The cast of "Dragon Blade" at the press conference.
"Dragon Blade" tells the tale of Huo An, the Silk Road Protection Squad Commander during the Han Dynasty, who is framed for a wrong he did not commit and is enslaved. Meanwhile, a Roman general is on the run after his mission of rescuing the Prince and escapes to China. This heroic duo soon meets each other in the Western Dessert and embarks on a thrilling journey together.
With its budget of USD65 million, it is currently the most expensive Chinese movie ever produced.
Jackie Chan's 2012 film, "CZ12", which was GSC Movies highest grossing title with a domestic collection of RM20 million, definitely set the bar high and "Dragon Blade" is expected to perform on par, if not better.
Jackie Chan's star power, added with the presence of great Hollywood actors, a famous South Korean singer-actor and talented Chinese actresses, will be more than enough to draw in the crowd to the cinemas come this 19 February.
Cinema Online met with the stars when they flew in for a press conference in Malaysia recently. Read on to find out whether Adrien Brody liked the tough filming condition in the Gobi Desert, whether Mika Wang thinks her onscreen husband is romantic and whether John Cusack is really a Hollywood actor.
Datuk Jackie Chan stars as Huo An.
Cinema Online: Hello Datuk Jackie Chan, congratulations on your Datuk title. Are you getting used to people calling you by that title?
Datuk Jackie Chan: When I flew in here this morning, the immigration officers kept saying "Datuk, Datuk", then I realised they were addressing me. Even my friend who used to call me 'taiko' (big brother) now calls me Datuk.
So you would prefer being called 'taiko' over Datuk?
Chan: Give me a few months to adjust myself to the Datuk title. [Laughs] Then later on you can call me 'taiko' again, it's friendlier.
Hello Si-won, how was it like working with Adrien Brody?
Choi Si-won: He's an Oscar-winning actor, so I'm happy to have been able to act with him. He's friendly and kind. This is my first time using English dialogues while acting. When I asked him whether I was ruining his acting mojo with my English dialogue, he only said, "Don't worry, brother, you're from Han dynasty."
You had to film a fight scene with each other, who is the better fighter between the two of you?
Choi: I would say Brody.
Adrien Brody: He's being modest. He's a very accomplished fighter.
Datuk, who do you think is the best fighter among the cast?
Chan: You're putting me in a hard spot here. Everyone's good. I'll leave it to the audience to decide who's better.
One of the fight scenes in "Dragon Blade".
Brody, what were the challenges you faced in working on an Asian set?
Brody: I've worked on an Asian set before but not at the desert. I've never worked at the Gobi desert before. I don't know anyone who has but our director, Daniel Lee, has an affinity for the desert. It is majestic but also challenging, even more so than any of us for all the extras and the horses.
The fight sequence for me was very exciting. It was a tremendous honour just to get to know Jackie and to work with him as an actor but then to do this fight scene was a real dream for me. Of course being in the dessert those things are additionally challenging but I don't look at the challenges so much, I look at what I take from that experience and it was a very positive experience. I'm not opposed to going back, I liked it there.
Cusack and Brody, as Hollywood actors, what made you decide to take on this project?
John Cusack: Well, I'm from Chicago...
Brody: [Laughs] I'm from New York.
Cusack: ....not Hollywood. And Brody's from Brooklyn. Well, for me, I grew up loving Asian cinema and I grew up loving Mr. Jackie Chan. He sorts of hates us because everyone always says "Oh, Jackie Chan is so great, it's such an honour to work with Jackie Chan" but it happens to be true. I love him as a martial artist, as a filmmaker and a presence on screen for years.
So to be able to work with him in China on a big movie that he's been working on for seven years is an honour. Not only act with him but have him choreograph a fight with me and him. This is like a childhood dream for me. Now I know that's boring for you, I know you're bored with this kind of talk but it's true. [Grins] The world is better with Jackie Chan movies.
Lin Peng as Cold Moon.
Lin Peng, was it difficult to do your fight scene with Jackie?
Lin: It was definitely a big pressure for me. He asked me to hit him hard but it was difficult to do since he's someone with a higher status. He had to keep scolding me before I could muster up the courage to really hit him. Though I did keep apologising every time I did and that made him even angrier [laughs].
Mika, in the movie, you're the only one who has a romantic scene in the movie with Datuk. Do you think he's a romantic actor, especially when he was crying for you?
Mika Wang: For me, when I found out that I had to play his wife, I felt pressured. He's not just a romantic actor, he's a romantic person in real life. Datuk is very nice, even toward us new actors. All of us worked so well on set, Lin Peng and I were even addressed as First Wife (Mika) and Second Wife (Lin) while on set.
Mika Wang as Xiuqing.
How hard was it filming in the Gobi Desert? Paint us a picture.
Chan: Okay, so we have 350 crew members, 800 plus extras. I taught everyone to crumple their water bottle, to show that they really drank to the last drop and not wasting any water. If each one of us doesn't save water, it's a waste. Now every day, they have to wake up at 2am. By 5am they had to start eating breakfast. By the time they walk to the desert, line up, it's already past 11am. By 12pm it was lunch time. We only got to shoot at 3pm. But we were lucky because the sun only went down at 9pm. We have a very harsh director who made us shoot all the way till 12 midnight.
We don't have that many different nationalities in China so we had to cast people from out of the country. They were willing to work with us when they hear 'Jackie Chan'. But after two tiring days, they'd be "I want to go home'. [Jokes] We even get free facial scrub every day because of the sandstorms. That's how tough it was.
I stood together with the extras every day, to show them that I was the same. No umbrella for me, no special treatments. The toilet was really far, if you take the horse it would be faster, around 20 minutes. We couldn't take the car because it would leave wheel tracks in the sand, we don't want those tracks to end up in the film.
Thank you so much for your time, may "Dragon Blade" be a big success!
"Dragon Blade" cast: Thank you!
Cinema Online, 16 February 2015