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Bey Logan
Producer , Screenwriter , Sports
795,628 views| 274  Posts

18-6-09: CHOW ON FIRE (almost...)

 

In the studio, and on the road, with prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /China’s greatest actor.

 

 The thing about working with Chow Yun-fat or Gong Li or Jackie Chan is that they spoil you for other actors. Besides their luminous talents, they’re industry veterans, true professionals who provide the maximum performance with the minimum maintenance.

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I remember noting this fact when I was a producer on the film Dragon Squad (AKA Dragon Heat). The cast’s older players, Sammo Hung, Simon Yam, Michael Biehn, all came in to get the job done. Our posse of younger performers was surrounded by a bevy of managers, minders and assorted hangers on, and had to be mollycoddled at every turn. I wouldn’t have minded, but you could have rolled all of them into one and not had a movie star who could open the film (as we discovered to our cost!). Where was Chow Yun-fat when we needed him?

 

On ‘ Shanghai’, Chow gave everyone a lesson in preparation and professionalism. We all wanted to call him ‘Mr. Chow’; he likes everyone to call him ‘Fat Gor’ (‘brother Fat’). Some months after principal photography, I met him and his lovely wife Jasmine in Beijing to record some ADR for the film. (This was the day after the session with Gong Li.)

 

 

Chow arrived at the appointed hour, wearing a baseball cap and still sporting a silver goatee cultivated for his role in the just completed period epic ‘Confucius’. (He looks disconcertingly like Fish Fong, a guy who works with Yuen Woo-ping…) As with Gong Li, we had a connection to a studio in New York and went to work. Further complicating this session was the fact that we also had to have Fat Gor re voice some lines in Mandarin. Let’s hear it for the redoubtable Doris Wang, who was on hand to help and had worked with Chow in Hong Kong, years earlier. I was also grateful for Chow Yun-fat’s usual unfailing patience and good cheer as he was drafted in to not only re-record his dialogue but to help rewrite it as well! He always calls me ‘beylogan’, like its one word, and I felt very honoured every time he said “Beylogan, would it be okay if we said this?” I kept thinking, “You were The Killer, sir. You just say whatever you like…”

 

The session wrapped, I hitched a ride in the Chow’s limo and we headed back to the city. As we hit the expressway, we passed a jeep that was in the middle of the road, on fire. I mean, this thing was burning like Ghost Rider’s head, and fragments were flying off it in all directions. Our driver just stepped on the gas and we raced past. About three miles further on, our rear back tyre starts going chunk-chunk-a-chunk, and we realize that it caught some shrapnel. The driver pulls over to the side of the road.

 

By this time, the police have arrived to check our the automobile equivalent of the Wicker Man and stopped the traffic behind us, meaning that we’re parked on the side of the road in the middle of exactly nowhere. Mr. Chow keeps his usual calm head, and starts to change the tyre, which is fine, except for the fact that the wrench in the trunk of the limo doesn’t seem to match the nuts on the tyre. Initially, it seems there’s nothing to do but wait for rescue, so we sit at the side of the road and chat. I have to tell you that, for a Hong Kong film fan, there are worse places to be than talking movies under the stars with Chow Yun-fat…

 

 

He really has had the most amazing career, a simple fellow from Lamma Island who got picked to join the Shaw Bros acting programme, and became a huge star on Hong Kong’s TVB. He had an initially challenging time making the transition to film, until John Woo cast him in the seminal gangster epic A Better Tomorrow. From there, he established himself as a superstar in films of every genre. Though his high octane actioners (The Killer, Hard Boiled) play better in the west, Asian audiences loved him comic turns (Eighth Happiness) and romantic roles (An Autumn’s Tale). He became such a phenomenon that, in Taiwan, per director King Hu, producers seeking financing were asked the same question, insistently, by the distributors: “Is there a role for Chow Yun-fat in your film and, if not, can you possibly write one for him?”

 

We first met on the set of Hard-Boiled, and a few years later I interviewed him on the roof of London’s now sadly defunct Scala Cinema. (It was such a hot day, the sound girl fainted and almost clocked him with the boom mike as she fell.) And here we are, all these years on, sat at the side of the road to Beijing…

 

Finally, the driver uses his cell phone to get hold of the right guy at his Mission Control and, Apollo 13 style; they talk him through the tire changing programme. With the spare in place, we’re on our way. Chow has maintained his calm throughout: younger stars take note…

 

  

almost 10 years ago 0 likes  14 comments  0 shares
Photo 23318
beylogan! haha.. that was hilarious, and this coming from a person who is rather fluent in english already!
almost 10 years ago
Mariejost 26 dsc00460
Loved the blog. Fat Gor is my hero!
almost 10 years ago
Img 4957
beylogan!! hahaa okay so i told myself to read through your blog but when I scrolled down I saw the pic and realized that I've heard this story live!! :D
almost 10 years ago
Raul
You were The Killer, sir. You just say whatever you like…” ,--- haha love it!! Man, I agree, there's defo much worse places to be =P
almost 10 years ago
Photo 23337
That's great! CYF will always be a favorite. I really admire his work ethics and the way he treats people...He's cool...with a capital K!!! :)
almost 10 years ago
Photo 54026
Can't wait to see the film -- Chow Yun Fat rocks. The Killer is a classic!
almost 10 years ago
Rottendoubt a4 patrick
that is too crazy!! glad you all were safe and sound!
almost 10 years ago
Photo 51673
he's the greatest gentleman. insists on shaking everybody's hand before starting work, from greensman to producer. now THAT i love!
almost 10 years ago
Photo 481335
Thanks for sharing this wonderful experience! Can't imagine anything better than being stranded with Chow Yun-Fat and passing time by chatting! BTW, I am a big fan of your audio-commentaries. Thanks for all those hours of chatter. Adds so much value to every film.
almost 10 years ago
Wudi
he is cool !!!
almost 10 years ago
Default avatar
Yes, I remember clearly his first TVB series with Carol (or Dodo) Cheng. Was it not The Chameleon?? We knew he was destined for bigger things to come. There are still some old -school superstar actors who have the same humility & humbleness . As you said, rare these days .
almost 10 years ago
Default avatar
Would be every fan's dream, stranded on the road under a starry sky with Fatt Gor, haha!
almost 10 years ago
Default avatar
Love his mo, but not the goatie.
almost 10 years ago
Photo 442564
I feel that I have encountered more than my fair share of divas (from all walks of life). It is so nice to hear about someone who is not only fabulously talented but extremely unassuming and nice. Wannabes take note!
almost 10 years ago

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Languages Spoken
english, cantonese, french
Location (City, Country)
Hong Kong
Gender
male
Member Since
April 8, 2008