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Hey boys and girls, the New York Asian Film Festival afforded LMD a few words with the director of one of her favourite films of all time.  Andrew Lau stopped in for NYAFFís screening of the first two films of his Young and Dangerous series, which had ripples of influence all the way up to his Lauís own magnificent Infernal Affairs (aka LMD's fave HK movie, ever).  We had a small chat with Director Lau that began onstage and continued afterward.

Dig it!

 

Andrew Lau

 

The Lady Miz Diva:  Youíre synonymous with Hong Kong film, but weíre going through a very transitional time when we donít see films like Young and Dangerous or Infernal Affairs any longer.  Mainland co-production themes are a lot lighter and content is very limited.  Do you see a time when Hong Kong will be able to produce films with more controversial and serious subjects again?

Andrew Lau:  This is a very tough question for me.  In the last few years, a lot of my films have been Chinese co-productions.  Because we shoot in China, we have so many boundaries; the scripts have censorship, that kind of thing.  Certain subject matters we cannot touch, like Young and Dangerous we could not shoot in China.  I try to make to make an effort, but how can I move forward to make a co-production project like Hong Kong had before, this is hard because of the censorship.  That kind of subject we cannot shoot.  Political subjects, we cannot shoot.  I mean, Infernal Affairs, I cannot believe we can shoot because of the backlash.  It would cause a lot of controversy in China.  This is hard for us, but we have to face these kinds of things.  In the last few years, they are getting more open.  There are a lot of meetings between the people who control Chinese film censorship.  The people are getting younger and younger and more open minded.  Now we can shoot some subject matter of police corruption in China.  Itís a big step.  Itís happy for us.  I think it will change.  I want to say it will change.  We will look forward to that, it will change. Iím still young, okay? {Laughs}

 

LMD:  Watching Young and Dangerous 1 and 2 reminded me at how great you are at creating films with memorable characters, like Anthony Wong chewing the scenery in the second film. How free do you allow your actors to be?  Do you prefer they stick to the script or do you just let them go?

AL:  At that moment, we were very free.  Even the script, when the scriptwriter gave it to me, we did a lot of changing because I wanted everybody live and sometimes the scriptwriter maybe wrote too much dialog.  If youíve seen Young and Dangerous 1 and 2, you see thereís not much dialog.  We rehearsed a lot.  We shot very fast, but we rehearsed a lot.  One scene we rehearsed for about three hours.  That way everybody knew what to do and what was the inside story.  Of course, before shooting, we had created characters for the actors, like Ekin {Cheng} would have muscle, and then Chicken, he would be more modern - his hair would be like you!  We tried to make the characters more vivid.  And the girl, weíd make her real sexy and beautiful, but she would talk with a stammer.  Before shooting, we would think about adding more and more to the characters for them, for everybody, even the priest.  There was a lot of off-beat acting.  It was good, it was not normal.  So, we talked and talked about what the character is like.  With Anthony, it was like that, we talked a lot.  I mean theyíre good actors. Francis Ng is a very good actor.  So we talked a lot, even about the costumes, they would be wearing what kinds of things.  We wanted to make it look good.

 

LMD:  You are filming Revenge of the Green Dragons here in New York with Martin Scorsese as one of the producers.  His remake of Infernal Affairs, The Departed, was a huge success.  With regard to our discussion about moving Hong Kong film forward with Chinese co-productions, does your international success reverberate in China and make them say, ĎHey, the world is looking at us?í

AL:  Iím not thinking that big.  Iím not a saviour.  I try to be alive - this is honestly speaking - and I try to make more movies.  I donít know if itís making Hong Kong movies - going back to do that.  I just want to make more movies and have more audience look at my movies.  That means the Hong Kong movieís still alive.  Thatís why I try to shoot a lot of movies.  I try to film a lot of subject matter again, maybe outside China, maybe inside China - both ways.  Some subject matter cannot be released in China; okay, fine.  If the investorís okay, I shoot.  We have to fight against very tight censorship: We have a gangster movie, but we cannot talk about gangsters.  How to shoot the movie?  But we try some way; letís try something that can make it work.  So, this is my objective.  I know that they have rules, so many rules.  Everybody has rules, even here.  We try to solve the problems.  We cannot change the China government, but we hope that they will change.  So, for my films, itís very positive.  They have honestly changed a lot.

 

LMD:  We know youíre working on Revenge of the Green Dragons now, but can you tell us about the next project youíre working on?

AL:  This is with Chow Yun-Fat and Nicholas Tse, and in English itís called Back to Macau.  Itís like a comedy, but of course weíre talking about inside a casino, that kind of thing.

 

LMD:  When will we see it?

AL:  Next year. Weíre shooting right after this.

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva

July 4th, 2013

 

 

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