Regular readers of this blog (all five of you) will remember that I shot a film called 'The Blood Bond' last year. It was directed by and starred the great Michael Biehn, who did a fantastic job on both counts, and the film was well-received at the various film markets. It soon became apparent that the film's break out character was the kung fu fighting, holy roller protecting butt-kicking Asian babe named Deva played by the inimitable Phoenix Valen.
So, by popular (or, at least, buyer demand), Deva returns in a new adventure, 'Red Dawn Rising', and Phoenix and I find ourselves back at our home soundstages, the Ace Studios in Nanhai, to shoot the opening action sequence.
As they say in 'Enter The Dragon', we're putting quite a collection together. In the director's chair is Antony Szeto, who helmed the acclaimed 'Wu Shu', produced by Jackie Chan. (Talk about going downhill in terms of your producers...) I've known Antony a long time, but this is the first time we've worked together, and its been absolute hell...
Just kidding, its been an absolute pleasure. Antony has a terrific gift for balancing the demands of story and spectacle, of making a lot out of a few resources, has a genuine martial arts background that gives him a unique appreciation of the genre... He's equally good with actors and action, which is rare.
The man literally behind the camera is Morgan Peline, a cunning linguist who speaks English, French, Cantonese and Mandarin, and the language of the lens. Its his first time on a shoot with this much action, but he's fast on his feet and always ready with a solution, rather than just another problem!
Of course, the action king remains my main man Ken Ip, who did such sterling work for us on 'Blood Bond'. He and his team are rehearsing for a slambang opening sequence, and we'll be looking to him to help us stage Parkour, gunfights and a lot more kung fu fighting as the story progresses. The focus on 'Red Dawn Rising' is definitely on the action, which is what international audiences want to see.
Finally, we return to the wondrous Ace Studios, domain of the great Henry Luk, without whom Antony and I would both be without a film-making 'home'. Thank you, Luk-san!
So what's it all about? Well, not to give too much away, but our story begins 4 years after the events depicted in 'The Blood Bond'.
Deva has experienced several further adventures, and, when we first see her in the film, is making her way into a remote temple.
For the opening scene, Phoe had to throw her Indiana Jones torch to one side for each take, and make sure it landed where it was meant to (without burning the studio down...)
She's then forced to fight a temple-ful of kung fu fighting monks, who are all under the command of the surprisingly benevolent Abbot. (All will be explained when you see the movie... I hope!)
The Abbot is played by Andrew Ng, a mainstay of Hong Kong's marketing and media world. Coincidentally, he had just started training at Yeung Pang-pang's Hit Hut facility, where Phoenix was training for the film, when we approached him to play the role.
The day ends with a dialogue scene in our temple set, which soons become smoking hot (just like Phoenix herself...) with the lights and fires going on around the scene.
By the way, and lest I forget, how many good things can I say about the femme fatale herself? Without Phoenix, there would be no Deva, at least not as we know her, and definitely no 'Red Dawn Rising'. Thanks, Phoe!
Next we go into our action scenes, with too much to do in too little time, as ever. But that's for Antony to worry about....