"Bulletproof Monk" is due in theaters in just a few weeks. Themovie, based on the Flypaper Press graphic novel of the same name stars Chow Yun-Fat,a martial arts master who must team up with a street-wise punk (Seann WilliamScott) to protect an ancient scroll.
MGM Studios has provided CBR readers with this Q & A session with Yun-Fatabout the movie.
Q: Do you enjoy the physical part of this role?
Chow Yun-Fat: Not really, but when you have the wire on and they flyyou in the air, it can be a lot of fun. It depends on the difficulty of the wirework. For me, I'm not fascinated about all the wire works or martial art things,I'm more dedicated to the drama and the romance. I'd rather have a girl than awire or two guns, but I'm glad that we have a lot of young actors in this movie.They give the movie a lot of energy and also a lot of inspiration for the newgeneration. I am already a veteran in this industry, more than 30 years, so moreor less we need some new faces. They taught me a lot about how to be a youngactor. I'm still young in Hollywood, you know.
Q: What kind of things are you talking about?
CHOW: Seann and Jaime [King] have different ideas how to create arole, which is very interesting. They make the character look good in theircertain way, in ways I never thought about it. Plus this movie is West and East,two cultures planted together. I'm still learning a lot of new things and Ireally want to explore the culture. They taught me a lot about the Americanlanguage, about the people living in the Midwest or on the East Coast and WestCoast.
Q: So even with all your experience you can come to a project andlearn something.
CHOW: Every movie is give and take. I think I took a lot from everysingle movie.
Q: What is going on with the Monk? He has a mission.
CHOW: That's maybe going too far. It's only a comic book, okay? Thischaracter is a lot of fun. You have acting, a little bit of comedy and a goodrelationship with Seann's character, the monk and Seann. It's very unusual tohave drama, friendship, a mission, more or less, in a movie with a veryimportant message about Buddhism. In the very beginning scene, my master teachesme how to understand the universe and philosophy. My character wasundisciplined, so later on in modern day I meet Seann and he gets the samelessons that I got when I was young. I have the responsibility to put him on thegood track. So more or less, Seann and the master monk are teacher and studentand buddy and friend. It's very complex.
Q: The relationship is important but not natural.
CHOW: Right, it's not like most Kung Fu movies, with a master who isstiff and serious. This one is more like friend, like buddy, interesting.
Q: You don't understand what you have.
CHOW: Even the monk, he doesn't know. He doesn't understand the scrollthat much [laughs] because I don't know how to read the Tibetan. Only joking.
Q: Talk about Jade's character. It's an unlikely combination.
CHOW: When I saw the dailies of a bunch of young people together, Ithink I'm out of the movie - this Asian guy full of Asian culture. How can itblend into the Western culture, blend in with the young people together. Butthey actually have a lot of interesting chemistry with the Monk. Veryinteresting.
Q: Is it easy to say it's good vs. evil?
CHOW: Depends on your wisdom to understand the movie, or your wisdomto understand the philosophy of Buddhism. Actually the script has a lot of verydeep philosophy about Buddhism. It's interesting, once you go to see it.
Q: When you first read the script, what was it that made you say Iwant to be the Bulletproof Monk?
CHOW: I was 100% for this movie because my wife, Jasmine, controlsevery single character I play. She's in charge of planning my projects. I justwait for the order. She says, "Now the movie called Bulletproof Monk. Youhave to do it." I wasn't concerned about the character; I was concernedwith my wife. It's an order.
Q: You're following instructions.
CHOW: Yeah, right, instructions - "You have to do this," andI say, "Yes, ma'am."
Q: Talk about Seann. This is a very serious role for him.
CHOW: That's why he has a lot of concern about his character, aboutthe treatment of the lines. He always had a lot of discussions with me about howto treat the scene. And Paul [Hunter] is a very good director. He gave us a lotof room to create our character. I think Seann is very talented and I think he'sone of the up and coming stars in America. He has a lot of potential and can bea good actor and also a very popular star.
Q: Beyond his success in comedies…
CHOW: Oh yeah, absolutely. I admire him as a friend and as a buddy inthis movie. I appreciate that he is performing. I am glad I have thisopportunity to work with him.
Q: What has your experience with Jade been?
CHOW: She is not that much related to the Monk, but personally Ireally, really like her. And the canvas loved her because she's really, reallybeautiful. She does a lot of martial art with Seann, like they're dancingtogether. I think it's beautiful. Seann and Jamie have a very strong chemistryin the movie.
QUESTION: You've had experience with wirework before, is this anydifferent or special?
CHOW: Depends on how the director treats the fighting sequence.Actually, we can do it in the computer, but if he uses the real actor, put onthe wire, it looks more real than when you use the CGI. So, if we have a lot oftime to practice the scene, get it very organized and make it look good, we havea strong impact on the audience. They see the real actor doing all the martialart things in front of the camera. Plus, Stephen and Paul have a lot of newideas. Paul is from commercials and knows how to make the images very rich infront of the camera, and I hope he can treat the martial art movie in a certaindifferent level, rather than what you saw before, like in "Crouching Tiger,Hidden Dragon." I really want to put my character, Seann's character, Jamieand the whole movie on a new level.
Q: Something different.
Q: What is it that Paul is bringing to the film?
CHOW: I haven't seen all the dailies he cut together, but I haveconfidence he can put everything together in very good shape.
Q: Has he talked to you specifically about your character and thejourney the monk is on?
CHOW: Yeah, he always taught me how the Monk looks, his color for theMonk, you know, the hair. He had a lot of angles, plus the set up with thelighting and everything and choosing different colors -- the texture is matchedto my color tone. The combination of the color is putting in a very rich andbeautiful harmony. I told him I've never worked with a director like him. He hada lot of ideas on the set, so after one take he'd request, "Yun-fat can youdo that in a different way?" He liked to ask me to do things in differentways, which is very special in my mind. I think it is very good for an actor tohave a lot of inspiration from the director. He gave me a lot of room to createthe Monk in certain way, which I haven't had before.
Q: Do you like that kind of thing where you can come to the set andhave ideas come out?
CHOW: Yes, every minute, every second.
Q: You have to be on your toes then. Sounds very collaborative.
CHOW: Right, right, exactly. It depends on coincidence andinspiration, depends on the click, you know. Once we click to the same idea, orsome idea we're happy about, which is related to our movie and related to thecharacter, we just do it.
Q: You talk about texture… everyone spoke about an important look.
CHOW: Yeah, you can see it in the monitor every day.
Q: Is there something unique about a project that's produced byTerence Chang and John Woo?
CHOW: Yes, exactly.
Q: What's that relationship like for you? Terence said he created thisfor you.
CHOW: He had this idea for four or five years already. He waited forso long to create this project because he needed to look for a studio that couldsupport his group of people and make our dreams come true. I've worked with Johnand Terence for many, many years, through many, many movies. I appreciate thathe gave me a lot of opportunity with his company and his colleagues. This is along relationship with them, you know, melodrama, comedy, action. When he toldme he had created some new project for me, I was so glad to do it because we'veknown each other for so long.
Q: Must be nice in this business to have such a strong relationship.
CHOW: Oh yeah, absolutely, absolutely.
Q: Can you summarize what audiences can expect?
CHOW: I think it's more than I can summarize, you know.
Q: It's got a little bit off everything, but it's not a martial artsmovie.
CHOW: It's a lot of different combinations together. I can say thatthis is very interesting movie. Everything you can name or think about, you cansee in this movie.