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 HKCinemagic 2

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Interview with Ronny Yu
Hong Kong, his Jiang Hu* 1/1 - Page 3
Author(s) : David Vivier
Thomas Podvin
Date : 28/3/2004
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Leslie Cheung Kwok Wing
Brigitte Lin Ching Hsia
Movies :
The Bride With White Hair
The Phantom Lover
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Page 2 : Horror and fantasy in Hollywood
*Jiang Hu is a Cantonese word to describe the world of Chinese warriors where rules are different from the realistic world. Jiang Hu can also be used to described the world of gangsters or Triads. Here Jiang Hu is the other title of The Bride With White Hair, Between Love and Glory.

Special thanks to Ronny Yu for his time and kindness.

Interview conducted by David Vivier (Vlad) and Julien Leconte with the help of Thomas Podvin. Ronny Yu was interviewed at the Tulip Inn Hotel, Brussells, Belgium, on March 28th, 2004.
Our warmest thanks to the 2004 BIFFF. Thanks extended to Marie-France Dupagne.
Original pictures of Ronny Yu by Julien Leconte & David Vivier for HKCinemagic.com, movie pictures are (c) by their copyright holders. All rights reserved.

HKCinemagic : How did you feel when you heard about the death of Leslie Cheung?
R Y : I was in Los Angeles when I heard the news. I thought they were joking, it was April 1st, I wondered how they could make a joke on this… Then my cameraman called me to tell me, and I was sad, of course, but also angered. All the time I was with Leslie, he was the one who was always optimistic, even when we shot The Bride With White Hair which was the most difficult to me. He was calming, always supportive. It's deceiving how people can react. I was angered because he was so young, there were so much he could do… he was so generous. Before his death we talked about making another Hong Kong movie together.
HKCinemagic : He did a great part in Jiang Hu and Phantom Lover...
R Y : Phantom Lover is amazing, this is a very personal movie and with Leslie, this was something we both wanted to do, that's why he also produced and wrote all the songs.

When I looked at the character in Jiang Hu I thought it had to be Leslie Cheung, a rebellious almost like James Dean character. Everybody disagreed because Leslie was not a martial artist. I said "It doesn't matter, as long as he's a good actor, I can use stunt doubles to make him look realistic.

HKCinemagic : Was his character in Jiang-Hu different from the one depicted in the book?
R Y : Completely different. I love that story but I thought to make it more modern, that's why I went to meet the author, an 80 years old guy. He said "ok… go…whatever (imitating an old voice)". I was so excited, I thanked him very much and when he shut the door he said to me "Mr Yu?… (Speaking with a calm normal voice) Don't embarrass me." (Laughing) We changed a lot of things, the Siamese twins…
HKCinemagic : The idea of twins comes from the book?
R Y : No, no, it came by accident. We were with the scripts and the writers, trying to avoid getting normal bad guys, so boring. I wanted something new, more surreal. The discovery channel was on TV, end there was this report about those Siamese babies and I said "what if the bad guys are Siamese twins?". Everybody looked at me like if I was crazy! "How are you gonna shoot this?" they asked, we couldn't afford CGI. "the problem will be solved" I said. The concept was interesting: Siamese twins, one male, one female, what about their sexual desire? What if one wants sex? (Laughing). Nobody thought of that in Hong Kong movies!
HKCinemagic : One of the twin actors was Francis Ng…
R Y : Yeah, he's great. And crazy. (Laughing). We had to find a way to shoot them, I didn't want them to look awkward, they walk together etc… this could diminish their power and they had to have those witchy powers. I said "don't shoot them walking. They slide just like they were put on a dolly, just like ghosts…
HKCinemagic : In Jiang Hu, nobody's really good or bad…
R Y : For me I can identify with the twins, because they're inadequate. I feel sorry for them, and I wanted the audience to feel sorry for them, it's not by choice. They were born like that, with their anger and frustration.
HKCinemagic : The leading role was Brigitte Lin. How did you convince her to work with you?
R Y : Before Jiang Hu we knew each other for many years. We always tried to find a project to work on together. When I got the script I said to her "Brigitte, this is totally you, you gotta do this!". Brigitte started acting early in Taiwan, and when you start this early in the industry, you gotta be tough. She's that kind of woman, as a friend I can see it. Before she accepted the role, she hesitated because she had done so many parts like this. But I promised her this one would be different…
HKCinemagic : It's like you could make your own choices in Hong Kong, was it the same in America ?
R Y : You can't have it, but you have to fight in a very special way to get it. You can control all aspects of your film in Hong Kong , the shooting, the advertising… I love the system called test-screening in America , there are advantages when you make movies for this audience, you got nothing to lose…
HKCinemagic : Is that something you miss?
R Y : Like everything else, the Yin-Yang: you loose something, you gain something. It's a huge machine in America , that's been working for many years. It's amazing watching them release a movie, the promotional campaign, how they spend the money… I had no problem for that, all the things were for the good of the movie. People accused me to be a merchant, I told them that if you wanna survive, if you wanna continue to make movies, this is something you have to understand and accept. Why fighting and having to wait 10 years to make my movie? In 10 years, I can make 10 movies…
HKCinemagic : A final word?
R Y : Don't lose your dream, that's all we have!!
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