February 26, 2008

AUDIBLE ‘INVISIBLE TARGET’: In the studio for a manic audio commentary session.

After all these years of doing audio commentaries for Asian DVDs, fans still ask me ‘Hey, motor mouth, why don’t you do them with the actual directors and stars?’ The main reason for this is that, for most of the films concerned, the participants don’t speak English or are dead (or both). In those cases where directors (Tsui Hark on Seven Swords) and actors (Cheng Pei Pei on Come Drink With Me, Donnie Yen on the forthcoming Flashpoint) are available, I’m more than happy to get them into the studio with me. For the cop actioner Invisible Target, we were spoilt for choice, as most of the young leads speak English, giving us the chance to record a rare round robin group commentary.

I had originally hoped to have the film’s top-billed star, Nicholas Tse, participate, but this proved impossible. As some of you may know, Nic saw his name dragged into the Hong Kong starlet photo scandal that has, unfortunately, become international news. I felt particularly bad for Nic, who I’ve known since we worked together on Gen-X Cops, as he was a particularly innocent and unwilling participant in the scandal. I did call and discuss the commentary and interview with him, and he seemed keen to participate. However, his management was evidently very concerned about his appearing in any public forum. They never said ‘no’, but declined to confirm a time that Nic would be available. And so it goes. Sorry to all you Nic fans out there, but now you know the reason for his absence.

(Ironically, the guy at the centre of Snappergate, Edison Chen, was originally cast in the role now played by Jaycee Chan. Chen left the project after he couldn’t come to terms with the producers over his credit position on the film.)

At the appointed hour, our band of mischievous miscreants descended on the unsuspecting studio: Jaycee Chan, Shawn Yue and (filling in for Nic) Andy On. We shot individual interviews with the stars, before gathering in the sound booth to watch the film. I screwed my courage to the sticking place and asked Jaycee ‘okay, you’re the son of Jackie Chan and your shooting your first ‘Police Story’-style cop action movie. Any pressure?’ Jaycee was at Sundance, with his last film, The Drummer, which was shot, in part, in the same Taiwanese national park where his father once shot all those Lo Wei flicks. We also discussed the logistics of his shooting a fight scene (with Andy On) in a burning car park. The scene actually replaced a more conventional duel between the two, set in a different location. This was half shot and then abandoned, but, if you watch the Making Of, you can catch a great clip of Andy connecting with a spinning kick to Jaycee’s jaw (and they’re still great friends!).

Why Andy On isn’t already a major star is a mystery to me. He’s had the bad luck of being in the misfired films of great directors (Tsui Hark’s Black Mask 2, Ringo Lam’s Looking For Mister Perfect), with only supporting roles in better films (New Police Story, Election 2). The first director to really tap in to Andy’s rare mix of strength and vulnerability was Daniel Lee, who cast him in Star Runner, which won him a Best Newcomer prize at the Hong Kong Film Awards. We were supposed to work together on Dragon Heat, but On’s management company couldn’t guarantee us enough days with him for Andy to play the lead, and so he could only play a cameo role. 2008 has been a better year for On Chi-kit. Johnny To finally made good on his promise to give Andy a decent acting role with Mad Detective, and the actor was also given one of the most memorable parts in Daniel Lee’s Three Kingdoms: Resurrection of the Dragon. In his interview, Andy talked about balancing acting and action, and about the dangerous addictions of the Warcraft videogame!

I first met Shawn Yue when I was working at Emperor, and he was cast in his first major movie role, in a sweet little coming of age drama called Just One Look (check it out if you can find it!). Since then, he’s become a rising local star. He and Louis Koo seem to be in every other Chinese film language film released this year. When I first met Shawn, he spoke very little English, but has since made his international debut, opposite Josh Hartnett, in the yet-to-be-released I Come With The Rain. He challenged me to interview him in Cantonese and I challenged him to do the commentary in English, and I think we both came out ahead.

Invisible Target is a great Hong Kong-style actioner, very much in the tradition that director Benny Chan began with Gen-X and Gen-Y Cops. It was a blast to get three of the lead on camera and in the commentary booth, and I hope its as much fun to listen to as it was to record.


that's awesome that you got all these guys for the commentary! i'm so stoked about this and flashpoint's commentary. i only wish flashpoint was playing in more theaters so i could watch that film in all its glory
- Challeng, Escondido | 2008-03-10 21:13:55
I'll buy the DVD just for this commentary. And I've got the HK Limited Edition DVD AND Bluray releases!
- Chris, Chicago | 2008-03-14 11:20:34
That's terrific, should be an entertaining commentary. And too true about Andy On. He was great in Mad Detective and I'm hoping he gets his own good action movie soon.
- Daniel, Colorado | 2008-04-05 19:01:24
Looking forward to the DVD! This movie was a nice surprise with some great action and choreography. I enjoyed it more than Flashpoint.
- Marc, Netherlands | 2008-04-10 11:16:20
I'm sorry Nic couldn't make it, but it's awesome that Jaycee, Shawn, and Andy were able to make it. Andy deserves to get a top role and I heard good stuff about his role in Mad Detective. Can't wait to get this title :)
- Albert, Florida | 2008-04-12 18:57:21


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