Author of the indispensable Hong Kong Action Cinema (Overlook Press, can we have an updated version now please?), a man whose commentaries on Hong Kong Legends’ DVDs are accessible, fascinating master-classes in Chinese history, culture and movie production, a raconteur not afraid to name names in his juicy anecdotes, a one-time film critic who, after years writing about HK movies, put his money where his mouth was, went out there and started producing movies of his own and has not been shy in discussing their shortcomings, and a bloke who can take as good as he gives, Bey Logan is an Asian cinema institution. And he shares his initials with Bruce Lee and Brigitte Lin.
The good news is he’s also Mr Nice Guy, as approachable and open as he seems on his commentaries, and a natural born talker who was kind enough to give Far East Films a substantial chunk of his time to discuss everything from ‘The Medallion‘ to the original version of ‘New Police Story‘, to his future projects and beyond.
Rob Daniel: Please describe yourself in 5 words.
BL: Only five? Okay. Gregarious, kind, impatient, creative and unusually worried!
RD: Why worried?
BL: Filmmaking, producing and scriptwriting to a lesser degree, is a constant series of problem solving and you’re always worried that the problem you just had is solved sufficiently and about the problem yet to come. And about the problems that seemed to be insolvable.
I’m lucky because the biggest problem most filmmakers have is they can’t get money for their films; the films that I’ve done, we had money for them at least. But, producing is always a worry, and I’m not talking about a rich guy who slapped his name on the film or some guy who came in and attached his name to a project to impress the ladies, I’m talking about someone who physically comes in and produces a movie from the ground up, the way I do. So if you’re not worried you’re not doing your job.
RD: So now you’re the moneyman?
BL: I’m the guy looking for the moneyman, would that I were the moneyman!
RD: Why did you get into producing and not just stick with writing or even establish yourself as a director?
BL: Every time I wrote a brilliant script, and of course all my scripts are brilliant, I would go through the rounds of showing them to producers and getting nice comments, or not nice comments, and basically getting nowhere because every producer, including me now, has a big pile of scripts in the corner most of which will never get made. But I had my naiveté and I think it’s good for people to have that because if they knew the odds the industry would grind to a halt; nobody would want to be an actor, director, nothing. The odds are so against you, you have to have this blind faith in yourself and believe the industry is kinder that it really is. Finally though, I thought I’d become the guy on the other side of the desk as well.
The way it happened was not really with any planned trajectory, but I started off when I was at Media Asia, coming into write and write, and right up until the end of ‘The Medallion’ I produced the Jackie Chan documentaries and I realized that if I wanted to get anything made I should produce as well. So I really took on full producer responsibilities on ‘The Twins Effect‘, although I’m not sure the position of my credit on the film reflects that.
The short answer is that as a producer I can produce my own scripts! I also think you can stay employed more often the more things you can do in the business and obviously I’ve done everything except direct. Actually I have directed but didn’t get credited for it.
RD: Researching you on the Internet, you seem to be working on three projects: ‘Kung Fu Master’, ‘Dragon Squad‘ and ‘Sword Searchers’. What can you tell us about these, and what else are you doing?
BL: Of these three, ‘Kung Fu Master’ has fallen by the wayside, which is a shame. I very much believe that film projects, like people, have their time, and there comes a moment when their time passes. I hope I know when it’s my time to move! There was a moment, after we finished ‘The Twins Effect’, when we could have moved forward with ‘Kung Fu Master’, and made an exceptional martial arts film. As it is, the film was about Fok Yun-kap, the master of Bruce Lee‘s character in ‘Fist Of Fury‘, and Jet Li is now doing his own Fok Yun-kap film, so I think perhaps the moment has passed. As with all my unmade projects, I might turn the script into a brilliant novel in due course.
‘Dragon Squad’ starts shooting March 15th, and we have a great cast, with Sammo Hung, Michael Biehn and Maggie Q. It’s a real return to the glory years of Hong Kong action filmmaking. ‘Sword Searchers’ is still in development at Mandarin, and latest word is that it should go into production later this year. I’m also working on ‘Three Kingdoms: Resurrection Of The Dragon‘, which is a period epic that director Daniel Lee will make after ‘Dragon Squad’, and on a German film called ‘Finale’, which Maggie Q and I are co-producing.
RD: The not always reliable IMdb still has ‘Kung Fu Master’ as being in production with Gordon Chan directing.
BL: Initially, Donnie Yen and I had dinner with Gordon at the Cannes Film Festival, and he agreed to direct. I then wrote the script, and everyone liked it, except Gordon! Although he was leaving Emperor Group, where we were working at the time, I wanted to continue to develop the script, and keep Gordon on-board as a producer. Unfortunately, things got more complicated as things progressed, and the film finally lost its momentum.
RD: You’ve collaborated with Gordon Chan on movie projects and three successful audio commentaries. Could you tell us about your relationship with him?
BL: Gordon is just the nicest man in the world, and I owe him a lot. I first met him at Media Asia, and he was so kind and generous with his time. I learned a lot from him, and that was why, when he left to join EMG, I asked him if I could join him there. I think the process of making ‘The Medallion’ put a great strain on the relationships of everyone involved, and that was why Gordon didn’t do a commentary for ‘Final Option’, which was a shame. I think we’re friends again now, and I look forward to working with him, both as a filmmaker and a commentarian.
RD: With ‘Sword Searchers’, you are writing the English script. How are you finding adapting the source comic book, ‘Weapons of God’ by Tony Wong Yuk-long?
BL: Another writer did the actual adaptation. I then worked with producer Raymond Wong on the English version, to try and make the complexity of the characters and the setting understandable to a non-Asian viewer. The film’s a period piece, so I devised a framing device, whereby the modern day counterpart of the film’s central character meets an expert in Chinese studies, and he explains the story to the boy, and, through him, the international audience. The expert is to be played by David Carradine, who’s an old friend of mine, and a wonderful actor.
RD: Now the dust has settled, what are your thoughts on ‘The Medallion’?
BL: The best train set a boy could have! Just one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and evidence that the journey really can be more important than the destination. My son Ryan loves it and I made a dear friend in Julian Sands, and, if that isn’t worth US$40m, I don’t know what is…
RD: I thought it was a hugely entertaining film, but do you think that with Jackie Chan starring, Sammo Hung on action duties and Gordon (‘Fist of Legend‘) Chan directing and you co-writing, expectations were too high?
BL: You’re too kind! I don’t think we can blame audience expectations on that particular film’s shortcomings. Would that you could have seen the film as it was originally conceived? I think, in retrospect, we should have had either Gordon or Sammo direct, and avoided having ‘two tigers on the same mountain’.
RD: What were the main creative differences?
BL: I don’t even think it could come down to creative differences, and there were definitely no bad guys involved. To have a creative difference you have to have two people with separate visions that are in conflict. But I think if ‘The Medallion’ had been shot entirely in Ireland it would have at least been a very interesting film, it would have been a noble failure, rather than an attempt to Hollywoodize an English film and bring in American producers. What I think it suffers from now is a lack of identity. I almost wish it was a truly godawful bad movie like ‘Highlander: Endgame’! Better to be truly great or truly terrible, the worst thing in life is to be average.
But to answer your question, Gordon had a vision that was very much in line with the script that I had written, and if you look at the scenes shot in Ireland or the deleted scenes you get a sense of a different kind of Jackie film; Sammo didn’t have a separate vision for the film but had a feeling he should be directing it. So there was some tension on set, but I actually agree with him and think it was a mistake for him at that position in his career to be the action director. And of course he should be making movies in America by now, and maybe shouldn’t have worked with Gordon because they didn’t have a particularly good relationship on ‘Thunderbolt‘, so we should have seen it coming. But, you know what, if someone told me tomorrow “You’re going to work with Sammo, Jackie and Gordon again” I’d give it serious thought. These are three brilliant men.
And I have to tell you the three years of making it were just the most transforming of my life. It was an incredible journey for someone who used to sit in Birmingham, England watching Jackie Chan, Sammo Hung and Gordon Chan movies, to be three years on the road making a movie with these guys. Show me anyone who wouldn’t wanna do that.
But, you can also never gauge what is going to be liked. Look at ‘Around the World in 80 Days’, which tanked but was a great movie. It had a lot of that anarchic British humour that I wanted to bring into ‘The Medallion’, so maybe if we had done it my way it still wouldn’t have been successful. But, I think it would have been a noble failure, and I think ‘Around the World…’ will be looked at in ten years time as a great movie, the way people today look at movies like ‘The Blues Brothers’ that didn’t work at the time.
But it’s also a rule of fate that if I make the film, I’m never able to do the commentary for it! I believe I have become a quite respected commentarian so I couldn’t believe Columbia didn’t contact me for ‘The Medallion’. The guy they brought in is one of the producers, Bill Borden, who is a lovely man, he recently did ‘Kung Fu Hustle‘, and Bill taught me a great lesson: I’m quite low-key in some ways (despite what people who know me say), but not Bill, his credit is there centre frame, he’s at every photo op (look at the photo section of ‘Kung Fu Hustle’ on IMdb.com), he says “I’m the American producer, and I’m going to show you how it’s done!” I should be more that way!
But, you meet the odd person out there who liked it, then you meet ten other people who rant and rave and say you should be burnt and the stake and you can just say, “Sorry…”
You’re polite and nice, but I’ve had some people who are quite confrontational. But, you go into stuff thinking it’s an interesting project, you’ll learn something and have an amazing experience, and it’s almost like a by-product that the film gets put out there and everybody’s bitching about it on the Internet. I find that people who also lead interesting lives are far more accepting of the limitations of me or the project. It matters if the film sucked of course, but if you couldn’t do anything about it enjoy what you got from it.
I try to say to people who just sit in the basement watching movies, living life on the freeze-frame, press Play and get out there! Words from The Beast!
RD: They say hindsight is 20/20; looking back what could have been done differently?
BL: In the first week of shooting, I would have taken Jackie’s dialogue coach and Fed Exed her to Guatemala…
RD: Jackie Chan made a return to Hong Kong filmmaking with ‘New Police Story’. You translated the script for prospective Western buyers, what did you think of the finished film?
BL: I think its hugely entertaining film and a remarkably brave stretch for Jackie as an actor. I have a unique perspective on the film, having read the original script and seen the original cut. I think the theatrical version is a very good film, but Benny Chan‘s original director’s cut is potentially a great film. I hope the latter version gets a DVD release.
RD: What’s different in the director’s cut?
BL: There were longer dramatic scenes. Nick (co-star Nicholas Tse) got a bit of a rough ride, because he had a lot of funny and sweet scenes that were cut out. At the beginning we saw him busting someone for illegal parking and pretending to be a cop, and there was a longer scene in Jackie’s apartment when he’s taking stuff out the fridge and there’s a pillow in the fridge for Jackie because it’s nice for his head when he’s drunk. The emphasis became more the love story, but when I read the script it was about these two people, Jackie and Nick, who were both lost and by the end were found by knowing each other. I thought it was a touching story and a good transition film for Jackie, but my feeling is Jackie looked at the film and thought “I’m not old enough to be Nick’s father yet!” so it became more of a love story. The ending in the police station with all the flowers was a reshoot because that’s what Jackie thinks is romantic.
But I thought Nick was fantastic, everything he does is great and I’d love to work with him again. Actually we’re talking about doing ‘Gen-X 3’, ‘Gen-Z Cops’ I guess we’d call it, which I’d love to.
RD: Could you tell us about your friendship with Maggie Q? How did it begin and why did you decide to form Shankara Productions together?
BL: We knew each other in passing, because she was dating Daniel Wu and we would be at the same events. I was horrified when she was cast in ‘Gen-Y Cops‘, because she was known only as a model at the time, and the track record of models trying to act in films is pretty pitiful. On the first day of shooting, she so impressed me with her dedication, talent and energy, I knew immediately that she could be a huge star. Over the course of the shoot, we became very close, and, when I left Emperor, I couldn’t think of any one better to go into partnership with!
RD: What’s Shankara’s ethos, and what’s the story behind the name?
BL: ‘Shankara’ is a Sanskrit word, an invocation of peace, which I felt I needed in my life and the world beyond needed even more. Our aim is to generate and contribute to projects that combine the best elements of Asian and international filmmaking. It’s a loose partnership, in that we both undertake separate ventures. For example, I wasn’t involved in Maggie’s German film, ‘House Of Harmony’, and she isn’t involved with ‘Sword Searchers’. However, we always look out for chances to work together. On ‘Dragon Squad’, I’m producing and she’s acting. On ‘Finale’, we’re both producing and she’s acting. As long as I stay away from acting, we’ll be fine…
RD: But, recently you’ve been very visible in front of the camera, in pretty straight roles (if you can call anything in ‘Naked Ambition’ straight!). How do you find acting, and will you be appearing in front of the camera again soon?
BL: I actually have no desire to be on film! Maggie teases me unmercifully about my acting skills (or the utter absence of them!). I’m okay at a live event, I can talk and tell jokes and I sing pretty well, but I never feel I look comfortable playing someone else on screen. I’d like to have a shot at a real comedy role, but I never get offered them!
RD: Did you make the final cut of ‘2046’?
BL: No I didn’t, I’m on the cutting room floor where I belong. But, if you ever get a chance in your life to act opposite Zhang Ziyi for Wong Kar-Wai and Chris Doyle, don’t pass it by even if you know you’ll be on the cutting room floor. It was an amazing experience.
RD: Your documentary features on the Hong Kong Legends discs are consistently rewarding. Are you working on anything at the moment?
BL: If I were a musician, I’d define the HKL commentaries as my ‘side project’. I’m first and foremost a filmmaker, but I’m proud and happy to be part of this ongoing project to celebrate the best in classic and modern Asian cinema. I’m constantly shooting interviews and other bonus materials, and doing commentaries. I just did ‘Ju-on 2‘ and some interviews for ‘New Police Story’. Next up are commentaries for ‘The Master‘ and ‘Duel To The Death‘.
RD: You have described Hong Kong movies as “kids in the playground having fun”. Do you think this still applies to current Hong Kong films?
BL: I can’t remember saying that! (Bey says it in his interview on Celestial’s ‘The Magic Blade’ DVD) I remember feeling that way when I walked off ‘Tiger Storm’/ ‘White Tiger’, thinking all those ‘kids’ were having more fun than me! I guess I made up for it since? I think that making movies requires such stamina, such total commitment in terms of time and effort, that it better be a fun experience, in terms of the actual process and going to premieres and dating actresses and whatever. Otherwise it’d be a lot of sour without the sweet!
RD: In a previous interview you said Hong Kong movies have to compete with Hollywood and change their production methods. ‘Hero‘, co-financed by Miramax, had a Hollywood sheen, yet was in Mandarin with a structure more complex than ‘Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon‘ and still went to No.1 in the States. Do you think if the look and feel is professional, whatever the language, Hollywood will invest?
BL: Absolutely. It’s already happening. We have financing for ‘Dragon Squad’ coming from the US. If there’s one thing that’s changed over the past few years, it’s the belief that subtitled Chinese language films won’t ‘play’ internationally. However, I think local filmmakers do have to be more disciplined, in every aspect of production, from script development to shooting to distribution, to meet the demands of the international market.
RD: What do you think are the chances of current Asian smash ‘Kung Fu Hustle’ crossing over to the West?
BL: For that particular film pretty slim in my opinion. I thought the style of the humour was very ‘local’. It’s long been the case that the better a comic film plays in Asia the weaker it is in the west, and vice versa. It’ll be interesting to see what Columbia does with ‘Kung Fu Hustle’.
RD: Is Korean cinema the new Hong Kong?
BL: No, because they don’t seem to have stars that transcend their films. Korean movies are great, but do they have a Chow Yun-Fat or Jackie Chan or Jet Li or Tony Leung Chiu-Wai? The films have a cult following, but to really break in the west you need your stars to develop an individual fan following. There isn’t a single Korean actor who means anything outside of Korea, except maybe in Japan. Right now, they have critical respect, but nothing close to the Hong Kong cinema fan base.
RD: Could you tell us about your involvement in the Wong Fei Hung museum?
BL: Can I tell you a secret? I’ve never even been there! A couple of guys from the museum came to see me when I was at Media Asia, and I donated a bunch of materials. That was it! I’m writing a book on Lam Sai-wing and Hung Kuen at the moment, so I’ll go to Fatshan as part of my research. No-one should ever go to China unless they have absolutely unavoidable business there.
RD: Can you tell us about your martial arts history and what the study of martial arts has given you?
BL: I’ve been training in martial arts most of my adult life. I explored different systems, including Taekwondo, Kali and Muay Thai, but I’ve always gravitated back to the Southern Chinese martial arts, and specifically Hung Kuen. I’ve been lucky in that, in my early training, I had one instructor who was a fighter, Mark Houghton, and one who was a teacher, Jim Uglow. Now I train under Jesse Gooding, who is better as a fighter and a teacher than anyone I’ve ever met. I’ve also trained in Chen Tai Chi, and, in time, would like to learn more about this art.
RD: On the ‘Once Upon A Time In China‘ audio commentary, you mention it would be good for Hong Kong movie fans to actually study martial arts rather than watch sixteen movies a day. Which style would you recommend for a thirty-year-old male whose only form of exercise is bike-riding?!
BL: I’d say get a map, stick in a pin where you live and draw a circle, then expand the circle until you find a reputable martial arts school near your home. Then start taking lessons. Just a couple of times a week is okay.
RD: But, don’t you think that Hong Kong movies act as the ultimate example of wish-fulfilment? Most of us will never be able to move like these people, even with wires, so we watch Jet Li, Donnie Yen and Bruce Lee and project ourselves on the screen.
BL: You’re right. Kung fu movies take martial arts to the next level. I don’t think I can ever be Bruce Lee or even Donnie Yen, but I can and will be a better Bey Logan. From martial arts, you develop grace, strength, flexibility, self-defence, confidence? I think its great that enhanced though they are, martial arts films serve to evangelise for the martial arts. I think fans of these films should want to be in something like the kind of shape their heroes are in.
RD: Wong Fei-hung has been the subject of hundreds of movies. If you were to direct a Wong Fei-hung film, how would you approach it? Who would be your Wong Fei- hung?
BL: To answer your last question first, definitely Liu Chia-Liang, who, believe it or not, has never played Wong Fei-hung. I’d construct it like most of the old Wong Fei-hung films. We’d see the great master in action at the beginning, and then he’d disappear while his students got into trouble, and then he’d come back to save the day in the final reel. I’d get these bright young guys like Andy On and Vanness Wu to play the students, and have someone like Mark Dacascos as the villain. Hey, now you’ve got me thinking?
RD: Speaking of directing, are you any closer to the director’s chair? I read you are planning to direct a romcom with Maggie Q called ‘What You Wish For’. What is the progress of this and your Hong Kong ‘Cyrano de Bergerac’ adaptation?
BL: I’ve done every job, so I really should direct something before I retire. Actually, I pretty much directed scenes in ‘Gen-Y Cops’ and ‘The Medallion’. ‘What You Wish For’ was conceived as an extra short film for the Emperor anthology movie ‘Heroes In Love’, which was under running at the time. Then they decided to use a narrator to fill the extra time, and we thought about turning it from a short film to a feature. I have to admit that I never quite got a handle on the script, but this is actually one project I’d like come back to and take another shot at. The Chinese ‘Cyrano’ is called ‘Canton Moon’. My manager in the US, Paul Canterna, took it to every studio, but no luck yet.
RD: You must be sick of talking about your audio commentaries by now, but my knowledge of Chinese culture and history has increased dramatically through listening to you on the HKL discs. What has been the most challenging aspect of Chinese culture you’ve discussed?
BL: You’re very kind, and I don’t at all mind talking about the commentaries! I think the hardest commentary for me was for ‘Hong Kong 1941‘, for which I really had to study a lot about wartime Hong Kong. It was like prepping for an exam! Otherwise, it’s the linguistic stuff, for example, the joke about losing a chicken or losing a pig in ‘The Prodigal Son‘. You’re very generous in your praise, but I’m always amused when I read people nit-picking about a specific mistake I made on a commentary. I do my research and present literally hundreds of facts at rapid pace, but, if sometimes I misspeak due to a pilot error, I’m sorry! Contrary to published reports, I am only human.
RD: How do you decide what is important to include on your talk-tracks?
I go through the films a few times and make notes, and try to fill out the dead spots with stories, facts and figures. It’s a question of over-researching, going in there and trying to cram it all in, while trying to match the flow of the movie. Sometimes something occurs to you that is interesting, sometimes you look back and think “I should’ve mentioned that” but on the day it does become kind of like a live performance. So, I don’t make a decision of what is or isn’t important, it’s what fits the flow of the movie.
Like on ‘The Young Master‘ at the end I started talking about Hapkido, because he’s doing Hapkido and there’re no other actors, there’s no other locations, and to say, “He kicks, he flips” would become like a horse race. I’m amazed at the number of commentarians who crash and burn repeatedly. I had the same experience on ‘Fist of Fury‘, my first commentary, when I dried up halfway through. So I went home, busted my balls for a day getting info together, went back and finished it up and thought it was terrible. But, people came to me and said they liked it and that was the beginning of my career as a commentary guy. But, what astounds me are these people who repeat that mistake again and again and don’t learn from it, doing these ‘I’ve never seen the movie before’ commentaries.
BL: Very much so, because I really have to do my research from the ground up. I have a head start when I do the Hong Kong titles because I have a lot of the material committed to memory. I was actually quite nervous about doing solo commentaries on Japanese or Korean titles, so always had Mike Leeder co-commentate. He was unavailable for ‘Ju-on’, so I had to leap that hurdle alone. I just did ‘Ju-on 2‘ and, in researching that, I watched the film itself, watched the American remake of the first ‘Grudge’, bought the Japanese double disc, which has no subtitles, and then got a Japanese air stewardess friend to come in and help me translate the deleted scenes and other bonus materials. Actually, now I think about it, the stewardess thing wasn’t all that bad…
RD: Are there any early HKL releases you wish you had done a commentary on?
BL: There’re a couple of them, yeah. I don’t believe I did ‘Magnificent Warriors‘ or ‘Eastern Condors‘. Originally, I thought, and so did the company, that people would be sick of hearing me on every commentary. Secondly, we originally planned to have a team of commentarians and we would divide up the movies. And bear in mind I was paid per commentary at that stage, so if I were a money-grabbing kinda guy I’d have gone for every commentary in town and bugger the rest of them. But, what happened was that most of the others sucked pretty badly and those people didn’t continue or weren’t invited back. And mine were well received and if I didn’t do a commentary perhaps the sales didn’t do as well, so I had to do a commentary.
I believe some of these movies are nearing the end of their Hong Kong Legends life, so if we bring them out again I hope as a selling point we can say? Now with a Bey Logan commentary – as you’ve never heard them before!? on titles such as ‘Snake in the Eagle’s Shadow‘ and ‘Drunken Master‘.
RD: I’d love to hear a commentary for ‘New Dragon Gate Inn‘.
BL: I didn’t do that? Well, I’d love to do one, get Donnie back into the commentary room because we had a good time on ‘Iron Monkey‘, although he’s such a flake, always wanting to get paid!
RD: Speaking of commentaries, am I the only person in the world who likes your ‘Once Upon A Time In China’ track with Mark King?
BL: No, you’re not. You know, that was supposed to be the idea; it was going to be like ‘My Dinner with Andre’, presenting conflicting views. My disappointment with Mark was he didn’t rise to the occasion with an informed counter argument, and he hadn’t done any homework. If he had recalled his experiences on the film and had a cohesive argument as to why these films sucked, that to me would have achieved its goal. But he tried to be Mr Cool and Mr Sarcastic and it slightly rebounded on him, and I thought it was unforgivable of him to come in not having watched the film. Over time he’s got increasingly pissed off about it and our friendship kind of ended because of it because he said I didn’t look out for him. But I told him to watch the film, bring a sweater and have his arguments worked out. He didn’t watch the film, he didn’t bring a sweater so he was wimping out for the last half hour and he didn’t have an argument. All he had was a mantra: I DON’T REMEMBER AND THESE FILMS SUCK, and there’s me jollying him along.
But, I agree, I think it does make for entertaining listening. And the interesting thing about it is, contrary to what he thought, that he’s the cool guy and I’m the geek, unanimously people thought “Oh poor Bey, he’s so patient and so nice” but that’s me in real life and on the commentary.
RD: What also comes through in your commentaries is that you have a scholar’s knowledge of all film history, not just Hong Kong movies. What Western films and filmmakers have influenced you and your career?
BL: So many! Maggie gave me a special DVD cupboard for my office, which holds about 500 DVDs, and it was full in about a week. Pathetic, isn’t it? By the way, most of the films weren’t Asian films. In terms of favourites (with my track record, I daren’t call them influences!), I have to cite several of the usual suspects, Martin Scorsese, Oliver Stone, John Ford, Akira Kurosawa. My favourite films of all time include ‘Raging Bull’, ‘Ed Wood’, ‘Fargo’, ‘Seven Samurai’, ‘In The Heat Of The Night’, ‘Tombstone’, ‘Star Wars’, ‘High Fidelity’… The list goes on!
BL: I’m so glad you mentioned ‘Just One Look’, because I absolutely adore that film. I think it was far and away the best film we made during my time at Emperor. It’s kind of the second film in a Riley Yip ‘Remembrance of Youth’ trilogy, after ‘Metade Fumaca’, and I can’t wait to see what the third one will be. The problem is that each HKL title receives so much care and attention, from remastering to packaging to marketing, that we can only release a certain number a year and we have such a backlog of more ‘commercial’ titles to put out. I have to admit I’ve never seen ‘Anna Magdalena’, so I’ll have to get back to you on that!
RD: Like most HK film fans I’m a huge fan of Brigitte Lin. Can you give us an update on the proposed HKL release of ‘Peking Opera Blues‘, my personal favourite?
BL: To the best of my knowledge, it’s still pending, and I’m looking forward to working on it. I doubt we’ll get Brigitte Lin, but I look forward to talking with Tsui Hark about the film.
RD: It’s a shame you’re not contributing to Celestial’s Shaw Brothers releases anymore. What happened?
BL: Well, it was kind of a debacle. Ten days before their first release they decided they needed commentaries and bonus material and they should’ve planned it a long time before. And they were pitching them for the wrong market; logistically doing English materials for Hong Kong is a waste of time, so there should have been a project in conjunction. I mean when you have a brand as strong as HKL, with the recognition and material they have, to consider bringing out a barebones DVD of an old Kung Fu movie? Good luck!
RD: And technically, some of the commentary recordings on the Celestial DVDs aren’t really up to scratch.
BL: The weird thing about Celestial is that we used the same technical facilities as I use for HKL, but with wildly different results! It was cursed from the start.
RD: You’re a man who makes films with Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung, are best friends with Donnie Yen, regarded with genuine affection by fans and operate out of your own production company in Hong Kong. Do you feel you have truly “made it”?
BL: Career-wise, absolutely not. I’m bitterly disappointed with every film I’ve ever made, and I feel I have so many great stories to tell, and movies to create, so I hope I get to make at least some of them before I’m too old! In terms of lifestyle, absolutely. I have a wonderful life. Sadly, my marriage didn’t work out, but my wife and I are still friendly, and we have three absolutely gorgeous kids. I have my health, some of the best friends a man could ask for, I live in the most exciting city in the world and I work in the industry I always dreamed of, and with the heroes of my youth. I date some gorgeous women, and I have, in Maggie, the best partner and pal a man could ask for.
RD: Finally, thanks very much for sharing your time with us and I look forward to seeing “A Bey Logan Film” very soon!
BL: Bless you! Thanks for your support, kind words and interesting questions.