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Thread: Once Upon a Time in Shanghai

  1. #1
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    Once Upon a Time in Shanghai

    Sammo & Chow. Cool. Oh wait...Wong Jing?
    Chow Yun Fat And Sammo Hung Anchor ONCE UPON A TIME IN SHANGHAI
    by Todd Brown, March 2, 2012 11:48 AM

    A pair of Hong Kong action icons will be pairing up for upcoming true crime film Once Upon A Time In Shanghai with word that Chow Yun Fat and Sammo Hung will be anchoring the cast.

    Wong Jing will direct with Andrew Lau producing the film, the story based on the true life crime boss Du Yuesheng who built his crime empire through the 1920s and 30s in Shanghai and had close ties to Chiang Kai-shek.

    Interestingly this is not Chow's first time tackling Du's life. The 1980's television series The Bund - the series that helped catapult him to stardom - also revolved around the crime lord, making this a homecoming of sorts for Chow.

    Once Upon A Time In Shanghai will be exhibited in IMAX, so expect some big time spectacle.
    Gene Ching
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    I think the details of this movie have changed alot since this article was written. My kungfu brother (and forum member) Philip Ng is the lead in this film. The action director is Yuen Woo Ping, sammo is still in it as well as Andy On (True legend). I saw some photos from the filming and the sets look amazing. I think this is going to be a very good film. It was described to me as being based on the Chan Koon Tai movie "Boxer from Shantung"

    This is a teaser trailer for the film, directed by Woo Ping, showing off some of Philip's martial arts skills

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature...&v=MvXMolColkg
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    Once Upon a Time in Shanghai (上海灘馬永貞) teaser trailer

    Once Upon a Time in Shanghai (上海灘馬永貞) teaser trailer
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvXMolColkg

    producer - Wong Jing
    director - Wong Ching Po
    action director - Yuen Woo Ping
    starring - Sammo Hung, Philip Ng, Andy On

    recent articles about this project -
    http://twitchfilm.com/news/2012/06/o...n-shanghai.php
    http://www.beyondhollywood.com/once-...everyones-ass/
    http://www.fareastfilms.com/newsPage...nghai-4000.htm
    http://www.impactonline.co/news/699-...n-eastern-time

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    that looks pretty good.
    For whoso comes amongst many shall one day find that no one man is by so far the mightiest of all.

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    Ma Wing Jing - it was done with Chan Koon Tai in the 70s, Takeshi Kaneshiro (Gum Sing Mo) in the 90s and now with Philip. It is a good story and with Yuen Woo Ping involved this is great for Phil. I have seen him in a number of different HK movies but to get the lead hero role is a big breakthrough for him. Awesome job!!!

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    New trailer for the upcoming film, "Once Upon A Time In Shanghai"

    New trailer for the upcoming film, Once Upon A Time In Shanghai. Action directed by the legendary Yuen Woo-Ping. Directed by Wong Ching-Po. Executive produced by Wong Jing. Starring Philip Ng, Andy On, and Sammo Hung.


  7. #7
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    awesome!
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    On the cover of Time Out HK

    Way to go, Phillip!

    Interview: Philip Ng
    Posted: 8 Jan 2014


    After toiling away in martial arts cinema for a decade, Philip Ng has landed the breakout role that may well make him the heir to Hong Kongís action star throne. Before the release of the film, Once Upon a Time in Shanghai, the nascent star talks about his journey from fanboy to leading man. By James Marsh. Photography by Calvin Sit. Art direction Jeroen Brulez

    Last year saw martial arts legends Jet Li and Donnie Yen turn 50. While both continue to work, their days at the top of Hong Kong cinemaís action heap are seriously numbered. Suitable successors, however, are proving thin on the ground. Potential candidates like Wu Jing and Andy On jostle for attention, but none have yet to land a genuine breakout role to secure their status as the heir apparent to the action star throne. And, indeed, while stars are emerging elsewhere in Southeast Asia, such as Tony Jaa, Eddie Peng and Iko Uwais, Hong Kong director Wong Ching-poís new film Once Upon a Time in Shanghai, an artistically vibrant yet action-packed retelling of Shaw Bros classic Boxer From Shantung, has thrown another relative unknown, Philip Ng, into its starring role, in an effort to keep the crown on home turf.

    Born in Hong Kong but educated in Illinois, USA, Ng was raised in a martial arts-infused household brimming with old-school talent. His father established the Ng Family Chinese Martial Arts Association in Chicago and Philip is today credited as head instructor. After spending his summer vacations in Hong Kong training under the legendary Wong Shun-leung, Ng finally persuaded his parents to let him try his hand at becoming a movie star. Without any solid contacts in the industry, but schooled in a fistful of disciplines including Wing Chun, Hung Gar and Tae Kwon Do, Ng moved to Hong Kong in 2003.

    In the 10 years since, Ng has clawed his way up the industry ladder, learning action choreography under the tutelage of Hong Kongís finest, Chin Kar Lok, while snatching up supporting roles in films like New Police Story, Invisible Target and Bodyguards & Assassins along the way. Now firm friends with like-minded transatlantic kung fu stars Andy On, Nicolas Tse and Vanness Wu, Ng has signed with Wong Jing, the uber-prolific movie impresario responsible for launching almost every major star in Hong Kong cinema. Once Upon a Time in Shanghai looks to be the perfect vehicle for Wongís new star, appearing alongside genre heavyweights Sammo Hung, Chan Koon-tai and Yuen Cheung-yan in supporting roles, and featuring fight choreography from the incomparable Yuen Woo-ping.

    Ahead of the filmís release, Time Out sits down with Hong Kongís great new hope to discuss his experiences making Once Upon a Time in Shanghai and where he sees the future of Hong Kong action cinemaÖ

    When you moved to Hong Kong, you didnít know anyone in the industry. How did you get started?
    When I was younger my father would send me to Hong Kong to train Wing Chun with Wong Chun-leung and after my si fu passed away I still came and trained with my kung fu brothers. During that time some of my college friends introduced me to people already in the industry and I thought, ĎI think I can do thisí. So I cut together this little seven-minute showreel of me doing kung fu and I got one to Chin Ka-lok. He needed someone who knew Hung Kuen and Wing Chun. So I got hired to work on the film Star Runner, where I met Andy On and Vanness Wu, two of my best friends in this industry.

    What was the most valuable lesson you learned working with Chin Ka-lok?
    He said I know you want to be an actor but there are a lot of people like you and you donít have any knowledge. If you work with me and learn how to film, edit and direct, then when you get a chance to go in front of the camera, youíll be a step ahead. So I dove headfirst into that and learnt everything about camera work and editing. At the same time I was working as an assistant choreographer so I was learning as I went. Not long after that I started getting acting jobs and I got a manager.

    Even after your talents had been recognised, why do you think it has taken so long for you to land a lead role?
    This industry is very realistic. If they donít perceive you have a sense of value then you are useless. It was awkward at first but I understand the way the game works. My mum said something that I always remember: every opportunity is an opportunity, it doesnít matter how big or small the role is. So I played the game and worked my butt off every time.

    Finally in Once Upon a Time in Shanghai, youíre in a leading role, working with Master Yuen Woo-ping. How did that collaboration work?
    Master Yuen and his crew are outstanding. I canít remember another movie where everyone knew what they were doing and communicated so well. I remember the first production meeting with Wong Jing, Wong Ching-po, Yuen Woo-ping and everyone to discuss how to approach the martial arts. I felt it should be like 80s or 90s style fighting, more about rhythm and looking real. We discussed whether to give each character a specific style, but in the end we kept it loose and natural, which gave us all more freedom. He would say to me things like Ďpunch-punch-slip-block-duckí but I would express it with whatever I knew.

    The film feels like a conscious shift for Wong Ching-po into more commercial filmmaking. How was your experience working with him?
    Wong is one of the best directors Iíve ever worked with. I donít say that because he made me look cool Ė he did and I appreciate that Ė but he just loves film. Once Upon a Time in Shanghai is a very cinematic approach to a commercial kung fu film. He knows what heís doing.

    In your first lead role you must have encountered plenty of new challenges.
    It was hard. We shot the ending in like 12 to 14 days. Half an hour of fighting footage. Yuen Biao told me they had two months to shoot the ending of Millionaires Express. Our whole movie was shot in less than two months! But even Master Yuen Woo-ping was pleasantly surprised by the result. It was tough but it was awesome.

    The film also stars Chan Koon-tai, who played your role in the original Boxer From Shantung.
    It was funny because he knows my father, but Iíd never really talked to him. Iím a kung fu nerd and Iíve seen all his movies, so it was kind of surreal. I would always say to him ĎYouíre the original, Iím the fan baní Ė the pirated copy Ė just so he didnít punch me too hard during our fight scenes.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
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    continued from previous post



    While your film harks back to old-school onscreen action, the rest of the world seems very reliant on CGI. How do you think this will affect action choreography?
    If CGI is used to enhance the action, like sound effects, then itís all good. But when CGI starts to replace the action then the audience is going to recognise the difference. You still need a human component for the audience to believe it. I think thatís what attracts people to kung fu movies. Although, for me, story is very important too. It doesnít have to be complicated: I get beat up, I train, I win. But you have to care about the guy to root for him.

    Do you think Hollywood has created a problem, by replacing all their action stars with invincible superheroes?
    Iím a big fan of the comic book genre. Itís not a bad thing because it still involves choreography and some martial arts. But even back in the 80s, when there was a human element, you never thought those guys like Schwarzenegger were going to die. Everyone else was, but not those guys.

    So whoís doing it right in Hollywood right now?
    I like JJ Perry, who choreographed Undisputed 2. Of course Brad Allanís stuff is awesome, because he trained with the best! But in terms of a whole kung fu movie, I donít think Hollywood really has anything comparable. Every country has their export so I donít mind so much. Itís hard to export Hong Kong comedy because itís based on language, but you can always export action because itís a universal language. If you want kung fu movies you have to look to Asia.

    Do you think Hong Kong was only able to produce the action it did in the 80s by throwing caution to the wind?
    There was a lot of trial and error, definitely. But that still exists today, which is why I enjoy working in Asia. Sometimes it can be dangerous but ingenuity and innovation comes from that. I have spoken to Master Yuen many times about shooting in America and he tells me that, there, everything is choreographed ahead of time and canít really be changed on set.

    Because most of the actors arenít martial artists so canít improvise in the same way?
    Right. Iíll often have an idea of whatís going on and a shot list, but certain things change because of the environment or the actors arenít comfortable or because we havenít had months of rehearsals. Honestly, the only way we were able to shoot half an hour of footage for Once Upon a Time in Shanghai is because they would show me a sequence once and I basically just did it. After a while your brain gets re-wired, you just remember stuff, you just do it. I guess these last 10 years moving slowly up the ladder have really helped me, because without that training I could not have shot that half-hour.

    As the forefathers move aside, do you feel ready to step up and become Hong Kongís next great action star?
    I just thank God for the opportunity. When I was in America watching VHS tapes of Yuen Biao, Jackie, Sammo and Donnie I never thought I would come here, I was just a fanboy. I remember thinking I would pay to get hit by Jackie Chan in a movie. And now Iím working with these guys, theyíre my friends. I get goosebumps just talking about it.

    Once Upon a Time in Shanghai opens on Thu Jan 16.
    Phillip looks quite different in these photos.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
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    THR review

    Haven't heard anything about the U.S. distribution of this film yet.

    Once Upon a Time in Shanghai (E Zhan): Film Review
    2:57 AM PST 1/16/2014 by Clarence Tsui

    See Movies, Mega-Vision Pictures, Henan Film & TV Group, Henan Film Studio
    "Once Upon a Time in Shanghai"

    The Bottom Line
    White-knuckle action scenes belie a dearth of flesh-and-blood drama.

    Venue
    Public screening, Hong Kong, Jan. 16, 2014

    Director
    Wong Ching-po

    Cast
    Philip Ng, Andy On, Sammo Hung, Hu Ran, Chen Kuan-tai, Yuen Cheung-yan, Fung Hak-on
    Newcomer Philip Ng and a cast of mostly martial-arts veterans star in producer Wong Jingís second Shanghai-set, 1930s gangland actioner in as many years.

    Throughout his career, Hong Kong screenwriter-director Wong Jing has been known for making tills ring by milking fads dry Ė and true to form, his latest film is a prime exemplar of that modus operandi. Wasting no time to follow his bigger-budget, Bona-backed 1930s gangland drama The Last Tycoon Ė which took $24.5 million during its month-long run in China just a year ago Ė he has now returned with a similarly-themed but modest-sized production shaped to capitalize on the recent demand for action-filled bromances, demonstrated by the critical and commercial success of films like Dante Lamís Unbeatable.

    Itís no surprise, therefore, to see scant originality in Once Upon A Time in Shanghai, whether in its title (the Sergio Leone/Tsui Hark-aping English handle is accompanied by an original Chinese version Ė E Zhan Ė taking its cue from that of Unbeatable and Johnnie Toís Drug War), premise (itís a reworking of a story twice adapted on film and thrice as a TV series) and patriotic leanings (with typical caricatures of Japanese villains probably designed to exploit the nationalist sentiments invoked by the current Sino-Japanese political standoff over the Diaoyu Islands).

    For all its flaws -- ranging from thin characterization in Wongís screenplay to director Wong Ching-poís heavy-handed deployment of slow-motion trickery and stirring muzak -- Shanghai flickers only through Yuen Cheung-yanís action choreography, ably brought alive by a cast featuring the martial-arts genreís prime upstarts or elder statesmen. With their fights basically burning expressways to each otherís (and the viewersí) skulls, Shanghai should play well to hardcore kung-fu aficionados as an exotic artifact, what with its ďpedigreeĒ of revisiting a Shaw Brothers classic (namely Chang Chehís The Boxer from Shantung, from 1972). Itís perhaps a raison díetre that explains its surprising presence at International Film Festival Rotterdam, where it will make its international premiere in the Spectrum section entry next week.

    Just like The Boxer from Shantung (and the 1997 film Hero, also a Shaw Brothers production), Shanghai refashions the real-life 19thcentury martial arts expert Ma Yongzhen into a fighter caught in the crossfire of the titular cityís chaotic mob wars in the 1930s. Unlike in these previous incarnations -- where the character succumbs to the temptations of power and money as the modern-day metropolis eats into him -- Shanghaiís Ma is purity personified a la Bruce Lee in Fists of Fury. Rather than going through some kind of rite of passage, the penniless country boy (played by Philip Ng, a Chicago-educated martial arts actor getting top-billing for the first time) here remains steadfastly principled, a perennial beacon of moral light burning undimmed even as he befriends the ambitious wannabe Godfather Long Qi (Andy On, Cold War). Instead of revealing some kind of evil id under his new best friendís corrosive influence, Ma -- who continues to live in a back-alley ghetto presided over by the righteous master Tie (Sammo Hung) -- actually converts Long, with the latter slowly growing into a good gangster as they go to war against a triumvirate of old-school, opium-hawking mobsters (played by Yuen Chuen-yan himself, Fung Hak-on and Chen Kuan-tai, the original Ma Yongzhen in Boxer from Shantung) and their Japanese backers.

    Itís a simplistic, wafer-thin narrative that belies an early pretense of an epic about a tumultuous episode in Chinese history (the film begins with a heavily-stylized opening sequence in which images of a shipís hold packed with ailing and worse-for-wear ťmigrťs play backdrop to on-screen texts speaking of people rushing to ďa city of dreamsĒ where ďonly the strong surviveĒ). Itís telling that the first impression of Shanghai that wows Ma isnít the vistas of the famous Bund; instead, he (and the viewer) is made to marvel at the cityís splendor through the very limited image of a well-attired couple kissing in a back alley as a single limousine passes by behind them. Rather than an intentional avoidance of visual bombast, this scene only serves as a template of the thinly-layered proceedings to follow. For all its bone-cracking action sequences, Shanghai is in general as undercooked as its special effects.

    Just as the ample flying axes and machetes -- inexplicably, no one uses a gun in this film -- suggests a 3-D project unrealized, the half-baked story struggles to generate a complete engagement with the charactersí trials and tribulations in a merciless, fatalistic haven of criminality, and (as we now know) eventual occupation by a brutal invading power. Once upon a time, Ma Yongzhenís story was deployed as an effective morality tale and kickstarted the golden age of the gangster genre in Hong Kong filmmaking; here, itís turned into a spectacle and not much else.

    Venue: Public screening, Hong Kong, Jan. 16, 2014
    Production Companies: See Movies, Mega-Vision Pictures, Henan Film & TV Group, Henan Film Studio
    Director: Wong Ching-po
    Cast: Philip Ng, Andy On, Sammo Hung, Hu Ran, Chen Kuan-tai, Yuen Cheung-yan, Fung Hak-on
    Producers: Wong Jing, Connie Wong
    Executive Producers: Wong Jing, Wong Ai-ling, Zong Xuejie, Li Yan
    Screenwriter: Wong Jing
    Director of Photography: Jimmy Wong
    Action Director: Yuen Cheung-yan
    Art Director: Andrew Cheuk
    Costume Designer: Connie Au Yeung
    Editor: Wenders Li, Wong Mo-heng
    Music: Anthony Cheng, Hubert Ho, So Wang-ngai
    International Sales: Mega-Vision Pictures
    In Cantonese
    No rating, 97 minutes
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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    Once Upon a Time in Shanghai/惡戰 Movie Review



    Movie Review: Once Upon a Time in Shanghai/惡戰
    Friday, Jan 10, 2014 3:06PM / Press Release
    https://www.alivenotdead.com/seantie...e-3465639.html

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    I’m not really a fan of Wong Ching Po; I enjoyed Jiang Hu/江湖, but after Ah Sou/阿嫂 I skipped his next few films. So I’m not familiar with his recent work.

    But I am very impressed by his directing here. He makes a new movie that is suffused with antiquity but not suffocated by it. It is a celebration of older films but not a slavish reproduction.

    I think Once Upon a Time in Shanghai/惡戰 really is what Quentin Tarantino thinks Kill Bill is.

    The story of a country boy who comes to the big city, it’s an updated version of… well, a lot of movies.

    The film is profoundly evocative of several eras and genres of film, and you can see the spirits of the Shaw Brothers, Bruce Lee, and old Hollywood.

    I remember wishing my grandmother could see this film, because it seemed like something she would have enjoyed.

    My grandmother wasn’t Chinese (not even by marriage), and wasn’t a martial arts fan, but I know she loved old movies, and Once Upon a Time in Shanghai/惡戰 feels like one in all the best ways.

    If I say it is soundly generic, I mean it in the most flattering way. There are no surprises in this story, and it is in its own way completely predictable.

    But hey, so is sex, and that seems pretty popular.

    I found myself smiling at the way the film unfolded, because the story went exactly where I knew it had to go.

    Early in the film, Andy On’s character violently consolidates his ownership of a nightclub. Having seemingly been snubbed when he flippantly instructs the singer to sing him a song, he turns to leave.

    On generic cue, she begins singing… and the world stops.

    I’ve seen that done before an awful lot of times, but when I watch this movie again it will still be one of my favorite moments.

    What is new about Once Upon a Time in Shanghai/惡戰 is the look and feel. The cinematography is sleek and rich, as is the knowing, self-conscious air the film projects.

    I really liked the way the film winked at itself (and at us) so often. It presented characters so classically stereotypical that it felt more like an homage.

    But I think that was the intention.

    By the time the film reverts to the seemingly obligatory anti-Japanese plot line, it has developed such a nostalgic air that it seems much more organic to the plot than most other recent films.

    It also helps that the scrīpt manages to demonize Japan politically without falling into racism or essentialism.

    Certainly, the depictions of the Japanese as villains are overstated and simplistic, but that can be said for all of the characters; it’s an intrinsic part of the production.

    Philip Ng is not an actor from the 50s, 60s, or 70s.

    But he managed to convincingly capture the classic depiction of the smiling, naive rural bumpkin of the films of yesteryear. His character is so earnest it’s unbelievable. Except that we’ve seen it so many times before.

    Philip plays Ma Yongzhen, the archetypal country boy who comes to the big city to find his fortune.

    His transformation is as predictable as it is entertaining. Ng takes his cues from classic cinema depictions, showing us a character whose naÔvetť is written all over his face.

    Possessed of superhuman strength, an unshakeable sense of morality, and not much else, Ma comes to Shanghai looking for work.

    Sammo Hung, Yuen Wo Ping, Fung Hak On and Chen Kuan Tai play the existing power structure of Shanghai’s underworld.

    They are being displaced by Lung Chat, played by Andy On.

    A young rising star of Shanghai’s underworld, he is brash, violent, and bordering on psychopathic, the devil who leads the innocent astray with entree into a dazzling world of money, power, and women.

    Andy On plays the role with a remarkable dexterity, one minute dazzlingly charming and the next coldly ruthless.

    Having once been just like Philip’s character, Lung Chat is now the crass, pragmatic realist who knows that you only get what you take.

    But that doesn’t mean you can’t smile and look good while you’re doing it.

    Andy was dubbed into Cantonese in the version I saw. He was still very impressive, and one reason I want to see the Mandarin version is so I can see his role in its original language.

    These two real-life friends share more than a few Moments of Bromance as their friendship, literally forged in a fire, grows.

    As Lung Chat re-discovers his humanity, Ma Yongzhen becomes more worldly.

    Michelle Hu is adorable as the petulant, aggressive young woman who scolds Philip’s character for everything he does and never seems to have a nice thing to say to him.

    Because she likes him and that’s what girls do.

    It’s enough to make you think she’s Irish Catholic.

    Jiang Luxia plays her sister, in a role too small to allow her to display her considerable martial arts skill.

    But at least she’s there.

    And she’s hitting someone other than me.

    Let’s face it; Once Upon a Time in Shanghai/惡戰 is about martial arts. And it certainly delivers.

    The majority of the cast are obviously trained martial artists, and it makes a very big difference in the fight scenes.

    There is some digital undercranking employed, as well as CG, but it is obvious that these people know what they’re doing.

    The crispness of their actions and the physicality they display can’t be faked; you can either do it or you can’t.

    It certainly helps to have Yuen Wo Ping do your action choreography, but what helps more is having people like Philip Ng and Andy On who can execute those scenes so impressively.

    What’s nice is that the slightly obscured look used in some of the fight scenes is, in this instance, a stylistic choice rather than a means of camouflaging shortcomings.

    The best thing I can say about Once Upon a Time in Shanghai/惡戰 is that I was very, very grateful to see a movie that obviously took a lot of effort in front of and behind the camera.

    It exceeded my expectations, and they were already pretty high. This isn’t just a great martial arts movie, it’s a great movie.

    I smiled the whole way through it, and after the movie I thought to myself, “This is why I moved to the other side of the world.”

    Once Upon a Time in Shanghai/惡戰 kicks more ass than an epileptic in a Weight Watchers meeting.

    https://www.alivenotdead.com/seantie...e-3465639.html

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    Official U.S. BRD & DVD release 1/13/15

    Gene Ching
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    U.S. DVD/BRD release imminent

    Once Upon a Time with Philip Ng
    December 29, 2014


    (Photo Courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment)

    ďThe camaraderie built around doing something difficult is something you canít have with doing something easy. Ē

    ó Philip Ng

    Tell us a bit about yourself and your story.

    I was born in Hong Kong (HK), I grew up in the United States in the suburbs outside of Chicago in the United States. My parents worked really hard when we moved over. I didn't have a lot when I was a kid but we didn't need a lot to be happy so it was cool.

    At an early age, I did martial arts with my father and uncle and later moving on to learning from other people as well. I was just like any other normal kid, except I guess I trained kung fu a little more than what a regular kid might've.

    I always had a dream to come here. After I got my master's degree in education, I worked a bit and told my parents that I really wanted to go back to HK and give it a try. It was a crazy dream that I thought about. My parents were cool about it so I packed my bags and came to HK. When I first came to HK, I didn't know anything about the industry.


    (Photo Courtesy of Well Go USA Entertainment)

    How did you enter the entertainment industry once you moved to HK?

    In college, I took my dad's old recorder and filmed myself doing a bunch of martial arts, used my limited knowledge of editing and made a 7-minute tape (yes, VHS!). I had this box of tapes in my suitcase and then I went to HK.

    I joined the artists Christian fellowship in Hong Kong where my uncle did some Christian singing on the side. There, I met an actor / singer, Joe Tay, who ultimately changed the course of my career. He actively helped me out and gave my tape to one of his best friends, Chin Ka-Lok, HK actor and action director.

    At the time, Ka-Lok was working on a movie called Star Runner which starred Vanness Wu and Andy On. He needed someone who can help out on the traditional kung fu - Wing Chun and Hung Kar kung fu. Ka-Lok hired me as an assistant choreographer which was my first big gig.

    We all became best friends because of this movie. It was Vanness' first time as a lead role in an action movie and Andy won the best newcomer award for this movie - it was a first for all of us.

    After your first big break, what happened next?

    After that, I continued to learn the ropes of being an action director, action / martial arts choreographer, and also a stuntman. My goal was to become an actor as well so I was talking to Ka-Lok and he told me to learn the behind-the-scenes work first and when there's a chance for on-screen you'll be more in tuned to what you are doing. So every time they worked on editing, I would go in as well and learn how to edit.

    Like learning anything, there's a systematic way of doing things. As long as you understand the goals of what you are trying to do and the basic steps to achieve those goals, then you can take this basic alphabet and make it a language. I later signed on to a management company and they taught me the ropes of the industry.

    What challenges have you faced since going to HK?

    The big challenges would be the same for anyone coming into this industry. You really need to have perseverance - it's not like other jobs.

    Especially in the beginning, you need to have very thick skin and work your way up. For the longest time, the majority of the HK press was not very kind because of my position in the industry. Before I signed to my current company and boss, Wong Jing, who's a very well-established veteran in this industry - it was a little bit more difficult. After signing, with him I had a lot more opportunities and I see the change in perception about me. Being in the position I am in now, I feel like I have paid my dues. I did it through hard work. I'm proud to be where I am.

    What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?

    My most memorable would probably be the whole process of filming and releasing my first leading role in a big movie, Once Upon a Time in Shanghai. This is a big deal for me as I was carrying the movie, and it had my best friend in it, Andy On, playing a supporting role. The action director, Yuen Woo-Ping (The Matrix, Kill Bill, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon) is someone I look up to and admire immensely. My boss and producer of this movie, Wong Jing, went above and beyond to get this project off the ground and we made a movie that I'm very proud of.

    All movies are group projects, it's not a one-person thing. Just like a high school group project, not everyone will agree or be happy with the end result but with this movie, from top to down, we're all very proud of it. Every member of the crew put in 110%. So far this has been the biggest highlight of my career.

    Tell us about the story of Once Upon a Time in Shanghai and the role / character you play in the movie.

    I'm playing a Chinese folk hero named Ma Wing Jing, which has been played in the old Shaw brothers days by Chen Kuan Tai, Takeshi Kaneshiro and the most recent reincarnation was played by me. The original actor who played Ma Wing Jing, Chen Kuan Tai, is also in the movie. Sammo Hung's in the movie, one of my all time favourite martial arts idols.

    Ma Wing Jing, despite being a legendary and historical character that existed, nobody really knew how he looked like or how he really was like. So at the same time, I was able to be more free in interpreting his character.

    Several actors were in talks to play the supporting role; a character where at first we don't like eachother and then we become friends. They selected my best friend, Andy On to play this role which was awesome because we've been talking for years about things we would do together. Up to that point, I have worked a lot with Andy, choreographed movements for him to fight other people, but haven't fought with him on screen.

    The director Wong Ching-Po is superb. I haven't worked with anyone who had his handle on capturing movement.

    What did it feel like to play Ma Wing Jing?

    This is a big deal for me. There have been so many promises made to me on different projects. There were a couple of big projects that I was almost involved in but ended up getting cut short. You build this mentality, and you curve your own enthusiasm until the last possible minute, so that you don't get disappointed. I remember the night before the first day of shooting, I said to myself tonight I go to sleep and I'm Philip Ng, tomorrow when I wake up I'm Ma Wing Jing. It was a movie moment in real life for me.
    continued next post
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
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  14. #14
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    Continued from previous

    You mentioned you learned to hold your enthusiasm, take me back to when you realized that this was actually happening.

    It's like watching something shocking, you're numb and you don't process anything. When you're inside the process you have to focus on getting the job done.

    Time was limited but the crew was amazing so we were able to turn around the scenes a lot quicker than we thought. It was beyond my physical and mental capabilities but I did it.

    There's a scene at the end where there's a 1-minute long-take (where the camera doesn't cut) where I had to fight a hundred swordsmen. We had 1-day to choreograph, learn the sequence and film it - and I had to do two different sequences. I asked Yuen Woo-Ping "In America, how long do they get to prepare for this type of scene? He said, "Well you get a month to prepare and a week to shoot" (laughs).

    You were only given 1-day to film such a complex fight scene, how did you do it?

    I was a little surprised I was able to do it. It took about 30 takes. Imagine running a marathon 30 times, that's what it felt like. I remember during the middle of filming the first sequence, I was on the ground exhausted, and I looked up and asked Yuen Woo-Ping, Hey sir, can we cut this shot out? and he said "No way, you can't cut this shot out. This is the award-winning shot." So I said okay! and got up.

    I realized I wasn't the only one putting in the effort. All the stuntmen had to get back up and fight me again. The camaraderie built around doing something difficult is something you canít have with doing something easy. Everytime I messed up, they got up and said "Okay, no problem! Let's do this again!." When we would go through the takes on the monitor, they were all clapping when we finally had a good take (two good takes), it was like cheering on a person going through an obstacle course. It was cool but it wasn't easy.

    There's a scene where Andy and I were jumping around like kids from one staircase to the other. During one of the takes, I slipped and almost tore my LCL on my knee. At that point, I still had one more fight scene to do with Andy, but we shot all the acting scenes first, which didn't require me to jump around. Then I just strapped up my leg really tight, and shot the final fight sequence.

    It must take a lot of training in order to keep filming under injuries. What kind of training did you go through in order to prepare for this movie?

    Martial arts-wise, I'm pretty confident as I'm always training but because we're making a movie, you're making a visual presentation of a martial artist. When you're making a kung fu movie, we do need to maintain a very fit physique. You have to prepare to be like a professional athlete. I did 99% of all the action that you see in the movie. So after a day of fighting, Andy and I would hit the gym. There was no time to sit around.

    How would you describe Once Upon a Time in Shanghai in 3 words?

    Brotherhood. High-impact. Classy.

    With 2015 coming up, what are your New Year's Resolutions?

    I guess my resolutions are the same every year. I went to Korea for vacation recently and haven't been back to the gym so one of my immediate resolutions would be to get back in shape and train martial arts. Also, to continue what I'm doing. Right now, I'm getting together some projects of my own, and there are always issues but I pray that God will make it as smooth as possible while I learn what I have to learn.

    Other than filming Once Upon a Time in Shanghai, what have been some other highlights of the year?

    I was the choreographer and one of the leading roles in Sifu vs. Vampire. I was also the head action director in Zombie Fight Club where I had a cameo and fought my good friend Andy again.

    I just have to say one or two words, and he knows what he's doing - we have that kind of unspoken communication. A lot of us have family overseas, so we're all like orphans here. Guys like Andy are like my family here.

    Andy and Vanness are one of your closest friends, how do you think they would describe you in 1 word?

    Loyal.

    I go out of my way to do things even when it seems impossible. But also when we see eachother do things that we don't think is the right thing to do, we'll say something, even if it's against the other person's opinion. That's what real families do. I think being honest to your friends for their own good is a type of love.

    When your friends are down, you push them up. We do that for eachother and it's unspoken. It's always been like that and it's always going to be like that. We all have this loyalty towards eachother, we understand that there's no army of one - you're always stronger when you're in a group of like-minded individuals. Especially when those individuals really care about each other. We have a group of brothers and sisters that have that relationship here and we tend to work together, because you always work with people that you trust whenever you can.
    Here's a pic I took of Philip's dad, Sam Ng, with the OUATIS poster at Legends of Kung Fu last year.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  15. #15
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    U.S. DVD release = our latest sweepstakes

    Enter to win KungFuMagazine.com's contest for Once Upon A Time in Shanghai! Contest ends 6:00 p.m. PST on 1/22/15.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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