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 HKCinemagic 2

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Interview Gordon Chan, from The Big Heat to A-1
John Woo & Hard Boiled 1/1 - Page 5
Author(s) : Thomas Podvin
David Vivier
Date : 13/1/2005
Type(s) : Interview
 Intext Links  
People :
Chan Hing Kar
Jackie Chan
Stephen Chow Sing Chi
Chow Yun Fat
Kwan Hoi San
Tony Leung Chiu Wai
Tsui Hark
Barry Wong Ping Yiu
John Woo
Movies :
A Better Tomorrow
The Big Heat
Fight Back To School
Hard Boiled
Companies :
Film Workshop
Shaw Brothers
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Page 4 : Fight Back to School
Next >
Page 6 : Final Option, SDU, Michael Wong

HKCinemagic: I’d like to have a word with you on John Woo. He is said to be your mentor. Can you tell us how he influenced you?
Gordon Chan: Yes. Like I said, I was at the Film Workshop when John Woo was shooting A Better Tomorrow. He almost finished A Better Tomorrow 1 and I joined the Film Workshop. He was such a nice guy, we all called him ‘headmaster’.
HKCinemagic: But you, you called him ‘Prince’ in Cantonese…
Gordon Chan: (Laughing) That was how we treated him. He was a major headmaster. He taught us everything, and we went to him for everything. I was so lucky to have Tsui Hark and him together. Basically, my life in the Film Workshop consisted in meetings with Tsui Hark or meetings with John Woo. That was such a fulfilling experience. I wrote parts for the second A Better Tomorrow because Chan Hing Kar was writing for him and wrote on A Better Tomorrow. He eventually became a partner of mine. We were so close and so we get to work together and go through these script sessions at the time. And I wrote one script for him (Woo), which never ever get shot, which was about a bunch of killers – a pirate film. Tsui Hark was always saying I should take it and shoot it. It was about a bunch of assassins. I wrote that script, but then John left Film Workshop. I still wrote one draft for John, that was for the film with Tony Leung Chiu Wai and Chow Yun FatHard Boiled (1992). Because Barry Wong died when they were still shooting it. I finished the script and rewrote the Tony Leung’s part. I still remember when I came up with the ideas for that scene between Tony Leung and Kwan Hoi San, the triad boss. You know, the scene when he was surrounded by gangsters. And the triad boss told Tony he knew he was an inspector all the way. And John would say “I love this, I love this…” I wrote that for him... For free actually, they had no budget at all. They had no money.
HKCinemagic: No budget at all but for the explosions.
Gordon Chan: Because they needed the money for the explosions! (Laughing) We didn’t want to spend any more money, but thought we should finish it for Barry. And that’s why me and Chan Hing Kar and Ip Kwong Kim we revised the script and rewrote the whole thing for free and let Barry took credit. John just put a little mention at the end of the film, which we all agreed on and appreciated.
HKCinemagic: How is John Woo on the set?
Gordon Chan: We were used to go to the set to see him exploding everything! (Laughing) Oh, yes, it was fun. John’s set is very different from mine. Mine is like a carnival, John’s is like a battlefield. And he was so tense. He’s always tense, he’s always very concentrated. He never laughs on the set. He’s very serious. It’s very different from mine; I am always laughing.
HKCinemagic: Yes, it’s a different approach. You said in some interviews that you are always too nice with people.
Gordon Chan: During that 20-year long career of mine I only scolded someone twice on the set. I don’t know if it’s good or bad. The staff loves it. But for me, sometimes, I am too nice.
HKCinemagic: Was writing the script for Hard Boiled a way to switch from comedies to action movies?
Gordon Chan: Well, not quite. The script for The Big Heat was an action film. And I spent two years on it. I wrote 15 scripts on it. I had some much thought on action films during that period. Action films had become my major focus for two years. How to do it, what you can do, how you’re going to do it. After that I was always thinking that maybe I should do an action film. The fact is I was a model builder and I worked at the Shaw Brothers mainly because I built models, and I love weaponry, hardware and a lot of stuff. So I have been longing for action films. That’s why I made Stephen Chow as an SDU Special force policeman [in Fight Back to School]. I was kind of cheating, doing it bits by bits. But I still hadn’t had time to convince everybody I could shoot an action film. If you look at me, I am only 5 ft 6 in and skinny.
HKCinemagic: You are not built like Jackie Chan.
Gordon Chan: No, I am not Jackie Chan! And they never expected me to shoot an action film.
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Page 4 : Fight Back to School
Next :
Page 6 : Final Option, SDU, Michael Wong

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