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Hey boys and girls, your ever-luviní LMD had the chance to meet with Hong Kong action history when the Fat Dragon, himself, Sammo Hung, flew into NYC.  Long revered as the ďbiggest big brotherĒ of  the "Three Dragons," along with Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao, and for his incredible career as an actor, director, writer and fight choreographer, Sammo, the 58 -year-old action phenomenon, sat down with us for a leisurely chat.

 

Sammo Hung

 

The Lady Miz Diva:  Sammo, Iíd like to congratulate you on winning the first Star Asia Lifetime Achievement award at the New York Asian Film Festival. Are you surprised about the great reception you get from American fans?

Sammo Hung:  Yes, Iím very excited and surprised and I feel sad. I get the award and it looks I need to retire soon. {Laughs}

 

LMD:  Does it ever occur to you to slow down? It seems like your fights are more intense than 25 years ago. I felt every fall in Sha Po Lang - one of the greatest HK action movies ever made. I worry about you, Sammo, how are you feeling?

SH:  Iím fine, Iím fine. I like my job, you know? And after many years I still feel very nice and very good. Actually, I love movies, this is very important. All the time I try it make myself happy and when youíre happy you have a lot of things to think about.

 

LMD:  Your grandmother was famous martial artist Chin Tsi-ang, your grandfather was the well-known director Hung Chung-ho and both your parents worked behind the scenes in film.  Was there ever any chance of your working outside of the film industry?

SM:  No, I donít think so, because my grandpa and grandma, they were very popular people.  I was aware all the time with my mother and father.  After I was born, my parents, grandma and my grandpa, they all stopped the film business already.  Then I was like a normal child; I went to normal school, but I didnít like normal school.  Then I went to the Peking Opera school.  This was a new style and new study.  Actually, for my family, I donít think there was any relationship {to being in films}.   At that moment, I just thought about some friends on my motherís side, their parents, they were worried about Sammo, ďOh what will he do later after this school?Ē  ďOh, let him learn some opera and then he can take up something later.Ē

 

LMD:  Was there one most important lesson from the China Drama School that you still keep today?

SH:  I think everything was very important for me.  Because at the time and moment I learned something, my mind canít think about other things.  Learning drama and action, whatever, this was very important and training until now.  You think about how to do everything great.

 

LMD:  Of all the different film work you do, acting, fight choreography, directing, writing, which is the most important to you and why?

SH:  Actually, what I love to do is directing and I love to write.  I love to keep some ideas that I want to think about and then how to create the stories and most important are the characters.  I love to create the characters.  Iím not the hero type; my movies have some many different characters.

 

LMD:  Iíd like to talk about your fight choreography.  All the films you have worked on have a similar strength, but they all look different.  Iím thinking of the beautiful fight in Three Kingdoms scored to Peking Opera.  How do you determine what style or look is necessary for a fight?

SH:  Mostly Iíve gotta know the film first, the characters.  I always follow the character to create the fight, whether itís fighting or just action, whichever, you donít put the character into the fight because the audience will watch and it means nothing.  If you can create the fight with the character in the same tones and same movement, the audience will feel something.

 

LMD:  In the films playing at the festival, Ip Man and Ip Man 2 and in Sha Po Lang, you have a wonderful collaboration with Donnie Yen.  Can you talk about working with him?

SH:  Actually Mr. Yen, heís a very good action star and whenever we create the fights, heís very easy to handle.  We have a very good time.  Mostly when we fight, itís very easy for us.  I love to play with Donnie Yen; heís the best to play with since Jackie Chan and Yuen Biao.  Those three guys are a very good combination.

 

LMD:  How you feel about popularity in the US?  Was it ever important to you?  You had a big success here with the TV series Martial Law, but you never seemed to make a big effort to break America.  You work hard, but you never seem desperate for the success you have.  Like many of your contemporaries, did you ever feel like you had to pursue US fame?

SH:  Of course itís important to me, but I havenít tried to deliberately make myself a success outside of Hong Kong.  Iím a very low key, mellow kind of guy.  If thereís an opportunity, of course Iíll try it out and see it will work, but Iím not going to fall over myself to try to do that.

 

LMD:  Iíd like to talk about your work with actresses.  You make them look amazing and strong, but still feminine and sexy.  Do you approach fight choreography differently with women differently than if you were staging men? 

SH:  Actually itís a very big difference because the ladies are still ladies.  When we create fights for the men, a man can get hurt, he can do anything, whatever, to me itís like he can handle something like that, you know?  But a girl still is a girl.  You gotta be more careful and youíve gotta know more what do when they get hurt.  One thing {with ladies onscreen} is when youíre hurt; you take it on your heart only.  You cannot make a face {makes classic Sammo pained face}, no.  What sheís gotta do is be the tough girl.  Sheís gotta pay something; the girls who are action stars, theyíre a little bit harder and theyíre more harder than men, cos in their body their energy is not like a man.  If he wants to do something, he wants to be a man, but she still is a girl, so we need more energy focus for them.  More protection.

 

LMD:  What is the worst injury youíve suffered on a set?

SH:  Actually, I got an operation. Iíve broken my legs 7 times.  Head and arms, 10 times.  One is here {points to forearm}, one is here {rolls up sleeve to reveal a deep, vertical scar going completely around his shoulder} it took 8 months in a brace to heal.  That was in Eastern Condors.  Three years later, I still couldnít move it.  I was making Millionaireís Express; I had to make the movie so I had to get a cortisone shot.  I got hurt in the snow on the mountain and then I go down, they give me a shot. 

 

LMD:  Between you on the mountain in Millionaireís Express and Jackie nearly killing himself on Armour of God, please stay off the mountains!

{Sammo laughs}

LMD:  You have been a part of every important era in modern Hong Kong action cinema since the 1960ís, very notably in the 1970ís, in your own starring films throughout the 1980ís, and recently in movies like Sha Po Lang, Ip Man and Three kingdoms, youíre seeing another new age in martial arts filmmaking.  Is there a particular era of action filmmaking that you enjoyed the most?

SH:  Iíve worked for more than 40 years.  I started working 40 years ago, Iím so old, you know?  Literally, because the timing is different -- when I worked in 1973, 1975 and then until now, it just rolls like a wheel, you know, roll, roll, roll.   And then the timing {changes} we gotta follow up; this year the Paris movie and two weeks later we got an action movie, right now a comedy.  Because the timing goes forward, push, push, push, and right now the new technology for the audience they will see a lot of things, you know?  And then how do you create the fights and how do you make the action movies, how do you chase the time and the audience?  {A filmmaker} has a lot of things on his mind; you gotta do something to catch them.

 

LMD:  Now you have to start designing fights in 3D!

SH:  {Laughs} Thatís right!

 

LMD:  Are you tired of being asked about Bruce Lee?

SH:  Actually I haven't talked too much about Bruce Lee, just a few things.  Because Bruce Lee, heís our hero.  So many things, his movies, his posters on the walls, so many people have never forgotten him, you know?

 

LMD:  Have you ever considered writing an autobiography?

SH:  For so many years friends have asked me that question, but I donít like it.  I donít know why.  Iíve done so many bad things, but I donít want anyone to write it.  I donít want anyone to write it if itís not true, so why would I do this?

 

LMD:  Is there a film that youíve made that you feel best represents you?

SH:  I like so many of the movies Iíve done, like Prodigal Son and Pedicab Driver and Heart of Dragon and Eastern Condors and Millionaireís Express.  Actually I like a lot of them!

 

LMD:  If you retired, like you mentioned you might after this festival, how would you like your fans like those who came to the awards & the festival to remember your career?

SH:  I donít know how to say that, but I always love that people always remember me.  When people see me they say hello, whatever. But even if they donít know me or forget me, I donít mind that, too! {Laughs}

 

LMD:  When you think of the great Hong Kong action stars of the last 40 years thereís Bruce Lee, thereís you, thereís Jackie, thereís Jet Li and Donnie Yen, but it doesnít seem like thereís anybody behind you guys.  Can you think of an action star who is coming up that we should look out for?

SH:  Now itís very hard to know.  I hope that in a short time I can know who is coming up and ask to do some good action films in the future, but now itís very hard.  Iím still looking for, Iím still waiting.

 

LMD:  What then do you see as the future of Hong Kong action films?

SH:  Itís really hard to see.  Itís true, because the while action film {market} is very bad because of the economy.  Hopefully Ip Man 1 and 2 will let the producer or the other filmmakers -- mostly they have the same feeling Ė {itíll} give more filmmakers a chance to make good films.  Then I see the timing, the new, young generation, theyíre coming again.  Thatís very important.  In the market, in the box office, we donít have a chance to see any action movies; itís giving no chance to the new generation.

 

LMD:  Is there the possibility of an Ip Man 3?

SH:  No, actually, I donít want to make Ip Man 3 anymore.  Thereís a lot of movies about kung fu now.  For me, this was because the writer really put his heart into writing the story and the director put in a lot of heart to make this film and Sammo Hung has a lot of heart.  Actually, Iíd love to do another action film.  Success or not, it doesnít matter but they must put the heart in the film.  A little more heart, a little more feeling, then its okay.

 

LMD:  Whatís next for you, Sammo?

SH:  My next movie I donít know how you call it in English, but itís about the background character in the Peking Opera.  The main opera character is called Wu Sheng, but the main story is around the stage.  I heard people talk about, ďOh it looks like an opera,Ē but itís not, you will see.  The story is very good the character is very good.  Iím the action director, but I like this movie.   When I took this job I just finished Ip Man 2 and then because they wanted to make this movie in March, we were training in January and then they got behind.

 

LMD:  Will you please give a message to our readers?

SH:  Actually, I would love to say something for everybody.  I hope everybody has good health and take it easy on everything in life and not to be too hard on yourself.  If your heart is good, but in your mind you have to take it easy.

 

LMD:  Uh-huh.  Sammo, I think you need to listen to yourself!

SH:  Thatís just like me, everything I gotta do harder, you know?  Iím always, ďI want this one! I want this one!Ē  But I need to keep doing something, I need to create something, this is very important, but then after that, if you do it, if itís a success or not, doesnít matter.

 

~ The Lady Miz Diva Vťlez

June 26th, 2010

 

 

 

 

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