Tai Chi Boxer, since when his efforts have been geared to his work as Kung Fu choreographer on a series of Hollywood Kung Fu copycat action flicks such as The Matrix and Kill Bill.
The new film, True Legend, will tell the story of Chinese-style martial arts master So Chan, a wealthy man of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) obsessed with Kung Fu, who fell from grace to become a beggar after he and his family became the victims of conspiracies. However, after reviewing his past and working hard to transform his life, and now honored as "King of Beggars", he rose again as a Kung Fu legend, patriot and folk hero.
Beggar So's story has been adapted several times into TV dramas and films, including 1992's renowned comedy film King of Beggars by Hong Kong directors Gordon Chan and David Lam and starring Stephen Chow and Cheung Man.
Yuen's new star-studded cast will include Kung Fu star Chiu Man-Cheuk, Guo Xiaodong, actress Zhou Xun, and singer Jay Chou. Yuen revealed yesterday at a press conference in Beijing that Michelle Yeoh will also join the cast.
Yuen said this new film will have little by way of comedy -- rather it will be a tragic but inspiring drama. The cast members all told China.org.cn that they have read the script and considered it to be a touching story. How touching will it be? It will move you to tears, they said.
Taiwan pop star Jay Chou will play the role of the all-powerful "Kung Fu God", Yuen revealed. Chou said he is also considering writing and recording the theme song for the film, just as he did with Jet Li's Fearless. Fending off mounting doubts around Chou's participation, Yuen described him as a "cool guy" -- just right for the role and with the potential to do a good job in the film.
Chou, himself a Kung Fu fan, has directed and taken the lead role in two of his own films: Kung Fu Dunk and Secret last year. He also starred in Chinese blockbuster Curse of the Golden Flower by Zhang Yimou. The pop musician's ultimate star power with the younger generation is a factor that film-makers are desperate to exploit.
But Yuen insists Chiu Man-Cheuk, a true Kung Fu champion who, like Jet Li, first won fame in national and provincial martial arts competitions, is the man to deliver the spirit of the film and the leading role of beggar So Chan. Chiu Man-Cheuk's most successful films include Once Upon a Time in China 4 and The Legend of Fong Sai-Yuk
Thursday, November 27, 2008
By Keen Zhang